It is rumored that during the Viet Nam war in the 60’s, soldiers were given this little piece of advice before being shipped out to the jungle: “Terminate with extreme prejudice.” And what that meant was: aggressive execution of the enemy.
But what you may not know is that similar advice is given to us as Christians. You see, we are also called to terminate with extreme prejudice. Only for us, the enemy is not people—it is the sin that lurks in our own hearts. If you belong to Christ you are commanded to live a life filled with violence—holy violence against sin.
And so the question is: how do you exactly terminate sin with extreme prejudice? How do you slaughter sin with holy violence? What do you do when you are being tempted to sin? That’s the question!
And to answer that I’m going to give you a practical strategy for how to put sin and temptation to death. And right now I want you to think about the predominant struggle in your life so that the next time you are tempted to give in to that sin, you can use this method to put it to death.
And this method comes in the form of an acronym, using the word “AROUND”—a-r-o-u-n-d. And it works like this: the next time you’re tempted with lust, pornography, anger, fear of man, laziness, selfishness, bitterness, self-pity, anxiety—whatever it is, you need to first:
Admit that on your own you are absolutely helpless to put that sin to death. That if left up to you and your own power you would have already been in hell. You just stop right there and tell God that on your own you are simply incapable of obeying what He calls you to do. And do you know what you’re doing, by the way, when you cry out to God like this?
You are worshipping! In that moment you are putting God on display as the all-sufficient giver of grace and putting yourself in your place as the needy beneficiary of that grace. You must, first, “A”, admit that you are helpless.
R = Remember.
Remember your position in Christ—that He purchased and paid for with His death all of the blood-bought resources you need to execute that sin. Remember that in Christ you have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3)! In Christ you have all things for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:4), which means you don’t have to give to that sin, and you must not either. You must “R”, remember.
You must OUT-pleasure the pleasure of sin by being supremely satisfied in the Triune God as your treasure. You must, in that moment, cling to the reality that sin tries to convince you that it can do only what God can do, namely satisfy the deepest longings of your soul.
That’s how sin gets you to give in to it—that’s what makes sin seem enticing, namely the promise of pleasure! No one ever sins out of obligation! No one ever sins out of duty! No one ever sins because they feel like they have to! No, we sin because sin promises pleasure.
And so, how you put that sin to death is by finding something more thrilling, more beautiful, more enticing and more satisfying than even the most delectable pleasures the internet can provide, namely, God Himself. IN that moment, you must ponder texts like Psalm 16:11; 37:4; 63:1-8; 107:9. And WHAT will begin to happen as mediate on verses like these is that the fleeting pleasures of sin will exposed to be for what they are: worthless!
You must utilize the weapon of the Word. War without a weapon means you die. Temptation without Scripture means you lose and give in. That is theological science! That is a fact! So you must memorize particular verses that combat that particular struggle that stares you in the face every day! You must go to war and utilize the weapon of the Word.
You must neutralize further temptation with desperate, needy, urgent prayer. Any significant temptation will last anywhere from 2-10 minutes. And just saying “NO” isn’t good enough! That is lazy and proud. To put sin to death you must be continually on the intercom of prayer pleading with your divine General for additional reinforcements to win the war. You must neutralize with prayer.
D= Do what you must.
In other words, do whatever it takes. Take whatever measures are necessary to not give in. This is what Jesus meant when He said to rip out an eye and cut off a hand (cf. Matthew 5:27-30). This is what Paul meant when he said to “put to death the deeds of the body” (cf. Romans 8:13; see Colossians 3:5). The point is: do whatever it takes to not sin!
You see, this is your action point in the process. This is the actual act of obedience that you are being called to take. And in the moment, it will feel like you doing it. In other words, it will feel like it’s in your own strength. But you’ve already admitted that you can’t! You’ve already trusted Christ to have already provided what you need. You’ve already held to a promise in the Scriptures. You’ve already plead with God for help in prayer.
And so it is not legalism or incompatible with grace to do whatever it takes to no sin. No. Radical obedience is the evidence of grace. That is the mystery of sanctification.
And that is a strategy for how to deal with temptation in the moment—“AROUND”. So the next time the sin with which you struggle is staring you in the face, begin walking through each of these steps and you’ll soon find that you are living the Christian life not as a victim, but as a soldier—a soldier of the King.