Read: Romans 6
As Christians, we know that the purpose of our lives is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.1 But when we consistently struggle with sin, we may begin to feel desperate, seeking to try and find hope or respite in anything. So, when we hear the words “Let go and let God,” we want to jump to hold onto this idea. But what if I told you that instead of breathing a sigh of relief when we hear those words, we should have warning bells going off in our minds?
The Truth of Romans 6
At first, this phrase seemed harmless to me. “Let go of the things I’m struggling with, the temptations that constantly vex me, and let God take care of it.” Unfortunately, when I had this mindset, I constantly fell back into sin, and pleaded to the Lord to change my heart. Paul says in Romans 6:15, “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” So, why would God let me continue to fall into sin? God hates sin; that’s true, and he provides the power for us to overcome it through his Holy Spirit. But we must also be disciplined and put the effort in as well. We see in Romans 6:12-14 that God is not merely content with saving us from our sin. He wants to sanctify us—to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). It says:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
In these verses, we see phrases that show that we have a part to play in our sanctification—“Let not sin therefore reign…,” “Do not present…,” “present yourselves…” If this is true, how do we learn what it means to present ourselves to Christ and hold on to the truth that we are no longer bound by sin?
Rooted and Established
Looking later to Romans 12:2, Paul tells us that we are not to “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God…” This renewal we see here is the word ἀνακαίνωσις (anakainosis) in Greek, which means “the consequent renewal or renovation in which man as well as God takes part.”2 How, then, are we “transformed by the renewal of our minds,” or, in other words, sanctified?
In order to renew our minds, we need to heed the advice of the young man in Psalm 119:9,11, which says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word…I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
We have to go down deep to the roots of what is causing us to sin and dig it up, replacing it with the truth of the Word of God. We must be rooted and established in Christ and in his Word if we want to see constant growth in our lives even when we don’t feel like it.
Do it Anyway
Spending consistent time with the Lord can be difficult and requires diligence. We can feel discouraged when we fall out of our normal routines, but I believe that it’s not about when or how you read your Bible that matters, but rather that we just do it. My aunt used to tell me all the time, “Do it anyway.” Even when you don’t feel like reading your Bible, even when you feel unworthy to come before the Lord in prayer, do it anyway. In our sinful nature, we may not want to read our Bibles and spend time with the Lord, but it is only in coming to the Lord that we will be enabled to overcome sin and have our minds renewed to long for the Word of God.
If you need a method of reading, you could simply start at the beginning of the Bible and just read. You don’t have to do deep studying every single time. If you are new to reading your Bible, beginning in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) might be helpful for you. If you think more poetically, the Psalms or Proverbs might be a good place to start. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, none of us would be able to understand Scripture, so when we approach it we must come humbly and expectantly. Before you begin, you could pray that your heart would be softened and ask that the Word of God would work in you to understand more of who God is.
Press On, Let God
By coming to the Word of God, studying it, and memorizing it, we will begin to see the work that God has done—and is doing—in our lives, as well as our responsibility to press on. In regards to sanctification, Paul says in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (emphasis added).
Author Ryan Kelly says in his 12-week study on Philippians, “The Christian life is neither one of perfection nor of passivity, but a progressive pursuit of Christ and his likeness as we await his return and the consummation of all things.”3 The race we are running will not be finished until the Lord brings us home or he returns, but that doesn’t mean that we just let the days pass us by without putting in consistent effort to look more like our Heavenly Father each day we are still on this earth. We must press on towards the goal. Why? Because Christ has saved us to a higher calling. He has brought us out of the domain of darkness and brought us into his kingdom.
By holding onto the phrase “Let go and let God,” we are minimizing the power of the cross and the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives to help us to grow and to be sanctified. I echo the words of Chris Tomlin in his song “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone),”
“My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
We have been set free. Now we must live, like Paul says in Colossians 1:10, “…in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” So instead of “Let go and let God,” we can more accurately say, “Press on and let God,” for God works in our working, and gives us grace in time of need.
Reflection & Application
- What are some sins you may be holding on to that you need to confess to the Lord? What are some practical ways you can choose to “present yourself as an instrument of righteousness” in this area instead?
- What do you think it means to be rooted in God’s Word and in his Character? How does this connect to sanctification? Look at the following verses to help answer these questions:
- Colossians 2:6-7
- 2 Peter 1:3-11
- Titus 3:3-7
- Jeremiah 17:7-8
- Psalm 119
- If you struggle to meet God in his Word, what could be some things that are keeping you from it? Can you get rid of any of those things in order to spend time in God’s Word?
- How does knowing that you are set free from slavery to sin change the way that you live?
1 The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever.”
2 George Abbot-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922), 30.
3 Ryan Kelly, Philippians: A 12-Week Study (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2014), 67.
Photo credit: Michael Marcagi
Elizabeth is recently married and is from Cleveland, Ohio. She is currently working to be certified in biblical counseling, and works in youth ministry at her church. She has been a blogger since 2017 and runs an Instagram page called Binding the Word, where she seeks to encourage women to store up God’s Word in their hearts, to understand more of who he is, and to exemplify Christ in their daily lives.