Elswick Church

Can I Avoid Sin?


BUT I say, walk by the Spirit

and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5.16

How do I avoid sin?  Sin is what we are inclined to do.  Can I stop?  The words of Paul above point to the answer.  They set before us a rule for us to keep each day.  We are to “walk by the Spirit.”  What does that mean?  To answer that question we should seek to grasp:

(1) the source of sin – it is the desires, the lusts, of our flesh;

(2) the source of life – it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to truly live;

(3) the negative part of our duty – we are not to gratify our desires; and

(4) the positive part of our duty – we are to walk by or in the Spirit.

(1) The source of sin.

What is sin?  John says it is lawlessness (1 John 3.4).  Why do we defy God and ignore his will?  It is because, by nature, our minds are set on the flesh (Romans 8.7).  We neither desire God nor his will.  We are hostile toward him.  We do not and cannot submit to God’s law.  We cannot please God (Romans 8.8).  Does that mean there is no hope for us?  No, it does not.  God freely offers us life – life in all its fulness.

(2) The source of life

What is the source – more correctly – who is the source of true life?  Paul says it is God the Holy Spirit.  Without his power, as James the brother of our Lord writes, the desires we conceive usually give birth to sin.  We commit sins.  Sinning leads to death (James 1.15).  Those who know God are given his “life-giving Spirit” (1 Corinthians 15.45).  How does he give life?  By setting us free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8.2).  Through faith in Jesus, the second Adam, we have life.  He gives us life.  Without him we never conquer sin (John15.5).

(3) The negative part of our duty

We are not to gratify our desires.  We are not to let sinful desires bear fruit.  They are to be put to death so that they do result in a sin (Colosssians 3.1).

(4) The positive part of our duty

We are to walk in the Spirit.  We are to follow the track the Spirit sets before us.  The track to which he guides us.  The track of right living and truth along which he empowers believers to walk.


What lessons do we do well to note with care?

(1) We need the Spirit of God.

Without him we cannot please God.  But how can we know him living within us?  Through repentance and faith.  God’s promise is that he will give his Spirit to all who repent and believe (Acts 2.38).

(2) Life in the Spirit entails obedience.

Those who love Jesus keep his commands (John 14.15).  Where do we find his commands?  In the Bible.  It is the written Word of God.  Each and every book of the Bible is a gift from God.  Each was written for our learning.  Each was breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3.16).  The authors spoke from God as they were carried along by the Spirit (2 Peter 1.21).  Our duty is to know, love and do God’s Word.

(3) The benefits of being led by the Spirit are great.

Thos who are led by the Spirit are filled with love, joy and peace (John15 11; Romans 15.13; Galatians 5.22).  Those who walking by the Spirit do not gratify the desires of their flesh.


What should you seek to do?

(1) Seek to know and do God’s will (Job 22.21; Colossians 3.1; Philippians 3.20).

(2) Seek to know what is good and pleasing to God (Philippians 4.8-9).

(3) Seek to know and understand yourself (Hebrews 12.1).

(4) Seek to keep a close watch on your heart (Proverbs 4.23). 

(5) Seek to have a tender conscience (Hebrews 10.22).

(5) Seek to hold fast your confession of faith (Hebrews 10.23).

(6) Seek to encourage other believers (Hebrews 10.24).

(7) Seek to put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6.11-20).

(8) Seek to know and use the Scriptures like the Saviour (Matthew 4.1-11).

(9) Seek to avoid sin (Psalm 119.37; Proverbs 4.14-15).

(10) Seek to remember that the Lord is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4.24).


What are we to remember?

(1) The desires of the flesh wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2.11).

(2) The more you sin the more you will sin (James 1.15).

(3) The one who rules his heart is better than the mighty and the one who takes a city (Proverbs 16.32).

(4) Those who grow in the grace of God will be enabled to keep on growing in grace.

(5) The Lord searches the heart (Jeremiah 17.10 and Hebrews 4.13).  We are answerable to him on the day of judgment (Hebrews 9.27)


George Curry

20 October 2019

© 2023 EPC

Design by LITC