Dying to Overcome – Every Day

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24 NKJV 

While reading through Galatians again, the part of this passage about even our desires being crucified jumped out at me. I have studied with people who tell me that even though they stopped smoking, the desire to smoke always remains. One man told me, “I will always be a smoker. I just will always choose not to smoke.” That makes sense as we all have sinful flesh, but do not have to give in to the flesh.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NKJV

Still, do I take Galatians 5:24 to mean that our sinful desires are crucified once and for all never to return?  Can a born-again smoker live the rest of his life without ever craving to smoke the rest of his life? Can a selfish person be born again and never crave self again? Can a sexually promiscuous person be born again and never crave immoral sex again? Do we give people the idea that if they are born again and are walking in the Spirit, that it is not normal to be tempted? Do we teach once cured always cured? And if so, is that as dangerous as teaching once saved always saved? 

After prayerfully pondering this, I think I found the answer in something Jesus said.

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,and follow Me. Luke 9:23 NKJV (emphasis on “daily” added)

Jesus did not teach once saved always saved, nor did He teach once “cured” always “cured.” Every day we wake up as sinners. Every day we must deny and crucify self. The passions and desires being crucified in Galatians 5:24 are not a one-time event. We continue to be cured only as we continue to crucify self. 

Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” that he begged God to just take away. However instead of taking it away, God just said, 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

Some have twisted this passage to mean that Paul could just keep on sinning and God’s grace would just keep on forgiving him, but that is not the case at all. Paul realized  

when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV

Paul knew that while God did not remove the weakness or temptation, he did not need to give in to it, because God supplies the strength to overcome. Of course many believe the thorn was a physical issue and not a moral temptation. even so, Paul says,

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

Salvation and victory over sin continue, only as we continue to crucify the flesh along with its passions and desires every day. Every day we must deny ourselves. Every day we must pray “Not my will, Your will be done.” So not only are sinful habits crucified, but the very desire to sin can be crucified-daily.      

Posted in 2017c Gospel in Galatians, Feature Tagged , , , permalink

About William Earnhardt

William Earnhardt has been a Bible Worker, literature evangelist and lay pastor in Oklahoma and Texas, before coming to the Tampa Bay area, where he has been a Bible instructor and lay pastor for the past 12 years. He has also held revivals and evangelism seminars, as well as soul winning workshops from Peru to Connecticut. You can find William's study guides and devotionals at williamdearnhardt.com


Dying to Overcome – Every Day — 15 Comments

  1. Dear William, be blessed! I find the post at six o'clock this morning. I wake-up early in the morning this Friday, to study the lesson with pastor Dereck HopeSS. Now, after the program 6 AM, I feel asleep, I decide to go back to my bed. As I was laying, I find this post. Regarding to my today's schedule, if I loose my first times I'm risking to profane my Lord's sabbath. Your post helps me to make a good decision:" daily denying self and daily crucifying self". After reading the post, I decide to wake up and begin my activities even when the flesh needs to sleep again!
    It's senseless for some perhaps, but what I feel after reading is pushing me to testify! Many blessings upon you! And happy Sabbath to fellows!

  2. In the Beatitudes we find the path of the Christian's experience. What you are describing here William is "Blessed are the meek...", and "Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness..." which follows genuine repentance.

    Meek and lowly of heart is the opposite of pride, and exalting self. This meekness in the life is our escape from the temptations that will always be present, and the hunger for righteousness is how one may "break off thy sins by righteousness" which Daniel advised to Nebuchadnezzar whom God had warned in a dream concerning his pride. (when we, empty of self, hunger for righteousness, the Spirit is then able to fill us)

    Taking Jesus' yoke upon us is our path to victory. Yes, daily(as Dr. Luke prescribes), for as you pointed out, we remain fallen in nature and still possess the freedom to chose.

  3. William, as you aptly point out in your article, we are saved in the present moment, in present truth. That we had a saving relationship with God in the past is no guarantee that we will be saved in the present or future. It is only by continuing to hold fast to the Word that we will be blessed and have assurance of salvation. Our Saviour will be with us to the end, if only we will abide with him.

  4. With the BORN AGAIN PERSON: The devil is wrath, therefore the temptation will always be strong, it is the devil's best weapon. However, greater is He that is in Christ than he that is in the world!!!
    God promised to see us through ALL temptations..... The Bible MUST be our closest companion, because it is the "BLUE PRINT FOR OUR LIVES"
    Let us endeavour to pray for each other, without ceasing!

  5. William, do sinful desires present an on going struggle to find a solution that works, till the next time? The text that you mention,1 Corinthians 10:13 seems to say yes. For an alcoholic or a smoker that can't live without a cigarette, the craving is beyond control for some. It was never a problem for me but what about other temptations from the devil and his angels? Do we think that that he is determined to lose one more soul? Ephesians 6:12-18.

  6. What can you do if you don't experience daily "freedom" from sin or the devil, if after claiming to be a SDA Christian for decades you are still in bondage - unable to cease from sin.

    • Sin is something we all struggle with. I have found that for me, before being born again, I had no power to do right, because I was a slave to sin. After being born again, I am not in bondage to sin, but when I sin, the Holy Spirit would have warned me internally, but I still ignored the prompting and then fall.

      Although there are many passages of scripture that are very instructive to me. Here are five that I strongly recommend: Rom 6:5-14, 1 John 3:4-9, Mark 9:29, Phil 4:8 and 2 Cor 10:3-5.

      I still sin and fall, but I have found that when I do it is because I did not take advantage of the tools of victory that have been freely given to me.

      This means, continuously avoiding any television program or any other media or interaction that exalts immorality or any portrayal that is not completely wholesome - TV, magazines, articles, conversations, etc. 2 Cor 10:5.

      Choosing to read the Word of God over all the seemingly "clean" encounters in the world around me. Heb 4:12.

      Forcing myself to think and meditate on thoughts that are pure, lovely, etc Phil 4:8, and deliberately turning aside the thoughts around me that bombard my senses.

      Pushing myself to expand my time in prayer. Watching my diet. Mark 9:29.

      Living in Christ is for me a daily growing process, but I am assured that He will continue to lead me to total victory in all areas.

      • I really appreciated your comments and as I read your cautionary note about strengthening our spiritual life to have a victorious life, the essence of this passage came to mind. It has helped kept me on the path of righteousness. It has to do with with your note on our prayer-life.

        "It is only through the grace of God that we can make a right use of our influence. There is nothing in us of ourselves by which we can influence others for good. If we realize our helplessness, and our need of divine power, we shall not trust to ourselves. We know not what results a day, an hour, or a moment may determine, and never should we begin the day without committing our ways to our Heavenly Father. His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing words for us, and influencing our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world." RH February 15, 1906.

    • A while back a gentleman, I am sorry I don't remember his name, gave us a wounderful testimony of coming back to Christ. He had been an SDA, and wondered totally from the God of his mother and father. As he was in a down time of his life, he had no one to turn to. The Holy Spirit had never given up on Him. He started listening. Then he started reading his Bible. Over time it became a nightly necessity, and he was led to pray and meditate on Christ. He got to the point where he would rather die than miss a day without spending time with Christ. After two years he was led to go back to the church of his father. To make a long story short, he like Paul of old testifyies: "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. We don't have to be at the end of our ropes to turn to Christ. We don't have to follow this same way of coming to Christ. We do though need to decide to give in to the goading of the Holy Spirit, and surrender daily with Bible in hand, prayer, and meditation. Then we too can experience daily freedom from sin. We then say: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.... From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Galatians 6:15,17.

    • Dear Elle:
      I feel your question as a pin prick in my own heart; I myself feel like I am drowning in sin. We both need saving.

      I sometimes feel the need to bow my head, and literally raise my arm to heaven, and ask, "Lord, save me!"

      That is what Peter had to do. Matthew 14: 28-32

      We both, you and I Elle need to trust in our life Saviour. To paraphrase Saint Matthew: "immediately Jesus stretched out his nail scarred hand and caught them.

      "None are so sinful that they cannot find strength, purity, and righteousness in Jesus, who died for them." Steps to Christ. page 53

      "He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity, and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ."
      "Pray more fervently; believe more fully." Steps to Christ page 64.

      That is all we both can really do Elle: Pray fervently, believe more fully, and yield ourselves to God. "Pray that you may not enter temptation." Luke 22:40
      "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done." Luke 22:42

      Don't be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God. Steps to Christ page 64

      I deeply pray that these few words of encouragement will help you as they have helped me in our shared experience of struggling to find freedom from the bondage of sin. Steven

  7. The text in 1Corinthians 10:13 needs a bit of explanation. The text says that we all have been overtaken by sin at one time or another. But a way of escape has been provided so that the temptation will not be more than we by ourselves can remedy. The question that came to mind is,in what way would a way of escape be evident to our finite minds? How would we know if a way of escape was evident? Do we then take part in the promise? When the text says it is more than we are able that seems to be as bad as it gets. Hopefully some opinions will be forthcoming.

    • In my humble opinion the Holy Spirit will reveal to you your need for a way of escape. The question is will you listen to his bidding and turn to Christ? No, you don't have to be at the end of your ropes to turn to Him. But He is still there for you if you wait that long.

  8. William, many thanks for your posts. I am always richly blessed and strengthened by the pragmatic down to earth insights. May GOD continue to richly bless you as you minister before Him.


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