Last time, I emphatically stated that Jesus would not have commanded us to “take the log out of our own eye” if it were impossible to do so. God would not implore us, over and over in the New Testament, to “put on the new self and lay aside the old self with its evil practices and deeds of darkness” if it were impossible to do so. So why is there so much preaching that suggests believers, rather than experiencing victory over sin, are actually still living under sin’s power; that believers are still desperately wicked in our heart of hearts? Could it be that we agree with this teaching because it actually describes our experience with sin’s rule in our lives?
How do we explain the tension between God’s promise of victory over sin and the tug of sin’s power that we still feel? Let’s start with the promise. God says in Romans 6 to “consider yourselves to be dead to sin.” Why? Because “our old self was crucified with Christ, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For sin shall not be your master.” Remember the word consider (translated reckon in the King James) in Romans 6:11 is an accounting term telling us to remove our name from the “sinner by nature” column in the accounting ledger and place it into the “dead to sin” column. This transformation is God’s fact, God’s promise. But on the other side of the tension, why does it still feel like I am under sin’s power?
Let me explain it like this. Your old nature is like a zombie in a cheap horror picture. Your old nature died with Christ. It was put to death. But just like on the movie screen, the zombie somehow comes back from the dead. But what we need to remember is that the zombie is just that: a walking dead man and nothing more. He has no teeth. He has no muscle. He has no power. But we see him and we fear a return to his influence, a return to our sin inclinations.
Now Satan comes along, props up the zombie, and convinces us that we do indeed have something to fear. But it is not true. Satan, “the accuser of the brethren”, is challenging you based on your past actions or your current temptations, but he is lying. You are not under the power of the zombie. You are under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit living inside you and all the provisions of the new identity that He brings into you life.
The zombie – the walking dead man of our sin nature – is our enemy and we have gathered several posts focused on how to defeat this enemy here for your review. In the meantime, can I encourage you? Don’t fear the zombie and don’t listen to Satan’s accusations. The zombie is powerless and Satan is a liar. The gospel message, the New Testament message, the fact of God’s accounting ledger for believers is this: you have been set free from sin’s power. So lay aside the old self and put on the new man. You can do it!