Habitual sins are problems for almost everyone. Perhaps even you! Maybe you are struggling with habitual sin and feel helpless and hopeless.
In this and the next blog, you will understand and discover how you can defeat any habitual sin in your life!
Does that sound too good to be true?
It would be if you had to do it on your own. But you don't... Why?
Because as a Christian, you have reliable resources that can help you overcome all habitual sins. They are:
- God's word
- The Holy Spirit indwelling you
- Fellow Christians
In this and the next blog, we will address three main topics in overcoming habitual sins.
Defeating Habitual Sins
Source of habitual sins
Examples of habitual sins
Resources to defeat habitual sins
Nine steps to overcoming habitual sins
But you don't know my particular sin. I am beyond hope!
On the other hand, you could be continuing addictions to alcohol, drugs, or gambling.
Further, you may be persisting in struggling with inappropriate sexual relationships or viewing pornographic material. Additionally, you may feel overwhelmed by envy, guilt, or greed.
What's going on? Many new and young believers are disappointed that they still struggle with the same old habitual sins after becoming a Christian.
And that is why so many new believers become discouraged. For instance:
- Am I saved?
- Why do I continue to sin in the same old way?
- Can I ever overcome these habitual sins?
What's going on?
Habitual Sins as Spiritual Baggage
As an illustration, I have schlepped a lot of luggage around the country with four children. We often had to ask the kids to lighten their suitcases. Because too much baggage weighed us down and made us miserable.
Our excessive luggage is analogous to the Christian life carrying previous spiritual baggage. But unfortunately, many people enter God's kingdom carrying luggage that won't fit.
For example, they have histories of dysfunctional families, abuse, and trauma. Or they may instead be struggling with addiction, anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt.
But here is the thing. These are precisely the people God wants in his family! Jesus came and died for broken and needy people (John 3:16)! In other words, you and me!
But like over-stuffed luggage, new believers must remove these habitual sins. If they do not, their sins will continually weigh them down. As a result, they live hopeless lives that persist in sinful choices.
What are the Sources of Habitual Sins?
Before we trusted in Jesus Christ, we were slaves of sin (Rom. 6:17) and experts in sinful habits and character. Basically, there are three sources of our sins.
- First, there is our sinful nature (Rom. 6:12).
- Second is our surrounding culture (James 4:4).
- The third is the devil (1 Pet. 5:8).
Examples of Habitual Sins
There are many examples of habitual (or besetting) sins. Particularly those that become the focus of our lives. For example:
- First, pride (everything is about me)
- Second, power (everything is about control)
- Third, position (everything is about success)
- Fourth, prosperity (everything is about getting money)
- Fifth, pleasure (everything is about satisfying my needs)
If a particular sin is bothering you, it is probably the Holy Spirit "convicting" you. Meaning you should and can change.
Resources for Overcoming Habitual Sins
As a believer, you can conquer your sins without being its slave (Rom. 6:17-18; 8:31-39). Jesus' death and resurrection are the sources of your salvation (Eph. 2:8).
And after salvation, you are to be more like Jesus (1 Thess. 4:1-8). This process occurs over your lifetime and is called "sanctification,"
Sanctification means God expects every Christian to be righteous and holy (Eph. 4:22, 24).
And He gives you everything you need to do that. For instance:
- First, you have the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 14; 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19)
- Second, God's Word is the sole authority to guide you in every aspect of your life (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:2-11).
- Third, you have access to God's mercy, grace, wisdom, and power in Jesus Christ through prayer (John 16:23-24; Heb. 4:15-16; Jas. 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15).
Despite these resources, some Christians retain deeply embedded sin habits. To be free of these habitual sins requires significant effort.
Hard Truth: We Choose to Continue in Habitual Sins
Before we put our faith in Jesus, we were ignorant and blind to our sins (Eph. 4:18). But after salvation, the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:15-16) and the Bible let us know when we sin.
So when we continue sinning after our salvation, we know what we are doing. Hence, habitual sins make our sinfulness all the worse.
But as Christians, we do not need to continue being "slaves to sin" (Rom. 6:1-7). The cross defeated sin forever (Rom. 6:6).
Nine Steps to Overcoming Habitual Sins
1. Am I Truly a Christian?
Firstly, ask yourself, "I am saved?" (2 Cor. 13:5)? Although no Christian is sinless (1 John 1:8-10), are you striving to be more Christ-like?"
Understand me. We all have weaknesses and can fall into sin, even if we don't want to (Rom. 7:15).
But when you sin, the Spirit convicts you of sin. And as a result, we have godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:10-11). Thereupon we hate our sin, confess it, and ask forgiveness (Psa. 103:12, 1 John 1:9).
In contrast, if you habitually sin, never repent or turn to God, you are unlikely to be saved (1 John 3:9). And hence, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Truly repenting of your sin means not only a broken heart "for" sin but also "from" sin.
Genuine repentance is not an emotion ("feeling sorry" about your sins) but a motion of turning away from sin.
Therefore, if you are not turning to Christ and away from your sin: do that now! Put your complete trust in Christ and begin following him wholeheartedly.
2. Confronting Yourself
Secondly, confront yourself truthfully (Luke 6:39-45, Ps. 139:23-24).
For example, ask yourself:
- "What are my besetting sins and vulnerabilities to Satan's attacks?"
- "What are the circumstances of when, where, how, and with whom I commit my habitual sins?"
You'll never find total freedom until you can honestly put your finger on what and how you're struggling.
3. Lifestyle Change
Thirdly, defeating habitual sins requires lifestyle changes. You cannot allow any opportunity for corruption in your life (Rom. 13:14).
Given that, you need to answer specific questions about your habitual sins. For example:
- "What are the times, places, situations, and people that I must avoid because they tempt me?"
- Do I usually drink or party with the same old friends?
- Am I consistently prideful, greedy, jealous, angry, or anxious?
- Do I seek out inappropriate internet content after 11:00 p.m.?
- Do I speak badly about others whenever you're on Facebook?
Write down your answers and how you will avoid them. After that, ask others to keep you accountable for avoiding evil behavior.
As a new Christian with spiritual baggage, your spiritual health requires boundaries. Especially during this early season, to keep you from temptation.
For instance, Jesus commands, "If your right-hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matt. 5:30).
Some steps may be short-term, like changing your bedtime to 10 p.m. for the next six months. Other measures may be long-term, like deciding never to drink alcohol again.
But lifestyle changes are critical. They will keep you from temptations that seduce you into your habitual sins.
Now that you have taken a hard look at yourself, where can you look next for real change and freedom? Check out the following blog article for these steps.