Marks of a Christian in the War Against Sin

hugo-jehanne-543575-unsplashEven though Christians are forgiven of their sin they still struggle daily with the indwelling sin that remains in them and will remain in them until the Lord returns. This is why Colossians 3:5 calls us to “put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” Christians are called to not tolerate or put up with sin but instead make war against it every single day through the help of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).

One of the places we see this ongoing battle with exemplified is in Romans 7:7-25 when Paul shares his own struggle in this area. Some interpreters have taught that this text refers to Paul’s life before coming to faith in Christ but a careful reading of the text seems to reveal this is referring to Paul’s present life as a follower of Jesus. There are a few things he mentions in his fight against sin that are true of every Christian and those are what I want to highlight in this post. Christians will struggle with sin but there are some characteristics that will always be present in their war against sin.

A desire to practice righteousness. Every Christian will have a deep desire through the work of the Spirit to obey God. Part of the regenerating and saving work of Jesus is to put in us a heart that longs to practice righteousness in our lives. So no matter how strong the battle against sin is in the Christian’s life there will always be a abiding desire to obey their Lord. Through this passage you can sense Paul’s desire to do what’s right even though he says he often fails to do it. He highlights that desire in verse 18 when he says, “For I have the desire to do what is right…” That’s a mark of a true Christian in the ongoing fight against sin. It was true in Paul’s life and will be true in ours as we follow our Lord while making war with the sin that remains within us.

Delight in God. This is closely tied to the point above but Christians will delight in God. That means delighting in His presence, delighting in His commands, and delighting in our growing relationship with Him. When Christians find themselves consumed with sin and delighting in things of the world they will be unsettled. They will sense the conviction of the Spirit and will be uncomfortable. A true Christian will be miserable the longer they walk in disobedience to their Lord. They have been given a heart that delights in God and delighting in anything else doesn’t cut it. Paul mentions this in verse 22 when he says, “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being.” He goes on to say that even still he sees the sin that remains in him that is constantly pulling him away from delighting in God. However, when Christians find themselves delighting in anything other than their Lord there will be a sense of conviction. There will at times also be correction from the Lord as we see mentioned in Hebrews 12:5-11.

Inner battle between the flesh and the Spirit. This is where all the stuff explained above comes together. The Christian has two natures abiding within them and those two natures are at constant war. There is the new man and the old man and they are going at it daily to gain ground in our hearts and lives. The presence of this conflict is not a sign that someone isn’t a Christian. In fact, it’s completely opposite because this conflict actually indicates someone is a Christian. If someone wasn’t a Christian this conflict wouldn’t be present. It’s precisely because they have a new nature that there is an inner war happening every single day. If you read through this passage you see this battle between the flesh and the Spirit happening in Paul’s life. Christians throughout history have had and will continue to have this conflict going on within them.

The good news for Christians is this battle with sin is only temporary. There is coming a day when our sin will be completely done away with. Until then we keep fighting and along with Paul we proclaim “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (v. 24-25).

Advertisements

Dealing with Sin Teaching Series

Dealing With Sin Social MediaChristians struggle with sin. When someone becomes a Christians they don’t stop struggling with sin. In fact, before someone is a Christian there isn’t really a struggle at all. They are dead in their sins and live in rebellion against God. However, when someone becomes a Christian their sins are forgiven and they receive a new nature (Ephesians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This new nature in Christ is what starts the struggle with sin. The old nature remains. Until Christians get to heaven that old nature will still be with them. This old nature is at war with the new nature (Paul shares this struggle in Romans 7). The good news is God has revealed in His Word how Christians can deal with sin. We are not to continue in our sin but strive to put off our old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Below you will find a link to a three week teaching series I wrote and taugh on the topic of dealing with sin. In this series, I cover three ways the Bible tells Christians to deal with sin – confession, repentance, and war. Each week focuses on one of these things. This series includes three teaching manuscriptssmall group questions, and the series graphic.

The link below will take you to Download Youth Ministry where you can purchase the entire series or individual messages from this series. While you’re there check out some of the other resources DYM offers.

Click Here to Purchase the Dealing with Sin Series


Note: Please keep in mind this series was originally written for and taught to students. However, it’s a great series for other audiences as well so feel free to tweak it and use it how it best fits your context. I hope this series is a blessing to you and your ministry.

What We Did This Week

Dealing With Sin Social MediaWe had great nights in our student ministry this week. This past weekend we had our Collide Retreat so there was good momentum coming off that which carried into our mid-week nights. Below are the details on what we did.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Upfront Game: BFF Showdown Round 2. A great game from Download Youth Ministry. We played the “round 1” version of the game earlier this year. You bring a few pairs of “BFF’s” on stage and they have to answer questions about each other.
Group Game: We didn’t really do a group game and normally don’t at Porch (we stick to mostly upfront games in our high school ministry) but we did kick off a NCAA March Madness Bracket Challenge. We gave students 15 minutes to fill out a bracket and will give the winner a prize pack in a few weeks.
Worship Set List: Let it Be Known (Worship Central), This Grace (Kristian Stanfill), Raised to Life (Elevation Worship), and Always (Kristian Stanfill).
Teaching: We finished our “Dealing with Sin” series by talking about making war with our sin. We talked about the command to put sin to death (Colossians 3:5), how we put sin to death (Romans 8:13), and what Jesus says about cutting sin out of our lives (Matthew 5:29-30). Click here to listen to the message.
Highlight: Talking about the topic of making war with and killing sin. It’s one of my favorite topics to talk about and something God has for years been teaching me more about.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Slurpin with Worms. Simple, fun upfront game. All you do is fill up some plates with whip cream and mix some gummy worms in. Bring a few contestants up and have them race to find and eat all the gummy worms. Only catch is they cannot use their hands. First one that finds and eats all their gummy worms wins. Click here to download the graphic we used for this game.
Group Game: The Purge. I saw this game awhile back online and was pumped to play it with our group. The game is simple but crazy. You give every student a blown up balloon and the goal of the game is to be the last one standing with your balloon. You want to try and pop other peoples balloons. There are no rules except you cannot physical hurt someone else. We put a 20 minute countdown on the screen and threw a bucket of “supplies” out in the middle of the room. The bucket had plastic spoons, balls, and bandanas. It was a crazy game and students loved it! Click here to watch a video of a youth group playing this game. Also, click here to get the graphic we used for this game.
Teaching: Finished our “Dealing with Sin” series by talking about making war with our sin. See details above under what we did at Porch. Click here to listen to the message from Edge.
Highlight: Playing The Purge. It was such a crazy game and our student had a blast!

What We Did This Week

Dealing With Sin Social MediaWe had a great nights this week in both our middle school and high school ministries. We changed things up a bit in our high school ministry and had a game night as well as started a new series. We started this same series in our middle school ministry this week. Below is a look at what we did this week.

What We Did at Porch (High School)
Game Night:
We basically set up a bunch of round tables and had various board and table games for students to play. We also had a small Kan Jam tournament that some of the students took part in. We also provided free pizza and drinks. It was a great night of hanging out and building relationships.
Teaching: 
Even though it was a game night, we still kicked off a new teaching series called “Dealing with Sin.” In this series we are talking about how Christians can deal with sin in their lives. For this first week we started by talking about confession. We looked at 1 John 1:9 and talked about what confession is and what it is not. We also talked about some other practical things in regards to confessing sin. Click here to listen to the whole talk.
Highlight: Probably seeing students that normally don’t interact sit around a table laughing and having a good time as they played games together. That was the whole reason I wanted to do a game night. I wanted students to get to know each other better, have fun, and build community.

What We Did at Edge (Middle School)
Upfront Game: Tape Face. This has been going around the internet for awhile but the idea is simple, take scotch tape and wrap it around your face. What results is usually a very disturbing and funny looking face. I brought two pairs of students on stage and had them tape their partners face up with the goal of making the ugliest face. We gave them a two minute time limit.
Group Game: Red Light Green Light. Classic game. We had students start on one side of the room and the goal was to touch the wall on the other side of the room and come back. I had a high school student lead this game. When they said “green light” students could run. When they said “red light” they must stop. If a student doesn’t stop or keeps moving when “red light” is called out has to start back over. They could also call “yellow light” which means crawl on hand and knees.
Teaching: Same as our high school night above. Started the new series and talked about confession. Click here to listen to the whole talk from this night with middle school.
Highlight: Seeing one of my high school leaders, Zach Bindus, on stage leading a game. He comes to Edge pretty often and helps out. He wants to be a youth pastor and it’s awesome seeing him already doing “youth ministry” as a high school student.

Bullying and Student Ministry

Upset Teenage Girl With Friends Gossiping In BackgroundBullying is a form of child abuse and 4 out of 10 children will drop out of high school this year because they are being bullied at school or abused at home. When students going to school, one out of every four of them will be bullied. Also, one out of five students admit to being the bully themselves. Bullying has been and is still a major issue within teen culture. Not only is this an issue within the walls of a middle school or high school, but with the rise of new technology it’s an issue online as well.

As a student pastor I rub shoulders with students every week who are being bullied as well as being a bully themselves. I encounter students who hate going to school and will possibly think about taking their life if the bullying doesn’t stop. Not only this, but I see bullying creeping it’s way into our student ministry as well. I’m not alone in this, student pastors and youth workers every where encounter these same situations and students. So what are we to do? What can student ministries do to help bring a decline in bullying? Here are a few things I believe we as student pastors and youth workers can do.

Educate our students. Use this issue to educate your students about bullying. Show them the devastating reality of what bullying does to students. Doing this will help your students are are being bullied have a voice and feel comfortable knowing you are trying to stop this thing. Also, this is a way to show the bullies what they are actually doing. When appropriate, use films such as Bully to educate your students.

Show your students from the Bible bullying is a sin. Call bullying what it is-sin. There is no way around it, bullying is never a good thing and from God’s Word be called a sin. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Bullying always involves talking in a negative way towards someone. Even when the bullying is physically, it usually involves words. The Bible makes it clear our speech, our words, should be for building up and should offer grace to the hearer. Does bullying do that? The Bible expects us to treat others with respect and dignity as image bearers of God and students need to know bullying as no place in our life’s. Don’t be afraid to show students from the Bible why bullying is wrong.

Partner with parents. Many times parents are unaware of bullying that may be going on at school or online. If you catch it before the parents do, make sure and have a conversation with the parents. You may talk with the student or students, but realize our job is to equip and partner with the parents. Don’t leave them out of this. Also, share resources with parents to help them understand this issue. One resource you can share is Covenant Eye’s eBook called A Parents Guide to Cyberbullying.

Don’t allow bullying in your ministry. Your student ministry must be a safe place for students. Don’t allow bullying to gain an inch in your ministry. If you see it happening, stop it and don’t be afraid to set tough boundaries. Students should never feel unsafe at our ministry because of bullying. Also, students should realize bullying has no place whatsoever in our ministry.

These are just a few ways I believe student ministries can help when it comes to this major issue of bullying. What are some ways you and your ministry are fighting against bullying?