Victory over the flesh should be an expectation of every maturing Christian. Christ has already done His part; what part do we play?
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. (Galatians 5:24-25)
When we come to know Christ, believers begin a process of sanctification; that is, the maturity a believer grows in as they endure in Christ. This is a lifetime process.
One result of this maturity is that at some point in their walk with Christ, a Christian should see evidence of victory over sin. And as maturity grows, more victory follows.
Continuing to struggle with and give in to sin, especially habitual sin, should cause us to carefully examine our hearts and lives. It means there is something amiss with our faith in Christ.
Even so, if this describes you, do not give up hope. If you truly desire to follow Christ, He has shown you the way to attain victory over the flesh. Read on, friend.
Battling a Defeated Enemy
When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for our sins, He settled the issue of payment for our sins once and for all.
When we say there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, we are saying 2 things: first, we are saying we have no ability in ourselves to pay it. And second, that Christ paid the full penalty of sin through His death.
In response, we follow Christ in faith, believing that He is who He said He was, and did what He said He was going to do. And following Christ in faith requires obedience, surrender, and faithfulness, because that’s what He tells us is expected.
Since we follow Christ in faith, we trust in His full payment of sin. He pardons us of our sinful state and our sinful acts, and then tells us to abide with Him.
Then, the Bible tells us a wonderful thing. To live as if sin is a defeated enemy – because it is! As today’s passage shows us, Christ was crucified so that we might crucify our sin.
When we follow Christ in faith, He empowers us to holy living. When we abide with Christ and walk with Him in obedience, we are matured and strengthened to walk beyond our past sinfulness and into holiness. This is God’s will for us once we have decided to follow Christ.
The more we submit to Christ, the more we will attain victory over the flesh. Sin will become less desirable to us. We will grow in our desire to please and become more like Jesus Christ.
Guarding Against the Flesh
Even though we have victory over the flesh, the enemy will never give up trying to trip us up. If God’s mercy is available to us until our last breath, Satan’s attempt to rob us from a victorious life with God continues that same length of time.
Satan is a crafty enemy. He’s observant. He will go after our weak spots, even after we think they are no longer an issue for us. And if he’s being ineffective in a certain area, Satan will come at us from an entirely new direction.
All this might suggest that we are the tug-of-war rope between God and Satan for our souls. But this view would assume Satan is equal in power to God, which is categorically false. Satan is a powerful enemy, but frankly he needs our help for him to “win”.
That’s why Christ reminds us to surrender to Him, why the Bible implores us to put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), and why we need to abide with Him (John 15:5). Because we need Christ’s power in our lives every single day so Satan does not gain a foothold. The moment we let our guard down, Satan is there, anxiously waiting to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
However, as we put our guard up and do the things we are told to do, we enable the Holy Spirit to direct our lives and help us resist temptation. And even when we are tempted, God provides a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Yes, Satan is a wily foe. But ultimately he is a tempter. He cannot force our hand.
We Have Seen the Enemy…
Trusting in Christ’s payment for our sins and walking with Him in holiness will protect us from falling into sin’s snare.
Because of all the advantages Christ prepares for us, if we get lazy or prideful and fall back into a pattern of sin, we really have nobody to blame but ourselves. This can be incredibly painful to admit.
That is part of the anguish behind having to confess our sin to God; we realize we can’t blame anyone else. Yet it is such a natural defense, it was used as early as the very first sin (Genesis 3:11-12).
Thankfully, God reminds us continually throughout the Bible that He is willing and able to forgive and cleanse us when we seek His forgiveness (1 John 1:9).
If God was willing to offer up His own Son to a painful death so that we might be forgiven, we need no further proof that He wants to forgive us of our sins.
In our pain to admit sin, it feels so terrible we think that we have done something unforgivable. That is the pain of sin talking, not the truth. The truth is that God is pleased to forgive anyone who is repentant (Ezekiel 18:21-22). If you have a sin struggle in your life, confess and repent of it today. God will restore you and set you on the right path again.
When we walk in obedience to Christ, and in all the ways He empowers us for righteous living, sin will lessen its hold on our daily lives.
To maintain victory over the flesh, maintain your connection to Christ daily. Then you will be more empowered to treat sin as the conquered thing that it is in your life.
More verses about victory over the flesh: