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The enemy’s attacks on an unbeliever are very different from his attacks on a believer.
In the lives of people who have not put their trust in the saving work of Christ, the devil’s goal is to keep them from doing so. Ultimately, he wants to keep people eternally separated from their Creator. This is what the Bible describes as the power of sin (see Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23).
We can probably recognize the devil’s work to keep us separated from God from our own lives before salvation. If we do not recognize it in our own past, we surely see his schemes being attempted on some of our loved ones.
He works culturally through various worldly philosophies and theories to veil the reality of God so that people equate all things to some meaningless accident of nature. He works personally through abuse, trauma, disaster, disease, sickness and every other fallen thing to skew the character of God so that people will not consider a god who would allow such pain. He also targets people through addictions and other vices. His goal is to consume their focus before they have an opportunity to hear the Good News.
In the life of a Christian, however, these attacks do not have the same result. That is because the moment we believed in Jesus, “our old sinful selves were cruciﬁed with Christ” (Romans 6:6). Yes, belief in Christ broke the power of sin instantly. Christians are free from it (see Romans 6:7-10).
“But What If I Still Sin?”
As exciting as this sounds, the idea that the power of sin is broken is where many believers get hung up. Because they still struggle with sin, they begin to question if they were ever really a Christian. They say, “But I still sin, I still struggle and I still feel. I guess the power of sin isn’t broken for me. I guess I’m not really a Christian.”
This is a lie! The enemy can only use sin to make us question our status before God. But because of our new identity in Christ, sin can no longer actually separate us from Him. That is why Paul boasted, “[Nothing] will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).
Please understand that the Bible does not assure that a Christian will never sin or struggle. Even the apostle John warned that those who claim to be without sin are only deceiving themselves (see 1 John 1:8). Do not fall for the enemy’s sleight of hand to link what you do with who you are. As a Christian, the Bible assures that though you inevitably still fall and fail, these failures no longer define you. This is freedom from the power of sin.
No Longer a “Sinner”
The incomprehensible meaning of this is that though you may still sin, you are no longer identiﬁed as a sinner. After all, Christ “re-gened” you with His identity! Ongoing victory in your life hinges on renewing your mind to this truth. This is precisely why the apostle Paul encouraged, “So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).
Notice, Paul did not urge us to try to be dead to sin, as if it is something still to be done. No, he said to consider, which means to “think about carefully.” In other words, renew your mind to the truth that your missteps, mistakes, flaws, failures and shortcomings do not change your status before God.
Ongoing Victory over Sin
With all that said, this does not mean that you should not desire or pursue growth in your life. It does not mean you should settle in the place you are today. Or that God does not care about whether or not you stop sinning. You should, of course, want to be freed from the entanglements and trappings that hurt you, hurt others or draw your focus away from God. Your heavenly Father intimately cares about what you do because He wants the absolute best for your life.
Unquestionably, sin and struggle are not part of God’s best for you. Perhaps the same ole, same ole is getting old to you. Trust me, I get it! But as I explore in my book, “Shut Up, Devil: Silencing the 10 Lies behind Every Battle You Face,” nothing physical, emotional or spiritual will change in your life until you start believing correctly.
I once heard the late preacher, Adrian Rogers, say, “The me I see is the me I’ll be.” That is what I found in my life. All the effort from all the years of trying to change things about me never worked to change me. Therefore, I continued to produce rotten fruit from the rotten root of how I saw myself.
But when I understood the reality of my new, righteous identity in Christ and saw myself accordingly, the real transformation began to happen from the inside out.
Think of it this way: Right believing influences right behaving, which results in right living. Too many of us battle because we have that the other way around.
Kyle Winkler (www.kylewinkler.org) is the creator of the popular Shut Up, Devil! mobile app. His newest book, “Shut Up, Devil: Silencing the 10 Lies behind Every Battle You Face,” is available wherever books are sold. Kyle holds a Master of Divinity in biblical studies from Regent University. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.