According to Scripture, it is natural for believers to grow out of sin, and increase in righteousness. However, this requires effort on the believer’s part. There are many aspects to this effort, but there are some that seem to be the most significant. Among them are a habitual glorying in the gospel, a devotion to prayer, a devotion to living by the Bible, and devotion to living life with a local church.
Glorying in the gospel must be one of the most important elements to growing out of sin, and increasing in righteousness, because the gospel is God’s power for the salvation of all who trust in it. By glorying in the gospel, we mean rejoicing in and remembering the gospel in a habitual fashion. By the gospel, we mean the good news for the believer that the Father sent His Son to earth to become a man without ceasing to be God, to die for the believer and his sins, and to be bodily raised from the dead. This message is one of the best motivations for the believer to cease from sin, and to live more righteously. When a believer thinks that God punished His Son because of his sins, the believer should see the vileness and damnable nature of sin. This should motivate the believer to repent of his sins, and to make more efforts to be as righteous as is possible.
Second, a devotion to prayer aids in growing out of sin and increasing in righteousness. The Bible commands us to pray without ceasing, and warns us that we may not have things because we do not ask God for them. Therefore, if we are to decrease our sinfulness, and increase our righteous, we must obey God’s command to pray without ceasing. Obviously, this command does not refer to the impossible act of praying at every moment, but of being devoted to, and persistent in, prayer. Furthermore, turning away from sin and toward righteousness requires the power of the Spirit, and His power will not be increased in us unless we have a living relationship with Him, in which we are praying to Him or through Him.
Third, the believer must have a devotion to living by the Bible if he is to grow in righteousness, and become less sinful. By a devotion to living by the Bible, we mean a commitment to conforming one’s entire being to the prescriptive will of God that is revealed in the entire Bible. This requires one to see himself as dependent upon the Bible for his spiritual nourishment. The believer should daily read or listen to more of the Bible with the goal of understanding what its objective meaning is, and then applying it to his life in a correct manner. If the believer has a struggle with a particular sin, then he can learn what the Bible says about that sin, and apply that knowledge to his battle. However, the focus in this should be on learning what to do instead of the sin.
Lastly, it is essential for the believer that he live life with a local church if he is to decrease in unrighteousness, and grow in righteousness. If he is a true believer, then he will have a supernatural familial love for other believers. However, this should not stop at being friends with other believers. Rather, he should be the member of a true local church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, he should seek to live his life in fellowship with the members of that church. This requires him to strive to meet with the members of that church on at least a weekly basis, and to seek to serve other believers on a daily basis. When the believer lives in fellowship with a local church, he will be taught to obey the commands of the Lord by example as well as the teaching of the Bible. This will aid in his growth in righteousness, as he will see in real life what righteousness looks like, and may see in real life how believers fall into sin, how they can be restored to fellowship, and how they can cause horrible damage to themselves and to others through their sin. Therefore, the believer will be in a position to learn how to be righteous, as well as how to avoid temptation.
If the believer habitually remembers the gospel, devotes himself to prayer, devotes himself to practicing the Bible’s teachings, and devotes himself to living in fellowship with a local church, then he has all of the resources that he needs to grow in righteousness, and become less sinful. Remembering the gospel will motivate him to increase in righteousness, devoting himself to prayer will give him more power in that growth, devoting himself to the practice of biblical teaching will renew his mind, and devoting himself to life with the local church will expose him to the sanctifying influence of other believers. These things all come together to form a way of life in which the Spirit is sanctifying the believer with His Word.
This was primarily intended to be read by believers in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you understand the gospel? The Apostle Paul explained it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.” – Romans 1:18-32
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13