We are all born with sin in our human nature - some Bible translations call this “sin in the flesh”. The sin in our nature makes us want to do our own will instead of Gods will. We see this every time we are tempted by the lusts and desires that live in our human nature, like pride, jealousy, suspicion, anger, etc. (James 1:14.)
But when I don’t give in to the temptation, then I don’t sin. And this is exactly where the fight against sin lies! When I have seen that something in me wants to sin, but I have not yet agreed with the temptation and given in to it, I have not done the sin yet, and this is my chance to win against sin! We can be tempted to sin, but we have to fight so that we don’t give in to this temptation.
Read more - What you need to know about temptation
Our goal is to become like Christ (Romans 8:29) and be with Him for eternity. But to do this, we must fight this inner battle against sin. We have to give up everything that God shows us, everything that would block our path to this goal: our pride, our self-will, selfishness, our sinful thoughts. All of it has to be given up so that we can live as God wants us to live.
A desperate longing to be saved from sin
Because the sinful lusts and desires in our nature want something different than God’s will, saying “no” to them will be painful. In 1 Peter 4:1 this is described as a “suffering in the flesh”, which is something you will feel in a very real way, because you have to say “no” to something that feels part of who you are and what you want.
To be faithful, we have to make a firm decision to not give in to sin. We have to admit that nothing good comes from our human nature. (Romans 7:18.) We have to see how weak we are as a natural person, how powerless we are against sin, and we need to come to the point where we humbly admit that without God we can do nothing. When you are at that point, you will understand why it is written about Jesus that He prayed until His sweat came like great drops of blood. (Luke 22:41-44.)
“God had the power to save Jesus from death. And while Jesus was on earth, he begged God with loud crying and tears to save him. He truly worshiped God, and God listened to his prayers. Jesus is God's own Son, but still he had to suffer before he could learn what it really means to obey God.” Hebrews 5:7-8 (CEV).
Jesus was the Son of God, but as a man He still had to pray with loud crying and tears to God to receive the power He needed in the battle against His own will, that wanted something else than God’s will. That’s how serious it should also be for us. We need to have a desperate longing to be saved from the sin that so easily traps us. (Hebrews 12:1.) We will also need to cry out to God to be saved from sin. Just like Jesus, we also need to pray that we will be willing to suffer rather than give in to sin. (James 1:12; 1 Peter 4:1-2.)
The power of the Holy Spirit to fight sin
“Sin lies at the door, and its desire is for you, but you should rule over it!” Genesis 4:7. If you don’t say “no” in the first moment when you are tempted in your thoughts, sin gets a hold on you, and then it grows and becomes another thought, and another thought. In the end, it becomes a way of thinking. If this happens, then sin has overcome you, instead of you ruling over it. Don’t give in to any sin! Resist it until the desire to sin is gone, no matter how long that takes. And then you will be free!
Also read: Are you catching the "little foxes?"
Before Jesus left the earth, He promised His disciples that He would send them a Helper, the Holy Spirit. As disciples, we can pray every day to filled with the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit gives us the power to stand firm in the fight against sin and to never give up, no matter how long the temptation continues (Acts 1:8) - to patiently say “no” to the temptations that rise up inside you without ever giving in.
This is a power that only the Holy Spirit can give us. It’s not something we have in ourselves. We as people are weak, we easily give up. That’s why we need to be humble, admit how weak we are, and go to God to get help. (Hebrews 4:16.)
The more we overcome in temptation, the more hope we get for the future. Even though we are born with a natural tendency to all kinds of sin, we do not have to die with them! God can change us, make us new. (2 Corinthians 5:17.) The future becomes exciting and filled with amazing possibilities when you know that you don’t need to react according to the sin in your nature, but that you can react in a new, godly way! (Romans 6:4.) Sin has lost its power! God be praised!