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Part 4  --  How  To  Overcome

     Dear friends, how can we become spotless and perfect in character?  There is only one way.  And this one and only way is not found on earth.  Nor is it found inherently within our own hearts.  This one and only way is found solely through Jesus Christ!
     But many will declare; "Well, that is very easy to say, but how do we perform it?"  So, what is the practical process in which we can overcome all sin and perfect our characters in righteousness?  This then brings us to the fourth in this issue of salvation, or the issue of How to Overcome.  What is the practical process in which we may be perfect through Christ?
     The main point at stake with this issue is what do we do, what is our part, in the practical process of overcoming temptation and sins.

     Most all the Babylonian churches--including the SDA church, believe that Christ has already overcome for us and so we do not need to exert any efforts to overcome.  While others believe that justification is indeed received as a gift by faith alone, but that sanctification, or the overcoming of sin, is a combination of God's power combined with our weak human efforts in gaining the victory over all temptation and sin.
     Since this issue has to do with temptation, what exactly is temptation?  Temptation is the means by which those who claim to be the children of God are tested and tried.  Temptation is also enticement to sin.
     So when we are tempted we are actually being tested and tried, by being enticed or lured to commit sin, in order to see if we are really the children of God whom we claim to be.
     Is God the one who tempts us to commit sin?  No.
     "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man..." James 1:13.

     Since it is not God who tempts those who claim to be His children and followers, then it must be the Devil who tempts us to commit sin.  But is temptation sin?  No.
     "For we have not an high priest [Christ] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15.

     All temptations are brought to us from the Devil.  But where do these temptations originate from?
     "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:14-15.

     The Greek word "lust" (#1939 in Strong's Concordance) translates "desire."  So every man is drawn away of his own inward desire and enticed to yield to sin.  So these temptations originate from within each of us.  Why?  Because each person, since the fall of Adam, has inherited a fallen sinful nature.  And it is from this natural internal source that Satan tempts us to give in to these natural sinful desires and commit sin.
     So temptation is not sin, but sin is committed when we give in to the desires or inclinations of our fallen sinful nature.  Thus sin is committed by our choice to sin, not because we are forced to sin.  Sin is our choice, and it hurts our Saviour!  And as the author of all sin is the devil, when we choose to sin, while we claim to be the followers of Christ, we in effect give Satan permission to taunt our Saviour and cast reproaches upon Him!
     None of us wish our Saviour to be hurt or reproached by the Devil and his agents because of our failure to get sin out of our lives.  And yet, when we choose to sin, this is exactly what occurs!  Every time we choose to sin, we in effect give Satan permission to reproach our Saviour!  Then how, brothers and sisters in the same precious separated faith, can we overcome all temptation, no longer choose to sin, and stop allowing Satan to reproach Christ?
     First, we must recognize that we are being tempted, because if we do not spot the temptation then how can we know that we are in danger of committing sin?  After we recognize that we are being tempted, then we must also recognize that we are weak against the power of Satan, that we are powerless to resist the devil's bidding, and that without a greater power then Satan we will surely fall into sin.  This understanding is key to overcoming sin!  And through what channel alone does God's grace and power come to us?  Only through the Holy Spirit!
     Once we recognize that we are being tempted and that we are weak and powerless to resist, then and only then do we begin to feel our need of the grace and power of Christ and trust in Him to aid us in overcoming the temptation and not commit sin.  Thus we begin to understand that without Christ we are and can accomplish nothing.
     "...for without me, ye can do nothing." John 15:5.

     God will never fail His humble trusting children!  Here is when we begin to understand that God has given us a distinct honor and privilege to come and present our needs directly before Him at any time we need to!
     "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16.

     "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalms 46:1.

     "My help cometh from the Lord....The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul." Psalms 121:2, 7.

     The only way to come to the throne of grace is through prayer.  God has given each one of His children a most powerful weapon and defense against Satan and temptation, and this most powerful offensive and defensive weapon is the power of prayer!
     Prayer: something so simple to perform that even the humblest and most inexperienced follower of God may use it in combating sin.  And yet prayer is so powerful that even the weakest believer in the truth can utilize it against temptation.  Yet, there is no power at all in the prayer itself!  Prayer itself cannot save anyone from the power of temptation.  The power to overcome sin is not found in the prayer itself, but the power is found in the One whom we direct our prayers to.

     Without the realization, that only in Christ can the strength be found to overcome temptation, our prayers are useless and but a hollow form against the power of the Devil.  It is only as we realize our weakness and flee to our loving and strong Saviour, fervently pleading with Him to grant us the power to overcome the strong foe, that Satan can be defeated.
     So when we are tempted, and we recognize that we are weak and cannot resist on our own, and we send up our prayers to Christ--pleading with Him to grant us His strength to overcome, then what do we do?  We must believe that our Saviour has heard our prayers, and must have faith that He will grant us all the strength necessary to overcome.
     "Jesus saith unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Mark 9:23.

     Then what do we do?  We must show God that we are serious about overcoming sin, and then do battle against self, submit or yield our will to God, and fully surrender ourselves to Him.
     After we have submitted or yielded or surrendered our will to God, and have chosen to follow God's will and not our own, then what are we to do?  Will God overcome for us?  No.  We must then exercise faith.  We must put forth earnest efforts, resolutely resisting the temptation and the Devil before we will gain the victory in Christ's strength.
     This battle and march against the sins which so easily beset us is not fought for just an hour, or a day, or a year, but is to be fought for the rest of our life!  It is not once saved always saved, but it is a continual battle against sin and self.
     Sanctification is not attained instantly, but it is attained by growing in grace day by day.
     "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23.

     "I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily." 1 Corinthians 15:31.

     "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called..." 1 Timothy 6:12.

     Will God ever fail or let down the expectations of His humble children?  NO!
     "God knows the feebleness of the body and of the mind, and will require no more of him than He will give him strength to perform." Testimonies, vol 2, p 98.

     Praise God!  We indeed have a strong, compassionate, merciful, and loving Helper who knows--by experience--all the conflicts we will ever be called upon to fight.  And He has promised to help each one of His followers to gain the victory over every temptation.
     By putting forth earnest efforts in resisting temptation, and following God's will, our prayer becomes a prayer of living faith in the power and grace of God through Christ in us to overcome sin.
     "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." James 2:26.

     So it is by resisting the Devil and his temptations, that forces him to flee from us as he fled from Christ, and as we take this first step in overcoming, we are also cleansing our hands and purifying our hearts from sin.
     "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.  Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded." James 4:7-8.

     But not one of us will obtain the grace, mercy and power from God necessary to overcome sin until we show Him that we are serious, and put forth the ernest efforts to resist the temptation!
     "By whom we have receive grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name." Romans 1:5.

     "...one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful." 1 Corinthians 7:25.

     So after we recognize the temptation, we must also recognize that we are weak, then pray for God to help us overcome, then yield and submit ourselves to God to do His will and not our own, and then put forth the efforts needed to resist the temptation.  It is only at this point that God recognizes our sincerity and sends the grace and power through Christ, which then works in us, combining with our feeble efforts, to aid us in advancing until we will have gained the victory.  Thus the 4 key steps in overcoming sin and temptations are:
          -- Recognize the temptation and humbly admit that we are weak,
          -- Pray to God for grace and strength to overcome,
          -- Submit our will unto God,
          -- Resist the temptation by putting forth efforts to do God's will.

Recognize, Pray, Submit, Resist.  R.P.S.R.

     A practical example of this process can be seen in the following example.  A liar who has told dishonest most of his life decides to accept Christ as His Saviour and has been cleansed from his old life to become a new creature in Christ.  He then decides that he will no longer tell lies, but will be honest in everything.  A situation occurs at his work in which he made a simple mistake, but instead of admitting it and seeking to correct it, he lets it go hoping that no one would notice.  Well, after a few weeks his boss notices the mistake and then asks him if he knows who made it?  The thought comes to him to just say no, and hope that his boss would then give up the search and correct the mistake himself.  They decide not to directly answer this question by asking their boss a different question hoping that he will become involved in this different subject and completely forget about the mistake.  But the boss asks him again if he knew who made this mistake.  Seeing that he cannot excape giving his boss a direct answer he finally tells him that he does not know who did it.
     In the above example, when was sin committed?  The sin was not committed until the lie came out of their mouth.  The thought to lie was the temptation, and all the prior steps which led up to the lie coming out of their mouth, were an artfully designed trap to lead them to lie and commit sin by disobeying God's will.  Of course, the best time to resist the temptation to lie was at the very beginning when the question was first asked them.  At the first suggestion to do wrong, is the easiest to overcome through God's strength and grace; every other step towards the sin becomes more difficult to resist.  But even at the point where they could not escape giving a direct answer to their boss, they still could have overcome the temptation and not committed sin.
     What they should have done at the very beginning was to recognize that they were being tempted to break God's will; then pray to God for the grace and strength to resist; then submitted their will to God, and firmly resist the temptation; and then they would not have committed sin.  But we must all pray before we try to resist any temptation, because if we do not pray, then we are actually trying to resist it in our own strength!
     Thus it is God through Christ who is working in us to do His will.  And in being united with Christ and divinity, we can--with Him--gain the victory over all sin.
     "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Philippians 2:12-13.

     "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.

     "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.  Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed (Christ) remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God....We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." 1 John 3:6-9, 5:18.

     We do not have a passive Saviour, who gives us His strength and then leave us to battle alone.  But Christ has promised to battle with us against sin and temptation!  What a glorious privilege and honor granted to us that we might be united with our God!  We are not called to fight this battle alone, but Christ has promised to fight it with and through us!  And if we suffer by crucifying self in order to do God's will, then we would be suffering with Christ!
     "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:16-18.

     What a privilege to overcome and struggle with Christ and, in His infinite strength, gain victory over all sin to the glory of God which shall be revealed in us!  If we just could comprehend this glorious truth, that through faith the all-powerful God is working with and in us to overcome sin to the glory of Him who has called us out of darkness to His marvelous light, how could we ever fail and fall into sin again?
     "For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37.

     "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." Luke 18:27.

     "...in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Romans 8:37.

     But what happens if we, who profess to serve and worship God alone, should choose to disobey God and to commit sin?  The only way we could sin, would be for us to reject God and cast Him away from us so that self would instead be revealed.  And in allowing self instead of Christ to be revealed in us, then we would be denying, piercing, and crucifying Christ afresh!
     If we could just keep self out of the picture, allowing self and pride to be crucified and mortified, and instead allow God to work through and in us--thereby revealing Him and His righteous character to all around us, we would then gain the victory over sin because of our union with Christ which strengthens us.
     "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily." Colossians 1:26-29.

     So by retaining a living connection with Jesus, allowing Him to live in and through us, His righteousness becomes our righteousness by a living active faith.  Thus through His strength we cease to commit sin, and become a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust.
     Thus there is no room for any glory to be given to any one of us, because all the power we used to obey God and His law came from God through Christ to us!
     "...God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14.

     Brothers and sisters, we can only live the life of faith and obedience through and in Jesus Christ when we are dead to self.
     "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9.

     "For to me to live is Christ..." Philippians 1:21.

     "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20.

     But in allowing self to be revealed in us, instead of Christ and His righteousness, we would be robbing God of the right to live His life through us, and thus we would be stealing away any glory which would have been given to Him!
     But without prayer, there is no possible way we could overcome self and temptation!  That is why Satan hates prayer so much, and is doing everything he can to keep us from praying--especially when we are tempted.  Prayer is the only channel we have to communicate directly to Christ in every time of need.  Prayer is therefore the breath of life to the Christian.
      Brethren, as sinful and unworthy as we are, we have been given the distinct honor and privilege of talking directly with, and can even urge our petitions before, the King of the entire universe!  There is no other royalty who will allow every subject in their kingdom to approach them at any hour with their petitions and requests.
     It is out of love for unworthy you and me that our Saviour is willing to take all our fervent requests before the Father.  And the Father, out of love for Christ and humanity, is willing to hear and answer our requests according to His will!
     "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16.

     What love is this brethren?  And yet, many have come to look upon prayer as a drudgery, or an almost unnecessary item for salvation.  But prayer is vital for our spiritual life and for a victorious warfare against every temptation and sin.  But it must be the prayer of faith.  Without an active exercising of faith in using God's strength to overcome, it is impossible to please God.
     "But without faith it is impossible to please him..." Hebrews 11:6.

     "...If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain (of sin), Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matthew 17:20.

     "...and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4.

     This road of overcoming is not easy to travel.  It is a straight, rough, and narrow pathway.  Yet, yoked up with Christ, the hard rough road becomes plain, and any trials or suffering becomes bearable and the victory sweet.
     "Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ....Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:3-7, 9.

     "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake..." Philippians 1:29.

     Brethren, let us remember to pray to God for His strength to overcome every time we find ourselves tempted, submitting ourselves to Him and then firmly resist the Devil.  May we allow God to live in and through us.  May we allow the righteousness of Christ to shine from us, that glory may be given to the Lord God of all.

     But some may be praying and yet still finding themselves overcome by temptation.  If this is your experience, please write for our compiled Bible and SOP list of the reasons why we find ourselves overcome by sin; the various practical ways on how to resist every temptation; and the promises which God provides for us in this battle against sin.
     May we remember the above truths, especially the 4 keys to successfully overcome all sin and temptations--R.P.S.R. (Recognize, Pray, Submit, Resist).  And may we always remember to pray for strength to overcome, and then escape sin through our Saviour's power and righteousness to the glory of God.
     But all the praying in the world cannot save one soul from sin if we choose not to resist temptation!  This then brings us to the fifth and last part in this series of salvation: THE HUMAN WILL.