Do you have some repetitive areas of sin in your life that are so predictable that you could set a timer because you know it is only a matter of days or possibly even hours until you’ll fall to that same sin again? You are not alone. Don’t despair. Don’t stop trying. Let’s look at some biblical tips to help us in our fight.
We can never be sure at the moment when we are asking for God’s forgiveness that we will not commit that same sin again. The reality is, due in part to our fallen nature, we most likely will.
Sometimes we become discouraged and start to believe that God tires of our habitual sinfulness and we worry that this time He might withhold His mercy and forgiveness. At moments like this, we need to remind ourselves of how Jesus answered Peter in Matthew 18:22 when he asks if he was obligated to forgive seven times. Jesus answered with this: “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Jesus is there every time we fall.
Sin is alluring and often fun, that’s why we do it. This is why any sin can easily become repetitive and habitual. Sadly for anyone dealing with sexual sins, these sins can become more than habitual, they often become an addiction. We must realize that on our own we are helpless to break the chains of all sin. Our will and effort are important, but in the end it requires God’s grace.
The good news is this, God is more concerned about the change of our heart and our desire to do His Will than He is about the slips and back sliding that we seem to all fall into. Matthew 23:25-26.
I heard a Catholic priest tell a story about a man who was saddened by his recurring sin. The man told this priest that he was tired of dealing with the same sin over and over and over again. The priest responded by saying something like this: “So let me get this straight, you would rather have new sins to contend with each week. Maybe you should give thanks to God that you have narrowed it down to only one to work on.” Personally I thought this was an interesting way to look at this age old problem of recurring sin.
Here then are some steps that might help us in our battle to overcome recurring sin:
- Acknowledge our sin.
- “If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 1 John 1:8-9
- “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.” Psalm 51:19
- Complete a personal assessment.
- We should ask ourselves if the focus of our life is truly serving the Lord.
- Are we spending adequate time reading scripture and in prayer?
- The more we fill ourselves up with God, the less room we leave for sin to creep in.
- Develop an action plan for change.
- Try writing down your life’s goals and your personal creed. You can use this written statement to guide you when facing temptations.
- Write down your planned replacement actions. In other words, have a plan for what you plan to do in lieu of your usual repetitive sinful actions when temptations comes knocking at your door.
- Find an accountability friend.
- “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” James 5:16
- Make your struggles known to a close friend and confidant and ask for help. “Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them.” Sirach 6:16
- Pride is often a stumbling point in overcoming recurring sin. Let this verse from the song BROKEN by Kenneth Cope sink in: “Broken pride gives sight to the blind.”
These are some steps that have helped me over the years. I hope they might help you too. In the end, we must realize that we will battle sin our entire life. We must remember that we cannot change ourselves. It is our faith in Jesus Christ that will save us and through the Holy Spirit we will continue to be refined and grow from our mistakes.
Pope Francis had this to say about recurring sin: “The most important thing in the life of every man and every woman is not that they should never fall along the way. The important thing is always to get back up, not to stay on the ground licking your wounds.”
Most gracious and Heavenly Father, thank you for being there to bandage up our wounds every time we fall off our bicycles and skin our knees with sin. Your limitless mercy is hard to fathom. Amen!
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.