In my article How To Deal With Sin, we saw that God sanctifies us by transferring who we are in heaven (a justified spirit) to who we are on earth (a fallen soul). He does this when we ask Him to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us ours sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
But sometimes, sin will just not go away. We have besetting sins that reoccur again and again. How do we deal with these types of sin?
1. Identify the part of your soul (mind, will and emotions) that is vulnerable to temptation.
Where is the weak link? Rather than ask God to just cleanse your soul in general, ask God to cleanse your mind, or your will, or your emotions.
For example with men, pornography can deeply affect their emotions. While their mind may be saying, “This is not right, I don’t want this”, their emotions are so riveted with desire that they cannot overcome it.
To get rid of this sin, men need to ask God to wash their EMOTIONS— even their WILL if they have lost their desire to change.
How is your particular sin affecting you? Ask yourself, “Is this sin affecting my mind, my will or my emotions. Then ask God to cleanse these areas.
Deep-set sin is like a tattoo. It’s in there. If you want a tattoo removed you’ll undergo multiple laser treatments. With each treatment the tattoo fades until it is completely gone.
This is the way God removes your besetting sin. Each time you are faithful to ask Him to “cleanse your mind, will or emotions”, He diminishes it’s hold on you. In time your sin fades and is completely gone. What you couldn’t do through your own ascetic efforts, God does from the inside out. God gets the glory!
2. Understand where the temptation to sin comes from.
Temptation comes from one of three places, sometimes all three: your fallen body, the world culture around you, the devil.
Let’s look at these.
God is in the process of reconciling man to Himself. The first part of you that he reconciles is your spirit. The Bible calls this JUSTIFICATION. It’s your spirit that is regenerated and sits in heavenly places with Christ until His return.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
Secondly, God desires to reconcile your soul. The Bible calls this SANCTIFICATION. God does this as we, by faith, change our mind, will and emotions to conform with our justified spirit in heaven (the Kingdom of God).
Do not conform any longer to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Finally, our bodies will be reconciled when Christ comes again and they are changed in an instant to a sinless, glorified body. The Bible calls this GLORIFICATION.
Brothers, I tell you this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be CHANGED, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52
In the meantime our bodies are fallen and scream for us to give them pleasure. Our bodies tempt us to to do things our spirit does not want us to do.
If you are aware that your body is still fallen, you will be insightful to the fact that it calls on your mind, will and emotions to FEED it. Just say NO.
If you don’t want to say no, then ask God to wash your MIND. The Bible says that those who live according to their bodies (sinful nature) have their minds set on what that nature desires.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their MINDS set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
You deal with your body when you ask God to wash your MIND. You do this by meditating on the Word of God. See my article, The Purpose of Meditation.
Of course the culture of the world likes to keep your mind stirred up. There are plenty of magazines, music, television programs and movies to throw you off track.
For the guys it’s sex. For the girls it’s feeling safe through the things of the world. But in either case God tells us to guard against it.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world— the cravings of sinful men, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does— comes not from the Father but from the world.
1 John 2:15-16
To combat this, you simply must make some hard decisions. You have to be aware that while there are many things in this world that are permissible, they are not necessarily beneficial.
“Everything is permissible for me”— but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”— but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12
We can’t be complacent to let ourselves be absorbed by the world. When watching television or the latest fashion dictates our time or our passions, then it’s time to reassess. It may mean that we have to repent and ask God to wash our mind, will and emotions from certain things. Above all, don’t think that you are being denied by God. His will is always pleasing.
Do not conform any longer to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is— his good, PLEASING and perfect will.
Here’s what you can feed your mind on instead:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS.
Sometimes temptation come directly from the devil and his demons.
Before we can deal with the Devil, we need to know who he is and what his strategy is against us.
Who The Devil Is
1. He was Lucifer, a high level guardian angel who walked among the fiery stones on the holy mount of God.
You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
2. His became prideful because of his beauty. He sinned and fell from God’s grace.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.
We know that Lucifer’s beauty made him prideful but what was the impetus that caused him to sin?
3. Lucifer fell because he was jealous of man.
What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than GOD and crowned them with glory and honor.
Lucifer became jealous when he realized that he was NOT going to be the apex of God’s creation— MAN WAS.
In a rage to God, Lucifer responds with the famous five I’s in Isaiah 14:13-14.
He screams to God “I, NOT MAN will”:
• I will ascend to the heavens;
• I will raise my throne above the stars of God;
• I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
• I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
• I will make myself like the Most High.
Lucifer is having a hissy fit over not being the pinnacle of God’s creation.
Through this we must realize that in the Devil, we have a very angry adversary. This is the way the Bible describes him now:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8
The Devil’s Strategy Against Mankind
The Devil’s strategy against mankind is to attack him according to the generational sins and curses of his forefathers.
It is both fascinating and alarming to know that technology companies today track online user activity so they can instantly offer products and services that specifically appeal to them.
Yet this is exactly what the Devil does in order to appeal to our greatest desires and weaknesses.
He does this by understanding our generational sins and curses.
What are generational sins and curses?
Generational sins are attitudes, actions, beliefs, behaviors and/or habits that we have inherited from our family or relatives.
The Bible has some specifics things to say about generational sins and curses that we need to understand in order to combat the Devil.
Blessings and Curses
Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse. You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. You will receive a curse if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn from His way by worshiping foreign gods.
If the Israelites committed a sin and did not repent of that sin, this is what God said would happen:
The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.
The family would receive a curse that would extend to the third and fourth generation.
It’s not that the children are responsible for the sins of their forefathers, it’s that they are vulnerable to the sin patterns created by the sin. SIN PATTERNS are passed along to the children.
This is what the Devil is looking for in you. He is tracking the sin patterns created in you through ancestral sin. He knows where you are the weakest.
Can we break the curse of ancestral sin?
Christ broke the curse of ancestral sin through His death. Are you IN Him?
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
Christ became a curse for us when He died on the cross. Through His death, Christ buried the seed of our old fallen cursed nature, and through His resurrection gave us a new nature.
Sanctification is APPROPRIATING (a mental activity) God’s new nature in us by bringing who we are in heaven to who we are on earth. This process exchanges the “pattern” of our old self with our new self. As long as we remain in Christ, we receive His BLESSING because He became our CURSE.
But the Devil agitates that. He tries to tempt you along the lines of your generational curse even though it has been dealt with. We can combat this in three ways:
1. Do some house cleaning. Confess the sins of your forefathers.
While we are not responsible for the sins of our ancestors, God wants us to acknowledge and confess them on their behalf. This shows that we agree with God about what He has said about sin. Of course, if we succumb to the pattern of these sins, God wants us to confess our sin as well (see my article, How To Deal With Sin). This is what Nehemiah did. A scriptural example of this can be found in Nehemiah 1:4-11.
Nehemiah acknowledged the sin of his forefathers and confessed his vulnerability to it.
2. Stay IN Christ and be aware of your vulnerability to generational sin.
Staying in Christ is a mental activity. We discussed this mental process in How To Deal With Sin. The process of staying IN Christ is to realize when your behavior is OUT. Are you unforgiving? Then you are out of the pattern of Christ. Return by simply confessing this sin pattern and letting God do the work.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
3. Deal with the Devil.
The Devil will continue to pressure you along the lines of your generational sin even though you have dealt with it in Christ. If he senses that you will cave there, he will PUSH there. He actually uses demonic spirits to do this.
For example, lets say you have a propensity towards ANGER. You’ve had difficulty dealing with this in the past, but you have overcome in Christ. Even so, the Devil pushes there, he knows your generational weakness. This is what it could look like:
The Devil “pushes” giving you thoughts that appeal to your generational curse. To combat this, the Bible admonishes us to deal with any thoughts that are not in line with Christ.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
Is there a way to take unwelcome thoughts captive? To deal with the Devil? The Bible gives us a three step process.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The Bible tells us to:
1. Submit ourselves to God.
2. Resist the Devil.
3. He will flee.
This is what it would look like:
This is the same process Jesus used when He was tempted by the Devil in the wilderness.
The devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Jesus resists the Devil through scripture showing His submission to God, then He tells the Devil to flee.
Not only do we use scripture to resist the Devil, but we use it diminish the pull of our generational curse. Scripture reenforces God’s perspective of us in heaven so that He can transfer those thoughts to our mind, will and emotions on earth.
God wants to free us from our most deep-set sin. He has promised to do so if we just ask Him to cleanse us each time we sin (1 John 1:9).
But there are obstacles against us: our bodies, the world culture and the Devil himself.
As long as we are aware of these obstacles and are faithful to address them, God will set us free from the most besetting sins of our lives.