Though we have instruction in the means of mortification, though we have desire to follow after our Lord in a life of practical holiness, we often find our practice lies below our desire. Knowing this weakness, Christopher Love provides three consolations to the Christian:
Take this for your comfort: though use the utmost endeavors to mortify sin, yet you cannot withstand the existence of sin in you, but only hinder its reigning in your heart.
In Romans 6, Paul does state
Do not let sin reign in your mortal body to obey its lusts (Rom. 6:12, NASB).
In verse 22, he continues, “But now having been freed from sin”. However, Paul nowhere states that we will be free from sin’s presence. Indeed, entire structure of the argument presumes the continued presence of sin, “do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness”. We could not present our body to sin, if sin were not present. Do not despair over the present conflict:
It is therefore no sign of a good condition to find all quiet, with no opposition; for can we think that corruption, which is the older element in us, and Satan, the strong man who has many holds over us, will yield possession quietly? No, there is not so much as a thought of goodness discovered by him, but he joins with corruption to kill it in the birth. And as Pharaoh’s cruelty was especially against the male children, so Satan’s malice is especially against the most religious and manly resolutions.
This, then, we are always to expect, that wherever Christ comes there will be opposition. When Christ was born, all Jerusalem was troubled; so when Christ is born in any man, the soul is in an uproar, and all because the heart is unwilling to yield up itself to Christ to rule it.
Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed.
If we wrongly believe that we will become utterly freed from sin, we will fall into discouragement and hopelessness. Such discouragement can only breed more sin. Hope of our glory with Christ is a great means of holiness now:
1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1–3 (ESV)
Do not despair over the return of rather. But rather use the means given by God, seek to walk in the Spirit, and sleep and wake before the throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16; Psalm 3).