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Iím a young man who struggles with my sinful natureóAm I the only one like this?

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Iím a young man who struggles with my sinful natureóIím talking about things such as sexual temptation, violent thoughts, and sometimes a desire to give in to evil. Am I the only one like this? How can I overcome sin? Are there any Bible texts that will help me?


Steve Answers:

You’ve asked three questions. The answers to them are:
1. No.
2. Only by the power of God.
3. Yes.

When I first read your questions, my mind went to Romans 7. Here’s how verses 15-17 read in the New Living Translation: “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things” (NLT).*

Temptation is common to all people here on planet earth. We’re born with a “sinful nature,” which means that our natural tendency is to do what is wrong. We’ve inherited this from Adam and Eve. Maybe you have a long nose that you’ve inherited from your mother, or big hands that are just like your dad’s. You didn’t choose your nose or your hands, they just came along with your genetic package from your parents.

The point is that you’ve inherited a sinful nature from your parents, which came from their parents, etc., all the way back to Adam and Eve’s fateful choice in the Garden of Eden. So it’s only natural that you’re tempted by sex, violence, and revenge. You can probably add to that list egomania, greed, jealousy, rage, gossip, lying, and more.

Again, referring to the book of Romans, “All have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins” (Romans 3:23, 24, NLT).

When people grasp the reality that because of Jesus Christ, everything we’ve done wrong has been forgiven, they can go crazy celebrating! And some celebrate so much that they lose it. They figure that since Jesus forgives us of all our sins, we may as well keep sinning since Jesus will forgive us, right?

Paul addressed that perspective as well: “Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Romans 6:1, 2, NLT).

Paul then describes baptism as a symbol of dying to the way we were born, as natural sinners. He explains that God offers us a new life in that He gives us the power to actually resist what our sinful nature tempts us to do: “Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives.
We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:6, 7, NLT).

Does this mean you won’t be tempted anymore? Of course not. But now you don’t have to give in to the temptation. Paul wrote: “In those days, when you were slaves of sin, you weren’t concerned with doing what was right. And what was the result? It was not good, since now you are ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life” (Romans 6:20-22, NLT).

I often hear people talk about how independent they are, and how nobody and nothing controls them. When they make such claims, I wonder who they’re trying to convince. Are they fooling themselves? Are they making a statement to deny what’s obvious to others? Because if you’re a human being on planet earth, indepen-dence isn’t even one of your options. Sorry, American individual-
ists! Here are your two options:

• You are a slave to sin.
• You are a slave to righteousness.

I’m not making this up. You can find it in Romans 6:16-18. If you’re a slave to sin, you’ll give in to whatever temptation comes your way. If you’re a slave to righteousness, you’ll choose not to give in to temptation, and you’ll choose to do something positive and godly instead. Living for God isn’t just about saying no to doing evil; it includes saying yes to doing good!

Now let’s read Romans 7:21-24: “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” (Romans 7:21-24, NLT).

Sound familiar? Paul answers the question in the next verse, verse 25: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Next follows one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible, Romans 8. I strongly urge you to read it, read it again, underline it, highlight it, and memorize portions of it!

When temptations come your way, renew your commitment to Christ. By belonging to Him, you don’t have to give in to temptation. Resist the temptation by saying, “No.” Then replace it with something positive. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Say you’re facing a sexual temptation, let’s say it’s an opportunity to have sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Resist by telling yourself, I’d really like to do this, but I know it’s wrong, and it will turn out to be bad in the end. Replace it with taking your boyfriend/girlfriend to a positive group setting instead.

If your temptation is looking at online pornography, resist by telling yourself, I’m a sexual being because God made me this way, but I’m not going to cheapen the gift. Replace it with leaving your computer, iPhone, or whatever your pornography source is.

If you have to stay at your computer to do homework, ask one of your parents to come and sit with you for a while! You can also have computer programs installed on your computer to block you from looking at porn sites, or you can have an accountability partner periodically check all the Web sites you’ve been on.

You don’t have to be a slave to your sinful nature. Because of Christ, you can choose to follow God. Galatians 5:16-25 is another good passage for answering your questions. The last two verses read like this: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (NLT).

*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.



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