Killing Sin

CrossI think many Christians live in a spiritual malaise, rut, funk … you pick the word, the Christian life just isn’t all they thought it would be. They prayed a prayer. They were baptized. They attend church. They read their Bible. They pray. But somehow it seems like they haven’t connected all the spiritual dots. Something is amiss.

For many, the issue is a failure to kill sin. Most of us do not roll out of bed thinking about how we can effectively kill the sins in our life. This is an unfortunate reality.

The apostle Paul called Christians to kill sin in Romans 8:13, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” There it is … Put to death the deeds of the body. Kill sin.

The great Puritan theologian John Owen put Paul’s words into a memorable quote, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” (The Mortification of Sin)

So we’re supposed to kill sin. That’s a nice, churchy phrase. But how in the world does a person go about the process of actually killing sin? There are plenty of places in the Bible that offer practical help. One of my favorite is Genesis 39. Take a minute to read through the familiar story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, then consider these four strategies for killing sin in your life.

  • Understand your sin is first and foremost an offense against God (39:9). Joseph felt loyalty to his boss and knew adultery would be a betrayal. However, Joseph’s primary concern was the fact that adultery was a sin against God. You must remember this in your fight against sin. While your sin affects many people, it is primarily an offense against God.
  • Do whatever it takes to escape temptations to sin (39:12). Joseph ended up running away without his cloak. In your attempt to kill sin, you must be willing to do whatever it takes to win. Ending relationships. Accepting accountability. Moving your family. Getting rid of technology. Selling your possessions. Whatever it takes.
  • Be willing to suffer for righteousness and obedience (39:20). Joseph ended up in prison because he refused to sleep with his bosses’ wife. Every time he refused her advances, he knew this sort of suffering was a possibility. You must be willing to suffer if you want to kill sin.
  • Remember that God is with you regardless of your circumstance (39:21, 23). Twice the author of Genesis tells us that God was with Joseph. This is something you must remember. When your battle is intense and your circumstances miserable, you must remember that God is with you in your battle against sin.

Originally published April 4, 2016 on