by Bill Gillham
We teach that the believer battles against an inner power which the Bible calls "sin." In Romans 7:23 Paul writes, "But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." Notice this power or law of sin is not in the believer's mind where his thoughts are generated, but in his body. It is very much like a foreign agent which indwells his body, but not his soul or spirit. Your mind is at war against this power. "But, I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve... your mind should be led astray" (2 Cor. 11:3).
When you have a war going on at least two sides must be represented. The power of sin obviously sides with Satan, and your mind fights against this power; therefore, whose side is your mind on? God's! It has to be, else there would be no war inside you. You "have the law of God written on your mind" (Heb. 10:16). You have a "sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7 KJV).
However, most Christians have been taught that our war within is a civil war, that you fight against yourself. They interpret every verse which speaks of our inner struggle as if an "evil" side of the believer fights against his "good" side.
Webster's definition of the word PERSONIFY is "to represent as a person." In GMI's teaching, we identify the power of sin in the believer by personifying it. We teach that sin has an intellect and two ingenious techniques by which it "wars against" the Christian's mind. One, it presents thoughts to the believer's mind using first person singular pronouns (I, me, my, myself, etc.). Second, it uses the flesh patterns in the believer's brain as a channel through which to present thoughts to his mind. Are we correctly interpreting the Word? Let's see.
By studying Phil. 3:4-8 one can discern that the Bible calls the old ways you and I have learned through walking in the world "flesh." Psychology would term these "memory traces in the brain." By limiting its communications with the believer's mind to these flesh patterns and employing only first person singular pronouns, the power of sin can present thoughts which are not only familiar, but seem as though they are being generated by one's own mind. Once the believer "sets his mind" on them and accepts them they become his thoughts and he is deceived into "doing the very thing he does not wish" (Rom. 7:15).
A man who had his Ph.D. from a well-know seminary said to me, "Bill, in your teaching you are personifying sin by stating that the believer has a foreign power in his body which gives thoughts to him seeking to influence him to do evil. To my knowledge this has never been taught by the church." He wasn't hostile, just making an observation. I pointed out it had been taught to the church...by Paul, who, via the Holy Spirit, was the doctrine's principal penman. But, somewhere along the line we have ceased to teach it, and the result has been defeated, impotent believers, a far cry from the first century church.
A tool which every Christian layman should have is An Expository Dictionary of New Testament by W.E. Vine. Vine explains that the Greek word HAMARTIA (which translates to the English "sin") is a noun while HAMARTANO (also translated "sin") is a verb. In Romans 6:14 where Paul writes, "Sin shall not be master over you," "sin" is a noun; while in verse 15, "Shall we sin...?" it is a verb in Romans chapters 5-8 the word sin appears 41 times, once as a verb, forty times as a noun. Why is this important? Because if one interprets the word "sin" in Romans 5 through 8 as a verb he will never understand these chapters which are so vital to walking in victory.
Through hearing hundreds of sermons and thousands of conversations in which sin was used as a verb, you and I have come to perceive the word "sin" only as an action word. Thus, when we read it in our Bibles we commonly perceive it as a verb.
It is critical that we understand this. In Rom. 5:21; 6:12, 14, 17; 7:11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 25; 8:2; 1 Cor. 15:56; Heb. 3:13; 11:25; 12:4; Jas. 1:15b Vine states of the noun HAMARTIA, "THIS GOVERNING PRINCIPLE IS PERSONIFIED." How can sin be personified, be "represented as a person?" It generates thoughts and presents them to your mind for your consideration as if they were your own thoughts! Incorrectly interpreting "sin" as a verb in these sixteen verses would have a similar effect on a Christian's life as the student who never learned his locker combination. Instead of growing to maturity he spins his wheel.
Sin personifies your extinct "old man" who was crucified in Christ. Sin feeds thoughts to your mind as if it were the old man generating the ideas (Rom. 7:20). You'll think you are experiencing a monologue when in fact it's a dialogue (parallel Rom. 7:15, 17, 20). That is the way sin has deceived many Christians into teaching that the old man is still alive. They cite isolated verses in attempting to explain their experience. This is called "proof texting" and is not legimate biblical interpretation. No one can accurately interpret Romans 5-8 verse by verse and prove the old man still lives. It states that he died in Romans 6:2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 13, et.al. One life has resurrection power, Christ. Since the old man cannot resurrect himself we must search the Word to see what God identifies as our opponent within. Romans 5-8 says it is a power called "sin" (the noun).
As new men, we must be discerning about which thoughts originate in our minds and which ones are from this power, sin. In 2 Cor. 10:5 Paul writes, "...we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ."
We have three sources of thought: our sound mind, the Holy Spirit and the power of sin. The thoughts from the Holy Spirit and our sound mind are godly. 1 John 3:9 says the new man cannot sin. This means the new man's mind cannot generate sinful thought, but it can surely receive sinful thought from the power of sin and put it into action. To prevent this we must "take [sin's] thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ" and act like we are dead to them (Rom. 6:11-12) but "alive to God" (Rom. 6:13). By employing this battle tactic "sin [the noun] shall not be master over you" (Rom. 6:14) deceiving you to sin (verb).
Where can this power reside if I am indeed a new man? It lives within your body. The reason it can live there is because your body is not yet saved. It's dying, but will be saved at the rapture (Rom. 8:23b). Your body is not evil, just condemned because it's earthly. Even though it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, it can never enter into the presence of God until it's changed.
This power is an agent of Satan. Sin (the noun) entered the world at the fall when Adam sinned (verb) (Rom. 5:12). Your body inherited it through your dad's body and originally from Adam's body. (This is one reason why it is imperative to understand that Jesus had no earthly dad. Sin didn't indwell him. It can personify itself. It has intelligence. It obeys its master, Satan. It can put thoughts into your mind. It seeks control.
We are the only Bible some folks ever read, so when we allow the power of sin to control our behavior it damages Jesus' credibility. The higher profile Christian who publicly falls, the greater the smear of Jesus' credibility. PLAYBOY prints the lurid details and sin suggests to many Christians that they should read the article and see the photos so they can "be informed." If the world sees us carrying out sin's suggestion, we add to the smearing of Jesus' good Name. Then they have more "proof" Christianity is a farce.
The power of sin strives to lead us into sinning so people will see little in us that will give Jesus credibility. More and more Christians are tubing it as God allows Satan to increase the pressure in these last dark days; but, along with this He is revealing more of Himself to those who hunger for Him. I grieve for the men and women who have "yielded their members to the sin [the noun]" (Rom. 6:13) to blight Jesus' integrity before men. We do not condemn them, only what they have done. By dwelling on sin's thoughts, they "did the very thing they did not wish" (Rom. 7:15) to satisfy the flesh. There, but for the grace of God, go I; but by that grace I do not have to give in to the power of sin's urgings. "For sin [the noun] shall not be master over you" (Rom. 6:14). "He who has died is freed from sin [the noun]" (Rom. 6:7). "So consider yourselves to be dead to sin [the noun], but alive to God" (Rom. 6:11). It is only in following the imperative of these verses that we can realize consistent victory over sinning (the verb).
Sin (the noun) cannot master you (Rom. 6:14). It cannot make you sin. Jesus said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand" (Lk. 11:17). You are not divided against yourself! God has not set you up to guarantee failure! You have one Master (Jesus). Ignore sin's thoughts which seek to control you and by Christ's life, walk in victory. You are dead to sin (the noun) so act like it. Let Christ express His life through you.
This article is used by permission from Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, 4100 International Plaza, Suite 520, Fort Worth, Texas 76109
Call 1-888-395-LIFE for a free printed product catalog or more information.
Their website address is http://www.lifetime.org