Augustus Toplady's hymn speaks of the "double cure". That is, cleansing from both sin's guilt & power. It is important that we grasp this wonderful truth of the gospel because we can face our "respectable" sins only when we know they are forgiven.
We need to see the cleansing from sin's power in two stages. The first is deliverance from the dominion or reigning power of sin that is decisive &complete for all believers. The second is freedom from the remaining presence & activity of sin that is progressive & continues throughout our lives on earth.
We have died not only to sin's guilt but also to its reigning power in our lives. This is accomplished at the time of our salvation when God delivers us from the domain of darkness & transfers us to the kingdom of His Son.
How can sin possibly reign if we have died to it? Paul is referring to the continued presence & ceaseless acitivty of sin that, though it is "dethroned" as the reigning power over our lives, still seeks to exert a controlling influence in our daily walk.
To walk by the Spirit is to live under the controlling influence of the Spirit & in dependence upon Him.
Practically speaking, we live under the controlling influence of the Spirit as we continually expose our minds to & seek to obey the Spirit's moral will for us as revealed in Scripture. We live in dependence on Him through prayer as we continually cry out to Him for His power to enable us to obey His will.
We are responsible before God to obey His Word, to put to death the sins in our lives, both the so-called acceptable sins & the obviously not acceptable ones. At the same time, we do not have the ability within ourselves to carry out this responsibility. We are in fact totally dependent upon the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we are both responsible & dependent.
We will never reach perfection in this life, but we will see progress--incremental progress.
All three members of the divine Trinity are involved in our spiritual transformation, but the Father & the Son work through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. When I speak of the power of the Holy Spirit, I am speaking of the power of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit that is communicated to us & worked out in us by the Holy Spirit.
We need to believe that as we seek to deal with our subtle sins, we are not alone. He is at work in us, & we will see progress as we walk by the Spirit.
One way is conviction of sin.
Another way is to enable & empower us to deal with our sin.
We can deal with our pride, our impatience, our critical & judgmental spirit as we depend on the Holy Spirit to empower & enable us. Thus, we should never give up.
Still another way in which the Holy Spirit works for our transformation is by bringing into our lives circumstances that are designed to cause us to grow spiritually. Just as our physical muscles will not grow in strength without exercise, so our spiritual life will not grow apart from circumstances that challenge us.
God does not tempt us to sin, but He does bring or allow circumstances to come into our lives that give us opportunity to put to death the particular subtle sins that are characteristic of our individual lives.
God is in control of every circumstance & every event of our lives, & He uses them, often in some mysterious way, to change us more into the likeness of Christ.
The Holy Spirit is at work in us through our circumstances to make us more like Christ.
The Holy Spirit works in us to convict us & make us aware of our subtle sins. He then works in us to enable us to put to death those sins. Then He works in us in ways of which we are not conscious. And then He uses the circumstances of our lives to exercise us in the activity of dealing with our sins.
We cannot simply lay this responsibility on God & sit back & watch Him work.
We are to pray that the Holy Spirit will enable us to see the hidden, subtle sins in our lives.
These are excerpts & highlights from "Respectable Sins" by Jerry Bridges