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I grew up in a church where I heard a lot about repentance. But the repentance I heard taught was basically, "Cry and rededicate."

The idea was, when you sinned, you were supposed to tell God how sorry you were, then rededicate your life to Him. Of course, if you sinned again, and you did, you were to tell Him how much more sorry you were about it, then rededicate your life yet another time.

Consequently, repentance was one big, never-ending cycle that offered no real sense of victory over sin, just a lot of condemnation. The Church was full of defeated believers who were constantly on their knees, bawling and squalling to God, doing all they knew to do to relieve themselves of shame. Meanwhile, the real problem - the sin in their lives - went untouched.

It was like trying to "cure" a headache with an aspirin. Aspirin doesn't cure a headache. It doesn't even make the pain go away. All it does is keep us from feeling the pain. It doesn't get to the root of our pain.

All these guilt-ridden Christians were dealing with symptoms and never really getting to the root of their pain. They were acting according to their feelings, not according to faith.

We see in 1 John 1:9 that "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That means receiving our forgiveness is an act of faith. We cannot receive forgiveness based on our feelings, any more than we can walk in healing, or divine health, or financial prosperity, or anything else that comes from God, based on our feelings.

Everything we receive from God comes to us by faith. Our faith is the spiritual catalyst that draws the things of God out of heaven and into the earth.

So when we go to God and repent, we must take both our cleansing from sin and our righteousness that is of God by faith. When you and I repent by faith, we're not just dealing with the symptoms of sin, we're dealing with the problem. We are stopping the actual effect of the sin. But that's not all we're doing.

Because we live in a physical, touching-smelling-hearing-seeing world, we will always have some degree of challenge with our flesh. Our flesh has no nature of its own, therefore it simply responds to whatever it encounters in the natural realm.

And since we live in an evil world and are exposed to a lot of wickedness, far more than our own natural effort and ability is necessary to overcome the temptations of the flesh. Again, this is where faith comes in.

Yes, you and I live in a sin-filled environment, but we do not have to fight and resist committing the same sins over and over. If we learn to repent by faith, we can change our flesh, and that's what we're after. We want to recondition our natural flesh to the point where it doesn't want to sin anymore.

We read in Romans 6:6-8,10-13:

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.... For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God...and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

It's sobering to realize that Paul was not writing to sinners. He was writing to born-again, Spirit-baptized, tongue-talking, healing-believing Christians. They were a tough bunch, too. They would gather for church meetings even though they knew they could be killed for it.

Still, here's Paul telling them, "Don't let sin reign in your mortal bodies!" Why was overcoming fleshly desires such a challenge for these believers? Well, we read in Romans chapter seven how Paul himself admitted that there was a "law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing my spirit into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (v. 23).

The word "law" should be a clue that we're dealing with something serious. We're not going to overcome the law of sin and death with our mortal flesh simply because we know we should, or because we feel guilty and condemned, or because we are so ashamed and unworthy. That's like going back to the aspirin.

No, it takes something more powerful than our natural flesh to override a law that has been in effect for nearly six thousand years, dominating man's natural being. It takes faith to change our flesh.

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, or the law of faith, is always present. It's just as present as the law of sin and death. The difference is, the law of faith always has authority over the law of sin and death.

So we're not dealing with a hit-and-miss situation here. We're dealing with something that works every time, whether we feel like it's working or not, whether we feel guilty and condemned or not.

Doesn't it make sense that Satan's means of keeping us off the law of faith is to keep flooding our minds with thoughts of guilt and condemnation? Sure it does. The more he can keep us on a guilt trip - going around in circles, never really headed anywhere - the more he can keep us off the road to God's righteousness.

Certainly, the devil wants us thinking, "Oh, I'm just so unworthy...I guess I'll always be a lowdown, no-good person." Well, if that were true, then Jesus' death on the cross was not a sacrifice - it was murder.

Romans 8:3-4 says, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."

So we don't walk after the flesh. We walk after the Spirit, that is, we walk after the Word. And if we allow the Word of God to be our guide, to be final authority in our lives, dictating how we feel, what we think, what we do, then we will walk in the spirit.

Notice that Galatians 5:16 says, "Walk in the spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." It doesn't say, "Do not walk in the lust of the flesh and you will walk in the spirit."

As we walk in the Spirit - as we walk in the Word - we will not fulfill the pressure that our flesh and its natural environment is trying to put on us. We will walk flesh-free, sin-free, guilt-free.

Remember, acknowledging sin and its wages, repenting and receiving the righteousness of God, controlling and changing the flesh - it all leads to a guilt-free life. But it also requires faith.

Excerpt permission granted by
Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc.
aka:  Kenneth Copeland Ministries

Author Biography

Kenneth Copeland
Web site: Kenneth Copeland Ministries
For the last 50 years Kenneth and Gloria Copeland have been passionately teaching Christians all over the world how to apply the principles of faith found in God’s WORD to their lives.

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