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Prayer to Overcome Sin



Free Book On Ceasing from Sin and Living to Do God's Will

On the Free Books page is a free book that includes detail on ceasing from sin and living to do God's will. I encourage you to download it from here or from Google Books.

Overcoming Sin

One of our first and highest priorities in prayer is to overcome sin: to learn how to and to apply the power of God to overcome sin. To overcome sin we have to overcome intense direct spiritual opposition - for we wrestle not against flesh and blood (even our own), but against spiritual power. We also have to overcome spiritual opposition that works by means of widely held intense and deceptive doctrinal opposition. If we seek to overcome these forces arrayed against us using our own strength we will fail, but if we hold fast to truth and faith and use the power of God we will succeed.

Success in producing results in all prayer depends on success in prayer to overcome sin.

If our hearts know nothing against, us, we have confidence in approaching God; then whatever we ask for, we receive from him; because we are obeying his commands (that we trust in the person, power, and work of God’s Son Jesus Christ and keep loving one another) and we are doing the things that please him. (1 John 3:21-23)


Fortunately, Jesus has given us explicit instructions that tell us how to overcome sin.


All Things Are Possible to One Who Trusts In the Person and Power of Jesus Christ

Opposition to overcoming sin, both direct spiritual and doctrinal, works to undermine believing it is possible to do so. Indeed, it must.

Opposition to overcoming sin works in two basic ways:

  • Prevent us from believing that it is possible to overcome sin so we don’t attempt to
  • Deceive us into fighting against sin without trusting God for the power to overcome
    • through legalistic rule keeping
    • through our own effort

When the father of the boy with an unclean spirit asked Jesus about the issue of possibility Jesus answered him:

Everything is possible to someone who has trust. (Mark 9:23)


All things are possible to someone who believes on the name of God’s Son Jesus Christ (who trusts in his person, power, and work).

Matthew recorded that Jesus said,

If you have trust as tiny as a mustard seed... nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)


When the disciples asked Jesus about entering the kingdom of God Jesus answered them,

With man this is impossible, but with God everything is possible. (Matthew 19:26)


There are many things that man, using the power of man, trusting in his own person, power and work, is unable to do. But, if a person will use the power of God made available to him, trusting in the person, power, and work of Jesus Christ, all things are possible, nothing will be impossible. Overcoming sin is not possible to a person who trusts in his own person, power, and work and tries to overcome. Failure is inevitable. But a person who trusts in the person, power, and work of Jesus Christ and follows Jesus’ instruction how to use that power to overcome sin will succeed.

Let no one deceive us: the doctrine of truth will teach that all things are possible - nothing is impossible - to a person who trusts in the person and power of Jesus Christ. Such a person will find that the person and power of Jesus Christ is more than sufficient. His instruction how to overcome sin is just as true and effective as his instruction how to obtain eternal life. Any doctrine that claims overcoming sin is not possible denies that the person, power, and works of Jesus Christ are sufficient. It also denies that Jesus’ instructions how to overcome sin are true and effective. Such a doctrine declares that the person and power of Jesus Christ is not trustworthy to provide us the power for our most basic need: to obey God and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.


Align Our Life With God’s Command to Receive His Power

There is a principle to receiving from God in prayer: Trust in the person, power, and work of Jesus Christ and by that trust align our life with his command. When we do that we receive from God the power, the instruction, and the means to receive the results for which we have prayed.

A man afflicted with leprosy came to Jesus, knelt down in front of him and said, “Sir, if you are willing you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him and said, “I am willing! Be cleansed! And at once he was cleansed. (Matthew 8:1-3)


The leper could not make himself clean. He did not have the power. He aligned himself with Jesus’ command and was cleansed.

Some people brought him a paralyzed man lying on a mattress... He said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, pick up your mattress and go home!” And the man got up and went home. (Matthew 9:2,6,7)


The paralyzed man aligned himself with Jesus’ command and was restored.

Jesus told others to go show themselves to the priests, wash in the pool of Siloam, divide up a few loaves and fishes, and fill waterpots with water. Lepers, blind men, disciples, and servants at a wedding aligned themselves with his command, did what he said to do and as they did received power from God to do what they could not do.

There was at the pool by the Sheep Gate a man who had been ill (without the strength or ability to move) for 38 years. Jesus told him to “Get up, pick up your mat and walk!” Immediately the man was healed and he picked up his mat and walked. (John 5:1-8) The man aligned himself with Jesus’ command and received power to move and control his body. But Jesus wasn’t done with the man. Afterwards Jesus found him in the Temple court and said to him, “See, you are well! Go and sin no more or something worse may happen to you!” (John 5:14) Surely, the man who had just aligned himself with Jesus’ command to get up and walk aligned himself with this new command... and he received the power needed to produce the results aligned with the command.

If we understand that the two people Jesus commanded to “go and sin no more” - the man without strength (John 5:1-14) and woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) - are representative of all of us, put ourselves in their place, and align our lives with Jesus command to “go and sin no more,” then we will receive power, instruction, and means from God that will produce results aligned with his command. We receive power to “go and sin no more” the same way we receive power to “be cleansed or get up and walk.”


What Is Overcoming Sin?

It is “go and sin no more.” Overcoming sin is ceasing from sin in this life. Yes, there is widely held doctrine that it is not possible to cease from sin in this life. There is scripture that appears to support this doctrine that it is not possible. Yet there is scripture that appears to indicate that it is possible. Besides that Jesus tells us all things are possible and nothing is impossible if we trust in him. He tells us he sets us free indeed free from sin. He gives us specific instruction telling us how to overcome sin.

May God send his Spirit of truth to guide us and lead us into all the truth. May God also help us submit our desires, beliefs, and understanding to him so we walk in truth. We put on the armor of God so we may be able to stand against the adversary’s deceptions.


The Power and Means to Overcome Sin

To overcome sin we must:

  • overcome temptation to walk in a way not submitted to God
  • overcome temptation designed to sow corrupt desire in our heart
  • remove corrupt desire(s) in our heart that are bringing forth corrupt fruit of sin
  • plant the Word of God into our hearts to bring forth the good fruit of a walk submitted to God.

God gives us power, instruction, and means to cease from sin.

  • Fear of the Lord
  • Armor of God
  • Jesus Instructions for Overcoming Sin
    • Remove the Corrupt Tree of Desire Against Submission to God
    • Plant the Good Tree of the Seed of the Word of God
  • Forgiveness and Cleansing
  • Empowering and Guiding of the Spirit of truth


Fear of the Lord

By fear of the Lord men depart from evil (sin). (Proverbs 16:6)


Fear of the Lord is not just an attitude towards God just like faith is not just an attitude towards God. Like faith, fear of the Lord is a power of God. It is a power God gives us to depart from sin. Like faith, fear of the Lord is produced in us by the Word and Spirit of God. It is not something we just decide to have.

Fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, enabling one to depart from the snares of death (sin). (Proverbs 14:27)


The fear of the Lord enables one (gives one the power needed) to depart from sin.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5-7)


Again we are instructed to trust in the person, power, and work of the Lord with all our heart, not to trust in our own person, power, and work. We are to walk in the power of the fear of the Lord and turn away from sin.

Actually having fear of the Lord requires experiencing God’s protection from destruction of living our lives our way and not submitted to God. The woman caught in adultery certainly had that experience. The man healed from 38 years of paralysis and then told to sin no more lest something worse happen to him had that experience as well.

Besides giving us power to depart from sin, fear of the Lord is life aligning: it causes us to align our lives with God’s will that we cease from sin. It sows within us the desire to be submitted to God. This helps us overcome temptation to walk in a way not submitted to God and temptation designed to sow corrupt desire in our heart. It also gives us the desire to remove corrupt desires in our heart that are bringing forth corrupt fruit of sin and plant the Word of God into our hearts to bring forth the good fruit of a walk submitted to God. The power and life aligning of the fear of the Lord is required to cease from sin.


Armor of God

Be powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength! Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary. For we are not struggling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; (Ephesians 6:10-17)


God warns us that we struggle against powerful spiritual forces and instructs us to be strong with his power we receive in union with him. He instructs us to put on the armor he gives us. In his instruction he explicitly declares that the armor he gives us is sufficient so that we will be able to stand against the tactics (persecution, affliction, trouble, and temptation to sin) of the Adversary. He explicitly declares that with his armor we will be able to resist, win the battle, and stand. Even more, he declares specifically that with the shield of trust (in his person and power) we will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows (persecution, affliction, trouble, and temptation to sin) of the Evil One. The armor of God helps us overcome temptation to walk in a way not submitted to God and temptation designed to sow corrupt desire in our heart.


Jesus’ Instructions for Overcoming Sin

It is surprisingly easy to read over Jesus’ instructions for overcoming sin and not realize what they are.

If your hand makes you sin, cut it off! Better that you should be maimed but obtain eternal life, rather than keep both hands and go to Hell, to unquenchable fire! And if your foot makes you sin, cut it off! Better that you should be lame but obtain eternal life, rather than keep both feet and be thrown into Hell! And if your eye makes you sin, pluck it out! Better that you should be one-eyed but enter the Kingdom of God, rather than keep both eyes and be thrown into Hell, (Mark 9:43-47)


Jesus’ instructions are clear. We are to remove from our being whatever causes us to sin. But what is that? What causes us to sin?

From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and cause a man to sin. (Mark 9:21-23)


Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves by aligning your lives the same way he aligned his, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, with the result that he lives the rest of his earthly life no longer controlled by his desires, but to do the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1,2)


We were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various desires and pleasures... (Titus 3:3)


I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)


But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (Romans 7:23)


Where do fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from selfish desires at war within you. (James 4:1)


Each person is tempted when he is enticed by his own desire. After it has conceived, desire brings forth sin. (James 1:14,15)


Sin is a power working within the heart of man to cause a man to sin. It is a corrupt tree bringing forth the corrupt fruit of sin. Sin is essentially the desire to live life one’s own way rather than be submitted to God.

Overcoming sin requires that we follow Jesus’ instructions and remove from our being the corrupt tree that causes us to sin and then plant the Word of God into our heart so it can bring forth the fruit of righteousness. This is the essence of repentance - a change of heart.


Remove the Corrupt Tree Within Us Bring Forth Corrupt Fruit (Sin)

If your hand makes you sin, cut it off! Better that you should be maimed but obtain eternal life, rather than keep both hands and go to Hell, to unquenchable fire! And if your foot makes you sin, cut it off! Better that you should be lame but obtain eternal life, rather than keep both feet and be thrown into Hell! And if your eye makes you sin, pluck it out! Better that you should be one-eyed but enter the Kingdom of God, rather than keep both eyes and be thrown into Hell, (Mark 9:43-47)


What makes us sin? Desires to live our life our way not submitted to God - selfishness. What action are we to take? Remove them from our being. How do we do that?

And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed (the smallest known seed at the time), you would say unto this sycamine tree (the most notoriously difficult tree to remove), Be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6)


We are to use our faith - our trust in the person, power, and work of the Lord Jesus Christ - and command the corrupt tree of sin-causing desires to be plucked up by the roots and cast into the sea - and it will obey us.

Desires contrary to the command of God all come down to a common root: what I want - to live life my own way rather than submit to God.

  • what I want to have or possess
  • what I want to consume
  • what I want to do
  • what I want to experience
  • what I want to be
  • what I want others to think I am

What we must do is command the desire to live our lives our way - what I want - to be plucked up by the roots and cast into the sea. We must trust in the person and power of God to provide us what we need and what we want. Our desires must be submitted to God.

We cannot cease from producing bad fruit without removing the tree that produces bad fruit.


Plant The Good Tree Bringing Forth Good Fruit: The Fruit of Righteousness

We cannot bring forth good fruit without planting the seed of the tree that produces good fruit.

We cannot leave a void when we remove the selfish desires from our hearts. We must plant desires that bring forth good fruit.

  • do God’s will and those things pleasing in God’s sight
  • be pleasing to God
  • bring forth fruit to God
  • cause God’s name to be hallowed in the earth
  • cause God to be glorified

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves by aligning your lives the same way he aligned his, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, with the result that he lives the rest of his earthly life no longer controlled by his desires, but to do the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1,2)


This fruit comes from the Word and Spirit of God. We cannot produce it of ourselves. We must sow the Word of God into our hearts and guard it against seed sown from Satan to choke it - including selfish desires. It will produce the faith by which we please God. It will produce the desire to do his will.

If we remove a corrupt desire we must be diligent about planting the opposite godly desire. Ask God to show you what to plant.


Forgiveness and Cleansing

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)


Sin, whether an act of sin or a sinful desire held in our heart, puts us in trespass against God and mars our being. It leaves a blemish or a spot of unrighteousness. To truly be free from that sin we must confess it as sin, ask God to forgive us, believe we receive that forgiveness, and ask God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. Even though it takes the blood of His Son Jesus to do so, God is faithful to cleanse us from our sins.


Seek The Guiding of the Spirit of Truth

We may have desires, or even ways of thinking, of which we are unaware that are either sinful or could cause us to sin. We are dependant on the guiding of the Spirit of truth to guide us and lead us into the truth of our own being. God knows our desires and our way of thinking. He knows what is sin and what is not. We must relentlessly seek God to guide us to remove from us all that is not pleasing to him. If something is found, we must ask him if it is sin. We must be brutally honest. It does not profit us to think something is not sin if it is. If something is sin we must confess it and be cleansed from it. Ask God: What was the last sin I committed? What desire did it come from? When I remove that desire, what opposite desire do I plant to replace it? What desires do I have that I should not have?

As we examine our hearts we should examine our thoughts and seek the Spirit of truth to guide us and lead us into the truth of our thoughts. Is a thought pleasing to God? If not, is it temptation coming from without attempting to conceive corrupt desire, or is it coming from within? If it is coming from a desire within our heart, what is the desire? Is it sin?

Resist Temptation That Plants New Sinful Desire

Once we have removed sin-producing desires from our hearts, it is necessary to resist the temptation designed to plant new ones back into our hearts.

Each person is tempted when he is enticed by his own desire. After it has conceived, desire brings forth sin. (James 1:14,15)


A person is tempted at one level when he in enticed by a desire planted in his heart that is contrary to the Word of God. When sinful desire conceives and becomes planted in our hearts it brings forth sin. Jesus was tempted in every way the same as we are, yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus did not have desires that were contrary to God’s will. When Satan tempted Jesus he was trying to plant those desires - to cause them to conceive and bring forth sin. He tried to plant the desire of what I want to consume, what I want to be or have others think I am, what I want to have or possess. Jesus resisted the temptation and kept the desires from conceiving in his heart. We must do the same.

Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)


Fear of the Lord and putting on the armor of God are particularly helpful in resisting this and all other temptation.

When resisting temptation it is particularly important to discern the difference between temptation and sin. (As one should also do in resisting the temptation to doubt versus doubt.) Temptation is not sin. Tempting thoughts are not sin, but evil thoughts that arise from sin within a person's heart are an indication of sin. God knows the difference and when tempting thoughts come we must ask him if they are temptation or sin and if they are coming from evil desires within our heart. We must be absolutely submitted and committed to his answer. It does not profit us to measure sin as less than sin. On the other hand, it is a defeating error to measure something that isn't sin as sin.


Life After Ceasing From Sin

One thing that seems to be an obstacle to believing that it is possible to cease from sin in this live is not being able to perceive what life would be like once one had ceased from sin. There is certainly more. God’s plan for our lives is far more than an endless battle against sin. His plan is for us to grow and be more and more fruitful.

God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness, through our union with the One who called us to his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us valuable and superlatively great promises, so that through them you might come to share in God’s nature and escape the corruption which evil desires have brought into the world. For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities (riches) in increasing measure, they will keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:3-8)


To grow in these things and be fruitful in them is God’s plan for us, not an endless battle against swearing, lying, coveting, etc..

To this agrees Hebrews 10 where God tells us that the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus was necessary because it did something that the sacrifice of blood of bulls and goats could not do. With the sacrifices of bulls and goats there was a remembrance made of sins once a year, year after year. This is not God’s desire. God’s desire is no more remembrance of sin and the sacrifice of His Son was made to accomplish that. If we are caught in an endless battle against sin we make a continual reminder of sin. This is not God’s plan.


Be Encouraged

Finally, be encouraged. Spiritual opposition will try to make it look like it is not possible to cease from sin in this life. With our power it is not possible, but with the power of God it is possible - and with the power of God doing the work it is possible more quickly than we might imagine. Jesus’ instructions are true and effective, God’s power is exceedingly greater than we imagine, and God is very willing to step alongside to help anyone who will trust in his person and power and align their lives to go and sin no more.