In our Christian walk their moments we find ourselves struggling with sin, or let’s say drawn to sin. Despite us living under the grace of God, we should always bear in mind we are living in a broken world. We still have to battle with our carnal nature and subdue our flesh under the authority of Christ. However, no one should ever trust his flesh for as Paul would say, ‘nothing good dwells in my flesh.’ Romans 7:18-25. The presence of the sinful nature in the universe will be eradicated at our Lord’s glorious second coming. For even as the scriptures say the last enemy to be destroyed is death, and we know that the sting of death is sin. For this reason, today I will be discussing God’s providence in overcoming sin. His sovereign power and ability to help us in the battle with our sinful nature.
Well, we know that God predestined our salvation beforehand. The fact that Jesus died on the cross doesn’t guarantee we are automatically saved. God through his providence has dispensed grace through the ultimate sacrifice of his son. However, we must respond to the sacrifice by accepting Christ as our Lord in and over our lives. In other words, or simply what I am saying is that the providence of God’s grace doesn’t make us passive. It calls us to be active in that we have to be involved in the process of salvation. We all have a key role to play. Therefore, we should never misuse or misunderstand God’s providence.
The teaching of providence asserts that our God is in absolute control and sovereign over all things in the universe. If He is in control, then it means He is able to guide our steps if only we allow Him. The reason being that God can’t deprive us of Free Will. He sets the standard and therefore can’t break it, since He is one with His word.
God’s providence doesn’t exempt our responsibility and actions. That’s why it is true to say that “a man reaps what he sows”
What is the providence of God or God’s providence?
According to Don Stewart, “the providence of God refers to God making all the events of the physical and moral universe fulfill His original design.”
Personally, I believe that the providence of God or God’s providence is his sovereignty and His ability to govern the universe and control every event as He wills.
The wisest man that has ever lived, Solomon, poses a unique view of the same concept. In proverbs 20:24, “he declares that a man’s ways/ steps are directed or led of or by the LORD. How then can he (the man) or anyone understand his/ their way?” [Emphasis added]. Indeed no one can discern or understand his ways except by God. It has to be God. Solomon acknowledges that God is in absolute control of everything even the minor details of our lives and the entire universe at large. Therefore, if a man has to achieve anything, it has to be through the power of God. This answers our theme, only by God’s providence can we overcome our carnal nature.
Providence is derived from the word provide. To sustain or meet a need. A good example is that of Abraham. He had the faith that God will provide Himself a lamb for the sacrifice. The word ‘provide’ is translated in Hebrew as see or seeing. Meaning God will see to it. He is indeed the God who sees, and if He sees, He acts.
God’s providence in overcoming sin Vs our efforts.
How many times have you tried to battle sin yet you have failed? Acknowledging that we can’t overcome our sinful nature by our efforts is the key to deliverance. The first step to salvation is realizing that we need a savior. When we acknowledge God as being in control over our lives and then allow Him to help us, we overcome sin. The reason I am saying ‘allowing Him’ is because God does not impose Himself on anyone. He has given us free will to make choices and He cannot deprive us of that.
Our carnal efforts always prove to be futile. They show us how weak and flawed we are. Our efforts in battling with sin are always in vain outside God’s providence. We have to acknowledge that God alone can enable us.
I am not advocating for passive Christianity or Christian living with this concept. Paul advises us to work out our salvation. This means we have a key role in the decisions we make daily. We are also expected to daily willingly decide to do the right thing and not live a presumptuous life. For this reason, God’s providence doesn’t advocate for presumptuous and passive living. Rather, calls us to proactive Christian living, working out our salvation in reverence to God.
The work of Jesus at the cross and the providence of God is meant to fuel us to become active participants in fulfilling God’s divine Will in the universe.
It is not by works that we are saved, but by the grace of God. You may wonder whether this text contradicts that of working out our salvation. I strongly believe Paul alluded to our efforts in working our salvation within the premises of God’s grace and not just by our carnal efforts. If the supremacy of Christ is not the center of it all, then it’s futile.
David acknowledgment of God’s providence in overcoming his sinful nature.
King David in Psalms 19:12-13 acknowledged that he had no ability to discern his errors. Neither is anyone of course. Only God can, as he searches our hearts and nothing is hidden before Him [Hebrews 4:13]. David asked God to keep Him from presumptuous sins lest they dominate over him.
David understood that only by the providence of God could he overcome sin. That’s why he asked God to keep him from willful sins. He also realized he could never be blemish or innocent of transgression except by God’s providence and grace. Indeed, righteousness is by the grace of God.
This doesn’t give us the advantage to continue in sin. The scriptures are clear, that “there remains no more sacrifice for sin.” [Hebrews 10:26]. Therefore, we should never sin willfully assuming that grace is dispensed for our sake. We should never misuse the grace of God.
Again, Paul would ask “should we continue sinning so that grace may abound?” [Romans 6:1]. And the answer is absolutely a big No. As I said earlier, God’s providence doesn’t make us irresponsible and presumptuous. We are responsible for our actions and we will pay for it when the debt is due. For surely ‘the debt of sin is death.’
The Bible on God’s providence in overcoming sin.
The Bible exhorts us to die to self and let Christ reign in us in glory. [Galatians 2:20]. To acknowledge God’s providence in overcoming sin, we have to crucify our flesh and its desires if we are in Christ.
“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 ESV
This verse clearly indicates our responsibility in overcoming our sinful nature. It advocates for active Christian living. God’s providence makes us active and not passive. We are not called to be presumptuous Christians.
Responding to God’s providence in battling with sin by faith.
Faith demands action for it to be realistic and effective. However, it isn’t a matter of faith neither works but faith that works. We respond to God’s providence in overcoming our sinful nature by exerting efforts in battling with sin. These actions of faith should be stirred up by the word of God. They include denying self by simply ‘killing’ the carnal nature in us. These actions of faith can be realized through prayer and fasting. We can only realize providence by acknowledging our need for a savior. And remember we can never please God without faith. [Hebrews 11:6].
To be honest, we are of a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. [Ezekiel 3:7b]. Our carnal nature limits our ability to effectively fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord and savior. That’s where the unmerited favor of God comes in. For, we can never please Jesus in our carnal nature. God has provided a garment of salvation through Christ Jesus. Through which we can access His throne room with boldness. [Hebrews 4:16]. The blood of Jesus gives us this special access. We have to receive the accomplished work of the cross by faith, and not take it for granted. God’s providence should make us want Him more and more.
The conclusion of the matter.
The providence of God doesn’t make us presumptuous, lazy, or inactive. Rather, it makes us even work harder to please God by all means through His grace. We have the responsibility to choose to walk in righteousness. To choose to please God in our flesh like Joseph. We can only achieve this by allowing God to lead our steps daily and depending fully on His providence and grace. [Psalms 37:23-24, Proverbs 20:24]. The providence of God should not be without effect in our lives.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” I Corinthians 15:10, ESV.
The providence of God had the effect of making Paul work harder than all the other apostles. God’s providence made him active and never presumptuous of the grace of God. It’s my prayer that we follow the footsteps of Paul just as he followed Christ Jesus.
I hope this article was of great help to you in understanding God’s providence in overcoming sin? Let me hear your thoughts on the comment section below. If you have anything to add, please do so below. God bless you for choosing to read to the end.