In Part 1 of this series, we learned that it's our sin nature, inherited from Adam, that causes us to sin. In Part 2, we learned that, while our sin nature was defeated at the Cross, it was not taken away and still has the potential to rule us if we do not follow God's plan of victory. In Part 3, we will begin to discuss how we can live free from the dominion of the sin nature. Not sinless perfection, but real freedom (John 8:36).
The only path to victory over the sin nature is to live and walk in the grace of God. That's because the only power greater than the power of sin is the power of God's grace. That's why the Bible says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14). When we live under grace, the sin nature is no longer our master. It has no dominion. If we try to overcome sin through willpower, on the other hand, sin will have dominion over us. That's because the power of sin within us is more powerful than our willpower. That's why Paul says, "for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Rom 7:18). Just willing it isn't enough! We need the grace of God working in us "both to will AND to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13).
While we can't perform what is good through willpower, we can be like the Psalmist who said, "I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me." (Psalm 57:2). That's right, He will perform ALL things for me! In John 15:5, Jesus told us, "for without me you can do nothing." Conversely, He also said that if we abide in Him, "the same bringeth forth much fruit." (John 15:5). Through Jesus, we CAN live in victory!!! (Rom 6:14, 7:25, 8:2,11). "Thanks be unto God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor 15:57).
Another powerless approach people take towards overcoming sin is works. They think if they will just put enough time and effort into spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, and fasting, they will then have the power to defeat sin. The problem is, as soon as they run out of gas in their labor and efforts, they are back in sin. The power is not in our works. The power is in the finished work of our Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:18-2:5). Spiritual disciplines are important and have their place, but there's no power in the act of praying or reading the Bible. The power is in the grace of God received only through faith in Jesus. Spiritual disciplines are meant to help maintain and strengthen our faith in Jesus, not to replace faith in Christ as the only means of grace (See Rom 4:16, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 11:6).
Grace does not come as we read the Word. It comes as we understand the Word and believe what it says about Jesus and about the sufficiency of what He did for us on the Cross (See Matt 13:19, Heb 11:6, James 1:22-25). Some would add that we must also do what the Word says. That's true, but not in the sense most use it. To do what the Word says is to trust in Jesus and trust in His finished work. Being a doer of the Word isn't about receiving blessings in return for obedience to commandments; it's about receiving grace through faith in Christ's obedience to the Cross. The obedience God is looking for from us is "obedience to the faith." (Rom 1:5). When we practice obedience to the faith, by looking to the finished work of Christ as the means by which we receive all things from God, including victory over sin, God causes us to walk in obedience to the commandments (Ezk 36:27 KJV, Phil 2:13). Our only burden is faith in Christ. I've said it before, but I'll keep saying it, the burden of keeping the commandments is on Christ, living and working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 11:28-30, Gal 2:20-21, Phil 2:13). The easy yoke and the light burden Jesus gave us is faith in Him:
"Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." John 6:28-29
In sum, remember, only grace is greater than sin!
"For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace." Romans 6:14