Every true Christian knows by experience that the Holy Spirit does not, upon saving us, take possession of us and thenceforth supernaturally cause us to live lives pleasing to God. Rather, as with salvation, so with the Christian life, He operates in the believer “by grace through faith”.
Powerful assistance to overcome sin is freely provided by grace, but this help must be appropriated by faith in each individual case. There is no blanket provision for continuous victory throughout our whole life. We must look to Him in faith for the help we need in each separate battle.
Thus the Scripture teaching with regard to victory over sin is not that it is not possible for the believer to sin, but rather that in any given case it is possible for him not to sin. Thus too, the question in times of temptation is generally whether we truly desire to overcome, for deliverance is freely provided by grace if we will but appropriate it by faith.
But just how is deliverance provided? The answer is: BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. No longer need the believer remain enslaved to sin; for the Holy Spirit within, who imparted spiritual life to begin with, will also impart strength to overcome temptation. When tried and unable even to pray as we ought, “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities” and “maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:26). When weak and ill, we may be “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph.3:16). Indeed, the Spirit even strengthens God’s people physically to overcome sin, for we read:
“But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [strengthen] your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Rom. 8:11).
And the following verse goes on to say:
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (Rom.8:12)
The thought is that, since believers have the Holy Spirit to help them overcome sin, they are debtors — and not to the flesh, but to God, to live pleasing to Him.