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The Battle for Holiness
Scripture: Romans 7:21-25; 1 John 3:9; Mark 7:21-23...
Track 4 of in the series
Running time: 56 minutes, 01 seconds.
Through our union with Christ in His death we are delivered from the dominion of sin. But we still find sin struggling to gain mastery over us. We may not like the fact that we have this lifelong struggle with sin, but the more we realize and accept it, the better equipped we will be to deal with it.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

The Battle for Holiness

The whole idea of standing up to sin sounds great and all of us at one time or another have tried it, but it seems as though we are fighting a war that we are losing. There seems to be many battles and each time sin attacks in different ways. To many, it all seems hopeless. Paul writes of a fact that every one of us have experienced.

Romans 7:21-25 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in Godís law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to Godóthrough Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to Godís law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Through our union with Christ in His death we are delivered from the dominion of sin. But we still find sin struggling to gain mastery over us, as Paul depicted so vividly. We may not like the fact that we have this lifelong struggle with sin, but the more we realize and accept it, the better equipped we will be to deal with it.

1 John 3:9 (NIV) No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.

There is a positive here. Many will see this fact as a negative but God designs it to be a positive. Believers have an indwelling propensity to sin. The Holy Spirit maintains within us a prevailing desire for holiness. The believer struggles with the sin God enables him to see in himself. This is what distinguishes Christians from unbelievers. The Christian, with the help of God, sees his sin and hates that he did it. The unbeliever lies in his sin and is content in his darkness. The fact that man can see his sin helps him to overcome it. Unbelievers donít see their actions as sin nor do they care if it is.

If we are to wage a successful war against the enemy that lies within, it is important that we know something about its nature and tactics.

ē First of all, scriptures indicate that the seat of indwelling sin is the heart. Mark 7:21-23. The heart in scripture is used in various ways. Sometimes it means our reason or understanding. Sometimes it means our affections or emotions and in some cases, our will. Generally it denotes the whole soul of man and all it faculties as they work together in doing good or evil.

o Scriptures tell us that the heart is deceitful and unsearchable to any but God (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
o Even as believers we donít know our own hearts. None of us can discern fully the hidden motives and secrets that lie there. And in this unsearchable heart dwells the law of sin. Much of sinís strength lies in this that we fight with an enemy we cannot fully search out.
o The heart excuses, rationalizes and justifies our actions. Sin uses this to blind us to areas of sin in our lives. It causes us to deal with sin using only halfway measures, or to think that a mental agreement to the Word of God is the same as obedience. We need to ask God daily to search our hearts for sin we cannot see.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

How do you think God searches our hearts for sin? Through His Word as we read it under the power of the Holy Spirit.

True or False: We canít search our own hearts.

True: If we try to do this there is a chance we will fall into one or both of two traps: 1) a dark self evaluation-Satan uses this to make us discouraged and dispirited so we will not fight the battle for holiness. 2) The second trap is that of missing the real issues in our lives. Satan will lead us to focus on secondary issues. We will focus on sins we think are important but miss the real sin that causes all the others. The Holy Spirit enables us to see the sins we are blind to.

ē The second thing we should realize is that the indwelling sin works largely through our desires. Ever since his fall in the Garden of Eden, man has listened to his desires more than his reason. Desire has come to be the strongest faculty of manís heart.

Think about all the sins we commit where desire overpowers reason. These would be sins when you knew that what you were doing was wrong or dangerous but you still did them because of your desire to do them. What are some examples?

The thing that is tough, the world knows this also and appeals to your sense of desire to cause an action or reaction on your part. Look at the commercials we see on TV. What do the commercials appeal to? How do they know your desires? Through the study of consumer behavior.

It is real important to note that not every desire is evil. Paul speaks of his desire to know Christ, of his desire for the salvation of his fellow Jews and the desire that his spiritual children grow to maturity. We are speaking here about the evil desires that lead us to sin. James said we are tempted when we are dragged away an enticed by our own evil desires.

James 1:13-15 When tempted, no one should say, ďGod is tempting me.Ē For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

If we are to win this battle for holiness, we must recognize that the basic problem lies within us. It is our own evil desires that lead us into temptation. We may think we are responding to outward temptations that are presented to us. But the reality is, our own evil desires are constantly searching out temptations to satisfy their lusts.

You have probably found yourself in a situation with sin when you are battling it but find yourself at the same time playing with it. Sometimes while confessing a sin, we find ourselves starting over again to dwell on the evil thoughts associated with that sin. Why is that? What causes us to do that?

ē The third thing we must understand about indwelling sin is that it tends to deceive our understanding or reasoning. Our reason, enlightened by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God stands in the way of sin gaining mastery over us through our desires. So Satan goes after our minds by deceiving it. He does it by using our old self. And his does it carefully and in degrees. How does he do this?

1. We are first drawn away from watchfulness. Satan does this by giving us a false sense of confidence that we are beyond a particular temptation. We look at someone elseís fall and say, ďI would never do thatĒ. There are warnings for the Christian here.

1 Cor. 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you donít fall!

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

2. Then we are drawn away from obedience. We are drawn away from obedience by the abuse of grace. We abuse grace when we think we can sin and then receive forgiveness by just confessing the sin with the intent to do it again soon or someday. We abuse sin when, after sinning, we dwell on the compassion and mercy of God to the exclusion of His holiness and hatred of sin.

3. We are drawn away from obedience when we begin to question what God says in His Word. This was Satanís first tactic with Eve. Genesis 3:1-5 Just like with Eve, he tells us that our sin is just a little sin and God wonít judge us on it. We believe it and disobey while all the time grieving God with our actions.

So we see that though sin no longer has dominion over us, it wages its guerrilla warfare against us. If it is left unchecked, it will defeat us. Our recourse against this warfare is to deal swiftly and firmly with the first motions of indwelling sin. If temptation finds any lodging place in the soul, it will use that to lead us into sin.

We must always be on alert against sin. Our hearts are unsearchable and our desires are insatiable. Our desires will mess with our reason if we are not prepared against sin. Knowing Godís Word and constant prayer helps in the battle we experience with sin.

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.Ē