Jesus Does Not Ask Us for a Permission Slip: On Killing Sin

beechThe evangelical doctrine of sanctification–growth in godliness–needs a serious shot in the arm. Specifically, we need Jesus back in the mix.

Badly.

Let me quickly explain. I do not deny that we sinners are needy and broken. We surely are. Our whole life, as Martin Luther said, is a life of repentance. It must needs be. But I do wonder today if we have so focused on brokenness and weakness that we have lost sight of Christ.

Christ is not merely the initiator of the Christian life. Christ is the whole of the Christian life. Christ saves us, and Christ powers us through our earthly sojourns. When it comes to killing sin, we do not only reckon with our struggle with the old man. We most focus–in terms of killing sin–on Christ. He is powerful. He is awesome. He is ready to help. He is gracious to strengthen. We are weak, but he is strong. He has crucified sin (Rom. 6:6).

I have said as much in a recent piece on fighting lust for Desiring God, the ministry that features the sterling Bible teaching of John Piper and others. I encourage you to read the whole article. There is no sin we face, no pattern of weakness we find, that cannot be overwhelmed and overcome by Jesus. Here’s how I frame this for Desiring God:

There is good news for a flagging church: we do not carry out God’s mission in our own strength. The church is founded on, led, and sustained by Christ. We are not left on our own to get our sins sorted out. Rather, the Bible portrays a Christ who goes after his people with unflinching and gracious resolve.

Jesus does not wait for permission. He does not fit the picture of a weak-handed solicitor, hoping we can somehow find our way to him. Jesus goes to ordinary men and summons them to be his disciples. Jesus goes to the sick, and heals them. Jesus goes to the dead, and raises them. Jesus goes to the cross for sinners, and saves them, uniting them with himself. Pornography comes with an excruciatingly high cost — to us, our families, our churches, and our mission — but Christ paid it all for anyone who would believe and follow him.

Our understanding of Jesus matters for the struggle against pornography. Jesus knows that we are not who we should be. But he will not leave us there. He goes and finds the one wandering sheep (Luke 15:1–7). He invigorates us. Even as he rebukes us, he restores us. Satan accuses us, and seeks to torpedo us, but Jesus intercedes for us, and empowers us to conquer through his Spirit (Romans 8:37; Hebrews 7:25; Revelation 12:10–12). The mission may have waned, but Jesus brings it roaring back to life, time and time again.

Read the whole thing. Pray for Christ to strengthen you in your own fight against sin. Jesus is not a weak Savior or Shepherd of the sheep. Jesus does not need a permission slip to work in us.

Jesus is strong to save, and strong to sanctify. Reclaim that in your life.

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Image: Beech and oak trees, Isle of Wight, from Wikimedia Commons