I grew up in a church that taught me well the knowledge of the Bible. I am sure they also taught the work of the in-dwelling Spirit, but it never caught my attention until 1985 while in Bible College. I knew the Holy Spirit lived in me, but really knew nothing of His work in and through me. I thought salvation was God making it possible for me to go to Heaven, and character was going to help me live right until I got there. For this reason I struggled with temptation and sin continually. It was never anything noticeable; at least that is what I thought, but I was a hypocrite.
A hypocrite is when the inside does not match up with the outside or when the outside does not match up with the inside. My outside appeared to be living the Chris-life, but I was miserable on the inside. Self-righteousness was eating me up! I dare say that if I had continued in my own strength, I would have long since been out of the ministry or service to the Lord.
Resisting the Devil is all I attempted to do on the outside and therefore, defeat was sure to follow. Over the years, God has shown me the way of victory! One of my favorite passages is “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14.)
Three great words in this chapter, Romans 6, summarize the secret of gaining victory over temptations. These three words are closely related to how one submits to God:
We must reckon our bodies to be dead to sin. The word reckon means to take inventory. Outside pressure comes to us every day and tempts us to have, be, and do what we want. Paul tells us that we are not to partake in those temptations to sin. We are not to permit our eyes to look with lust, our ears to listen to gossip, our tongues to speak words of death. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Corinthians: “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached unto others, I myself should be a castaway.” (I Corinthians 9:25-27). An athlete will bring his body into subjection to his will to keep fit for the fight or the race. Can the believer do any less in order to win through to victory over sin?
Yielding is an act of the soul. The body has no power in and of itself. Our members will either respond to the outside pressure or it will become “in tune” to the inside persuasion that the Spirit of God offers. There has to be an act of the will in this regard, Paul tells us later in Romans, “for to will is present with me”. In other words, when temptation comes, we must first recognize we have no power of ourselves. We cannot have victory in and of ourselves. We must yield. We must yield our body to our soul and our souls to our spirit. The word yield means to give up the contest. A book I co-authored with Dr. George Crabb expounds on this idea by calling those outside pressures “triggers”. Those triggers will grab our heart (the seat of our mind, will and emotions or soul) and will consume us with its passions.
As we understand those triggers and turn our heart towards our spirit, and we submit to God, we swing wide the door for the outpouring of His power. His Spirit is resident in every believer; but only as we submit to Him does He liberate us from the shackles of sin.
We do not have to give in to the temptation. Instead, we can give in to God, and in that act of yielding, we learn to know the truth (Jesus) and the truth will make us free. Three times in this passage we are instructed to know something. The word “know” means to be familiar with or also to recognize. When Christ died, He died for us. So when we believe in Him, we die. When Christ was buried, we were buried. When Christ rose again, we rose again. This is what Galatians 2:20 speaks of when it says, “I am crucified with Christ. I am dead, but I am now also alive in Him. I am to live by His faith and to relish and know and believe He loved me and gave Himself for me. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36). We need to get hold of this clear Word of God, “sin shall not have dominion over you.” Our focus should always remain on HIM. He loves you. He indwells you. He can overcome the devil, because…greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world!
There is one more step to the realization of this truth. We must go on in Gods way. “For ye are not under the law, but under grace” (verse 14b.) In other words, continuing victory for the emancipated believer does not depend on his own efforts but on the abundant supply of God’s grace, sufficient for every need. Daily (and even every few hours) yield your body to your soul and your soul to your spirit and your spirit to the Holy Spirit, and claim the victory already won at Calvary. I am free indeed, and so are you if you are in HIM!