At our recent 20schemes Weekender, we had our women’s preconference—the theme was “Our Identity in Christ.” Each of the three sessions was followed by a testimony. I asked Katy Sawyers—one of our indigenous interns here in Niddrie—to talk about how her identity in Christ has helped her overcome slavery to sin. For Katy, as with all Christians, the battle with her old self has been real. Sharing her story in front of a group of 60 women wasn’t an easy thing for her to do. But I’m grateful that she agreed to testify to Christ’s work in her life. This is what she shared.
Katy Sawyers’ Story
As a young Christian, one of the hardest things for me to get my head around is the constant battle with sin. Maybe it’s the same for those of you who are more mature Christians, too.
The reality of the ongoing battle with indwelling sin is one of the reasons I love baptisms in our church. After he’s finished preaching, Mez always turns to the people being baptised and says to them—and also to everyone in the congregation—“You know you’re still going to sin after this, right?” It’s a helpful reminder that becoming a Christian is anything but becoming perfect. In fact, it’s the opposite: it’s an acknowledgement of just how imperfect we are, and a turning to Christ—the only perfect one—for forgiveness.
We see the sin and disobedience of man throughout the whole Bible—there is just no escaping it. We need to recognise that we will battle sin until we get to glory.
Hardest Job Ever
Before I became a Christian, I thought being a single parent was the hardest job I have ever had (especially since I had my son!). But truthfully, it’s been a walk in the park compared with being a Christian.
In Romans 7, Paul walks us through exactly what our problem really is: We have two natures as born again Christians—often referred to as ‘the old man’ and ‘the new man.’ The old man is our former, sinful nature, which we inherited from Adam. The new man is what we become in Christ—a nature characterised by loving obedience.
Before Christ, we were dead in our sin (Eph. 2:1). We lived like pigs. Just think about it: we all know how pigs live—happily in their own crap! But once Jesus comes and saves us, in His perfect timing, He frees us from the bondage of sin. We cannot sit happily in our sin any longer. We are joined in a new union with Christ, and we’re freed to walk in obedience.
Through reading a book by Stuart Olyott, This Way to Godliness: The Message of Romans 6, 7, and 8 the reality of what this means—namely, living obediently for Christ—was opened up to me in a fresh and clarifying way. Even though I had just finished an in-depth study of Romans in one of our women’s Bible studies, I’d completely missed the teaching and understanding on two natures that are at war against each other. Yet after reading Olyott’s book, I can now see the point of Romans 7. It’s so transparent.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.(Rom. 7:17–19)
When I first became a Christian, I had multiple addictions. I was chained to them. I genuinely couldn’t imagine a life without drink and drugs. I honestly thought everyone secretly took something to deal with life and that they just knew how to control it better than I did. It took years before I recognised I had a problem, and by then my life was a total train wreck. I thought that was the root of all my problems—my addictions. How wrong I was! My biggest problem then, and now, is my sinful nature. Yeah, my addictions are dead, but I still battle them in some way every day. I still need Jesus every day in that battle. I can’t do it on my own. Simply put, none of us have it in us to win the battle against sin apart from Jesus Christ.
God has been so gracious to us, giving us solid tools to be fully equipped to fight the good fight against sin. He gave us his only Son to free us from our bondage to sin. We have a new identity in Christ, which enables us to live in glad obedience to Him. Let me be clear, I’m not saying any of us is capable of being as holy as Jesus this side of heaven, but the Bible tells us we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
We can’t just sit and wait, hoping to win this fight without effort. We have to be active in our repentance—daily turning away from sin and to Jesus. The faithful Christian will do this for a lifetime. We will never be fully free from sin till we are in glory. This isn’t an excuse to sin. We can’t live however we please, because we’ve been washed clean from the blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary.
This means we live a life that is set apart—one that honours the work that Jesus accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection. In Christ, we should live a life that lights the way for other lost sheep, pointing them to the Good Shepherd. And we can do all this knowing that God will finish the work he began in us. “. . . being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6)
Without God’s Word and prayer, I am helpless in my fight against sin. It’s the only place that is 100% reliable, and He’s the only one who can equip us, making us ready for the fight each day. I know this because the Bible tells me so—“All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reroof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be equate equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16–17)
We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus took time to pray to the Father (see Matt. 26:36–56 and Luke 22:39–46). He used Scripture to fight Satan’s temptation in Matthew 4. If Jesus did these things—praying and citing Scripture—why do we so often neglect them? I know that for me personally, this is one of the last things I’ll do in the fight against sin.
Thankfully, this is where the body of Christ comes in to help, reminding us of truth and encouraging us to trust the promises of God. We need other believers, in the context of the local church, to point us to Jesus daily. We are in this battle together. We need each other’s help each along the way.
I try to remind myself daily of the armour of God (Eph. 6:10–18). It’s in the Bible for a reason, that we might apply it to our lives daily. I personally can’t live without God’s help. My flesh wins every day I forget to put it on.
See Katie’s Testimony here.
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