How To Overcome Sin – Part 1 (Knowing)

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Before I even begin this next series from the Book of Romans, let me just say that, as I look at the title I have chosen for this study (“How To Overcome Sin”), I truly feel like a hypocrite. I will be the first to openly admit that I have not “overcome sin” in my own life and there are definitely some areas that I continue to struggle with. But putting aside my own personal success or failure in this area, Romans Chapters 6-8 deal with this very topic. Please understand that, while there might be many areas of the Word of God where I feel comfortable speaking authoritatively, walking in complete victory over the sinful nature is not one that I wish to even suggest that I have mastered. Perhaps there are some reading this who are enjoying a sinless walk with the Lord and, if so, I do hope that they fill me in on the secret! Nevertheless, let’s take a look at what the Bible says are the steps that lead to deliverance from the power of sin.

Our Responsibility

No sharper distinction exists in the division of Romans than the transition from Chapter 5 to Chapter 6. Before Chapter 6, Justification has been the topic and the teaching has been exclusively related to Salvation itself. Chapter 6 moves into the area of Sanctification and the focus throughout the rest of Romans is on living the Christian life after we have become saved. Justification is the foundation upon which Sanctification rests, it is the gateway that must be crossed in order to enter into the life God wants us to lead. Justification makes Sanctification possible, but Justification is never to be seen as an end unto itself. We are declared holy (Justification) so that we might actually become holy (Sanctification); God never intended for us to stop at Justification, only to go on living as we please.

It is worth noting that, up until Romans 6:1, the Apostle Paul has made no effort to convince or persuade; no argument has been made in order to call us to action. Faith has been the only asset we are urged to possess and to believe is the sole response we are told to make. But Romans 6 takes on a different tone as the incontrovertible facts surrounding Salvation are replaced by the persuasive arguments surrounding Sanctification. In other words, while Justification is entirely an act of God accomplished exclusively by a transaction between God the Father and God the Son, Sanctification is accomplished with the believer’s co-operation — there are certain actions that we are compelled to take so that our Sanctification can be realized. To be declared holy and free from the guilt of sin is accomplished in a single instant, contingent only on whether or not our trust is in Christ, while a holy and pure walk with the Lord is something that is ongoing throughout our life on Earth, its success greatly determined by our own actions and responses. While Salvation requires no work on our part, Sanctification does.


Lest the idea that there is something that we must do in order to live a holy life discourages us, we should understand that God has done all that is necessary to make it possible to live a devout and holy life. Sanctification, just like Justification, is really a work of God in our lives, but unlike Justification, we must do some things in order to be sanctified. For the unsaved person, it is absolutely impossible to live a holy life because they simply cannot overcome the sin that enslaves them. Only through Jesus Christ can any of us be saved, not only from the guilt of sin, but from the power of sin.

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17)

The word “know” and all of its forms are hardly seen at all in the first five chapters of Romans. It occurs four times in Chapter 6 alone. The first step to overcoming sin is knowing what God wants us to know. If we do not understand what God has done, if we do not know who we are in Christ, then we will never be able to overcome the sin in our lives. Where do we learn these things? In the Word of God. This is why spending time in the Bible is so crucial for the Christian. If we are ignorant of what the Scripture says, our walk with the Lord will never be what it should be. There are as lot of things that are important for us to know about our walk with the Lord Jesus, but let’s take a look at the four things Paul mentions in this chapter:

We Are Baptized Into The Death Of Christ

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3)

When we are baptized into Christ, we are identified with Him. Water Baptism is a picture of death and resurrection, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that He secured on our behalf. It isn’t just the Sacrament of Water Baptism that is in view here, but “baptism into Christ” or identification with Him in general. When Jesus went to the Cross at Calvary and when He was risen again from the tomb, He did so for each of us. He paid the penalty for our sin and was raised again for our Justification. This is what Verse 2 of Romans 6 is referring to when it says we are dead to sin. We didn’t die to it, but Christ did. So, the first thing we must know is that, since Jesus died to sin on the Cross on our behalf, then, effectively, we died to sin. How is it possible for one to live unto sin who has already died to it?

We were crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) and were “buried” with Him. Verse 4 of Romans 6 goes on to say that, just as He was raised from the dead, so are we raised into newness of life. We need to know that we are new creatures in Christ and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Since we are raised in Him, we are no longer to live in sin.

We Are No Longer Servants Of Sin

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Romans 6:6)

Sin has its hold on a person until that person dies and, as Verse 23 tells us, the wages of sin is death. But sin loses its hold on us once we are dead. Since we have died in Christ, sin no longer has its hold and power over us (V. 7). As we considered, the unsaved man is powerless to resist and overcome the sin in his life, he is a slave and servant to it. But once we are in Christ, we are servants of God, not sin. We have a choice, we can now walk with the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord Jesus rather than sin.

Death Has No Dominion Over Us

“Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” (Romans 6:9)

Since death has no power over our Lord, it has no power over us because we are identified with His death. Sin and death go hand-in-hand and we have no business messing around with either of them. Death where is thy sting?, Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:55). The sting of death is sin and Christ has overcome them both (1 Corinthians 15:56). Yes, the day will come for all of us (unless the Lord should  return before then) that our physical bodies will die. But we have already died a spiritual death and have received a new spirit that will live forevermore!

We Have A Choice

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

Lord willing, in the third part of this series I would like to look at this verse a little more closely. For now, considering what we should know, let us understand that none of these things we have been looking at are automatically conferred upon us. Yes, they are true whether we know about them or not, but unless we are aware of them and choose to walk in them, they won’t do us much good. The unsaved person has no choice but to walk in sin, that is his nature, yet the Christian can either walk in sin or walk after the Holy Spirit; he has a choice. If we continue to walk in sin, then we remain the servants of sin even though we have come to faith in Christ. This definitely should not be so, but it is certainly possible for the child of God to continue to serve sin and death! We must know who we are in Christ, what He has secured for us, and then choose to walk in that.

Our Justification, our Salvation in Jesus Christ, is secure and unmovable because it is entirely upheld by the power of God. Our Sanctification, however, is something that we ourselves have the ability of impeding. If we do not know these things, or if we live like we don’t know them, then we can continue to live a life that is marred by sin’s ugliness and we will bear the temporal consequences of doing so. May we know who we are in Christ and know that we no longer have to let sin rule over us; we have the Power living inside us to say “no” to all of sin’s temptations. Let us walk in newness of life, having died to the power of sin through our identification with His death and Resurrection.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,





5 thoughts on “How To Overcome Sin – Part 1 (Knowing)”

  1. Loren, this is so excellent. Every time you share with us from His word and teach us, I see so clearly how this is what you should be doing. He has given you a gift, and I praise Him for giving you a way to use it!
    If a person continues on, stopping at justification, but not choosing to walk by the Spirit or know His Word . . .do you know what happens to this person? Will they be one of those who are saved as though pulled from the fire? Just curious!
    God bless you as you talk to us about the important things and put it in ways that we can understand! Thank you for your faithfulness to His call and Word.


    1. Thanks, Deb, God bless you for your words of encouragement! It’s portions of Scripture such as this where I really see how feeble and lacking I am at handling the Word of God as it really deserves to be handled; I wish that I were better at communicating the wondrous truths contained in His Word. Praise God that He can make up the difference; where I am weak, He is strong 🙂

      I do think that believers who continue walk after the flesh are those to whom Jude is referring (Jude 1:23), those “pulled from the fire”, their pure white garment provided by the Lord Jesus being spotted by the works of the flesh. These are “carnal Christians” who never enjoy the walk with God that He intended for them.

      Your question is an excellent one that reminds me of just how precarious it can be to attempt to teach on this portion of Scripture. To be honest with you, I always feel very uncomfortable commenting on passages of the Bible like Romans 6 because I know the implications that can arise from them. If Sanctification is not a requirement for Salvation, is it therefore “optional”? Since living a holy life is not a prerequisite for going to Heaven, why is it necessary to even bother? As Romans 6:15 asks, Since the Christian is under grace and not under Law, why can’t they just keep living the way they are living (that is, in sin)?

      You and I, Deb, have a firm handle on this and would answer just like the Apostle Paul does: with a resounding “God forbid!” But I know that there are others for whom these issues might be a little more unclear. For those who are walking after the flesh yet professing a faith in Christ, they might wonder just how “carnal” a Christian can be and still be a Christian. Where in fact do we draw the line between “carnal Christian” and “carnal sinner?” Oftentimes, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between their lifestlyes at all! I must confess that it can be absolutely impossible for us to know the difference, and that’s all right. God never intended any of us to be the judge of anyone else. We know that there are Christians who live and look like the unsaved, that there are sinners who act and look like believers, it can be very hard to know who is who. I would like to share an illustration that talks about this very thing:

      Dr. J. Vernon McGee used to preach a message that he called “The Prodigal Pig.” We have heard about the “Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32) a young man who left his father’s house and spent all that he had on sinful living. The boy finally hit rock bottom and came to his senses after sinking so low that he was living in a pigpen, feeding swine for such paltry wages that even the slop he was feeding the pigs started to look good. He returned to his father’s house, repented of his sinfulness, and was received back into the household. When asked what would have become of the boy had he died while living in the pigpen and whether or not he would have stil been “a son of the father” even if he had never made it back home, a prominent theologian once observed, “Well, he wouldn’t have been a pig.”

      A child of the “Father” might end up for a time in the pigpen, but he never ceases to be a son of the “Father.” Though covered with mud, though stinking of filth, though living just like the hogs he’s wallowing with, the son might look like a pig, but he never becomes one. On the other hand, let’s suppose that the prodigal son had decided to bring one of those little piglets along with him when he returned to his father’s house. Consider if he had washed the pig up, sprayed some perfume on him, and dressed him up in some of his clothes. Though the pig might have looked like a son and smelled like a son, he would have still been a pig. What would have eventually become of the pig? Well, as Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:22, this “prodigal pig” would have ultimately returned to the pigpen.

      In this world, there is a road between the Father’s House and the pigpen. Every day there are sons going to the pigpen and sons returning to the Father’s House. Likewise, there are pigs going to the Father’s House and pigs returning to the pigpen. For us, it becomes impossible to tell who is going to a place where they don’t belong and who is returning to a place where they do. Yet, eventually, all the true “sons” will end up returning to the Father’s House and all of the pigs will end up back in the pigpen. Only God really knows who the “sons” are and who the “pigs” are, but we do know that neither can live very long like the other. A true “child of the Father” can only wallow for so long in the pigpen before his misery in doing so will bring him back home. If not, well, then maybe he wasn’t really a son after all…


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