The above discussion centered on what God has done for us. He's given us the Holy Spirit; Christ is in us, a new nature, and the old nature is dead - thus we -CAN- be righteous. But what's our part? What do we have to do so that the potential for righteousness that God has made available for us is actually realized? Answer: We feed the spiritual man (our new nature) and starve the carnal man
to progress in self control:-
"But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to [fulfil] the lusts [thereof]." - Rom 13:14
"[This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." - Ga 5:16How do we feed the spiritual nature?
By spending time with God - studying His word, in prayer, worship, with others, reading a good book, and so on.
- "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed [thereto] according to thy word." - Ps 119:9
- "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things." - Php 4:8
Some people spend all their time thinking about what's weird, funny and strange. That's not God's way!How do we starve our flesh?
Desires are fueled and fed by fulfillment. If you give in a little to some desire, you start to feel a greater craving for it. Thus, we can starve our fleshly lusts by keeping away from any bit of fulfillment. Do you have a weakness for alcohol? Then avoid places where it's available. Do you have a weakness for luxury? Then don't keep magazines at home that are all about luxury products. Do you have a weakness for excessive shopping? Then decide what you need in advance and only then go to the store - and don't buy on impulse. Do you have a weakness for women? porn? Then don't watch movies that make you itch for the sight of more skin.
In general, every aspect of our lifestyle has to be checked: Does it take us away from God? If yes, it has to go away. If we fill ourselves with the things of God, the things of the world will be crowded out -that's the right approach. The wrong approach is to not feed your spirit nature, and then, when you feel the desire for sinful pleasure, to try and -muster- up all the self control in the world to defeat your desire. That's what some of the mystics in the middle ages used to attempt, and some of them got into mental problems. It's not possible to defeat the flesh with the flesh!!
Having said all this, there will certainly be times when you fall. What is a believer to do when he or she falls?
"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 2:1,1:9
Confessing our sins restores our fellowship with our Father. Like: If a child misbehaves, he is still a child, but he can enjoy his relationship with his father only if he confesses his wrongdoing and is reconciled.
Confessing our sins also enables us to grow in our relationship with our Father. The Lord's Supper which the Lord Jesus instituted gives us an opportunity to check our hearts. Before taking part in it, we should make sure that any sin is confessed. It is a serious thing to take part unworthily in the Lord's Supper (1 Co 11:28-30) - of course, this does not mean that you -have- to wait a week before you confess your sin!!
Condemnation is a tool that Satan uses to keep Christians lying low. Never let him use it on you!!
"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? [It is] God that justifieth. Who [is] he that condemneth? [It is] Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." - Rom 8: 33,34,1