Tuesday, August 10, 2010

“Victory Over Sin”

 “Victory Over Sin”

One of the most beautiful things in nature is the morning sunrise. The steady rising of the sun illuminating the sky with its soft colors of orange, yellow and red against the backdrop of the white clouds and blue sky brings joy to the soul. The birds chirp, the flowers open and life awakens. It is in this context that one learns about gaining victory over sin.

Darkness and Light
In the natural realm, light from the sun dispels darkness. It is the same in the spiritual realm. Only light from Christ can rid us of the darkness of sin. Two points are clearly seen here: darkness does not dispel darkness, and darkness cannot exist in the presence of light.

Potential for Life
For several thousand years, people the world over have been planting seeds in the soil.
Though darkness seems unpromising, the soil actually contains powerful nutrients that help sustain the life inside the seed. And that which takes place in the natural, also takes place in the spiritual. Since all have been planted in darkness and sin, a powerful nutrient called grace has been freely given to all. “As the plant takes root in the soil, so we are to take root in Christ. As the plant receives the sunshine, the dew, and the rain, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit” (Ellen White, Education, p.106).

Exercising Faith in the Physical Realm
It takes faith to believe that planting seeds in the soil will produce a harvest, but the process is so commonplace that many do not think of it in such terms. Nevertheless, faith must be exercised in the form of planting the seed in the soil in order to get a harvest. 

Evidence of seed planting can clearly be seen in the form of trees, bushes, grasses, and vegetation. These yield fruit which, in turn, bears seeds that fall back into the earth to repeat the cycle. This principle is taught to all students around the world at all levels of education, from pre-school to high school; from undergraduate education to post graduate research. There is a deeper lesson for us as we now consider exercising faith in the spiritual realm.

Exercising Faith in the Spiritual Realm
The physical result of exercising faith by planting seeds is clearly understood by all cultures throughout the world. Let us now consider the effects of exercising faith in the spiritual realm. Even though spiritual matters deal with the intangible and the earthly, while physical matters deal with the tangible and visible, they both produce tangible and visible effects. This is illustrated in a well known account in the gospels.

Jesus had just returned to Capernaum from his Galilean journey (Matthew 9:1; Mark 5:1).
Word traveled quickly that Jesus was in town. Soon there was no room inside the “house of Peter” (Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 267). Jesus was preaching the Word when the roof above suddenly opened up and four men lowered their friend who was sick with the palsy. Having failed to get in at the crowded door, they persisted until they found a way.

“When Jesus saw their faith,” He forgave and healed the paralytic. Faith is visible. It works in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm. Here, in my estimation, stands the strongest statement in all of Scripture of the visible evidence that results from faith.

The friends of the paralytic believed on the name Jesus Christ. The evidence of their faith was seen in their actions. They showed that true faith works by love. This act moved the heart of Jesus. Just as a seed planted in soil will eventually bear visible and tangible fruit, an individual who by faith in Jesus Christ accepts salvation through grace will also bear visible and tangible fruit of the Spirit.

Victory Over Sin
The Bible is very clear that an individual who by faith accepts salvation through grace becomes light (Ephesians 5:8). He will not continue in sin (Romans 6:1-4). Darkness cannot co-exist with light.

There is no promise that the mature fruit of holiness appears over night. Even fruit grown in the natural world takes time to develop. A tree takes time to bear fruit, but during that time of growth it is still a fruit tree. Different fruit trees may yield different amounts of fruit, yet each tree is still a fruit tree. Spiritual growth, like fruit bearing, takes time. And the apparent quantity of fruit will not be the same for all people. Some will bear “a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23). This principle of growth-over-time actually strengthens the relational bond between Christ and His followers.

So what is the victory? The answer is quite simple…faith, faith in Christ! And the very faith Jesus exhibited will be found in His followers. Jesus demonstrated this faith in the beginning of His ministry while in the wilderness. It was seen all throughout His earthly life and public ministry. It was seen even while He was upon the cross. The faith of Jesus was seen in complete dependence upon the words of Scripture. “It is written” was His testimony. Herein is righteousness by faith! Christ demonstrated that “obedience is the fruit of faith” (Ellen White, Steps to Christ, p.61).

We also have a cloud of witnesses who lived by faith in God’s promises. The Biblical book of Hebrews records fifteen people by name, and many nameless others who “obtained a good testimony through faith” (Hebrews 11:39). The Scripture does not record the individuals alone, but also includes their actions. This serves as evidence that faith works. But let none forget that “before faith and obedience became acts of man, they were gifts of God” (R.B. Kuyper).

The abundant life of victory over sin is encapsulated in faith. It is faith that works by love and is empowered by grace. May the Morning Star arise in your heart to dispel the darkness of sin.

--Michael Jones

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For an excellent companion book to these studies, please see Waggoner on Romans: the Gospel in Paul’s Great Letter, by E. J. Waggoner. You may access the complete book at: http://www.1888mpm.org/book/waggoner-romans

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