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How can I overcome sin?

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As explained in another Bible FAQ , sin is defined by the Bible as breaking God’s law. But how can you overcome sin and live by God’s way?

First you have to come to realize that you broke God’s law and sinned. This isn’t just about acknowledging that you did the wrong thing against God’s will. Read what John the apostle wrote in one of his letters to a church congregation: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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). Realizing our own sin involves admitting our faults to ourselves and confessing our sins in prayer to God.

After confessing the sin, sincerely ask God to forgive you. Peter wrote that God wants all people to “come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). So have confidence in approaching God and asking him for forgiveness (Hebrews 4:16 Hebrews 4:16Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
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The next step is very important. Ask God to help you not commit that sin anymore. When we repent of sin it means that we change our minds —our way of thinking. This leads to a change in the way we act.

What do you do once you’ve recognized your sin, confessed it to God and are working on repenting of your sins? Peter’s sermon at the first New Testament Pentecost explained the next step in the process of overcoming sin: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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, emphasis added).

For someone trying to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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), baptism is the next step in living a new life of repentance and overcoming sin. Scripture shows the need for the indwelling of Christ’s life to fully live a righteous life. To learn more please read our free online booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.

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  • Frederik
    If one knows the sins then he can repent and can be forgiven, he can choose to avoid from committing a particular sin or sins again. However, if he does not know what to avoid, if he does not know he is violating a particular commandment of God, then he can sin again and again without knowing that he is sinning. Can he be forgiven on the basis of ignorance? No. There is no such thing as exemption due to ignorance! If one violates a commandment, he becomes dirty in the eyes of the Lord and he goes to Hell when he dies. Therefore, the first step to repentance and subsequent avoidance is knowing what the sins are. There is a checklist of sins available at **Links removed to comply with comment policy** The following are examples from the list: JOHN 3:16 - Believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior. MATTHEW 22:37-40 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love others as yourself. DEUTERONOMY 5:6-21 - Have no other gods but the true living God. Have no idols, do not kneel before them or worship them. Do not take the name of God in vain. Take care to keep holy the sabbath day. Honor your father and your mother. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false testimony. Do not desire another’s wife or anything that is his. AMOS 5:12; MATTHEW 26:14-15 - Do not give or take bribes. 2 CORINTHIANS 4:2 - Be honest. EPHESIANS 4:26 - If you get angry do not sin, and do not let your anger last until the end of the day. MATTHEW 5 - Be humble. Be meek. Be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Be merciful. Have a clean heart. Be a peacemaker. Do not be angry without a cause. Do not insult others. Do not say “Fool!” to others. Be reconciled with your adversary quickly. Do not look at a woman with lustful intent. Do not separate your wife except for marital unfaithfulness. Do not marry a woman who was separated. Do not swear by the heavens, earth, Jerusalem nor by your head. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Do not oppose evil with evil. Give to anyone who asks. Do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow. Love your enemies and pray for their enlightenment. MATTHEW 6 - Give alms unnoticeably. Pray in secret. Forgive those who sinned against you, If you do not forgive others, then God will not forgive you. The 10 Commandments are not all.
  • Ivan Veller
    Hello Frederik, “[W]hile we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…we shall be saved” (Romans 5:8-9 Romans 5:8-9 8 But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
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    KJV). As we each deeply understand, Christ – our High Priest – “can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray” (Hebrews 5:2 Hebrews 5:2Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
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    a NKJV; see Hebrews 4:15 Hebrews 4:15For 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.
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    ) in accordance with divine law: “So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him” (Leviticus 5:18 Leviticus 5:18And he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your estimation, for a trespass offering, to the priest: and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his ignorance wherein he erred and knew it not, and it shall be forgiven him.
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    b). Again: “the priest is to make atonement for the entire community…and they will be forgiven for inadvertent sins…Then the entire community…will be forgiven…since all the people will have sinned inadvertently” (Numbers 15:25-26 Numbers 15:25-26 25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance: 26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojournes among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance.
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    ISV). “LORD, if you punished people for all their sins, no one would be left alive. But you forgive” (Psalms 130:3-4 Psalms 130:3-4 3 If you, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
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    a, ERV 2008) and will provide “atonement for any person…who sins through ignorance” (Ezk. 45:20 ESV). “For if we sin willfully after” – after – “we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26 Hebrews 10:26For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
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    NKJV). “[A] partial hardening has come upon Israel, until…all Israel will be saved…that he may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:25-32 Romans 11:25-32 25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as you in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy on all.
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    , ESV 2011). “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34a KJV). Likewise, Stephen “knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin!’ (Ac. 7:60a, HCSB 2009). Paul (present then) wrote, “In the past I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. But I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in my unbelief… I received mercy, so that in me, as the worst sinner…Jesus might demonstrate all of his patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:13-16 1 Timothy 1:13-16 13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
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    , ISV 2010). ‘In ‘times of ignorance,’ …people haven’t yet had an opportunity to know the truth and repent and change” (UCG, “The Second Resurrection: Humanity’s Opportunity for Salvation!” bible study guide, Lesson 15). “His plan includes time for all of humanity to learn critical lessons from personal choices” (Foster 2007, “God’s Plan to End Evil and Suffering”). “Surely a loving Father would not doom most people to the fiery hell preached by most churches. In fact, He does not doom ignorant people to hell. He has a plan that provides all with ample opportunity to choose to live forever” (McCullough 1997, “Is Everyone Being Judged Now?”).
  • Tholp1
    We are in this shell called earth because God feels we need to learn powerful lessons before we get out there in his world. God is not going to let the ideals of this world stirred by Satan the devil, come into his realm. That’s why Satan has been thrown out. He is the master of sin. I totally respect what the Father has done. Think of it. If we lived in the Father’s house with the ideals of this world, we would suffer forever. He does not want us to suffer here on earth(but we do), and out in his world either. I am glad of his plan of salvation because it works far greater than any human(Satan inspired)plan.

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