Sometimes, you are held in the grip of a particular sin, a sin that you just can’t say no to, a sin that grieves you, a sin that damages your relationship with others, or might even cost you your job. Such a sin may even cost you your relationship to God.
It might be that this sin has become an automatic response in you. It may be something that you don’t think about, something that you don’t even make a conscious decision to do.
It may seem that all of your attempts to resist this sin are in vain. Like trying to struggle your way out of a muddy hole, you slide all too easily back in, working yourself deeper and deeper into the mire. Praying about it seems to be ineffective.
This is the first part in a two part series about freeing yourself from the grips of sin.
So you recognize that this sin is a problem. You’ve tried to stop and can’t. What do you do next?
It’s time to ask yourself some hard questions.
Am I a believer? We do not come to believe in God on our own. The Holy Spirit works in our heart to bring faith. But we can lose that faith on our own. The idea of “once saved, always saved,” is a fallacy. The bible makes no such promise. We each have a responsibility to keep God given faith alive and healthy.
So if your faith is weak, how do you strengthen it? The best way is through a combination of bible study and prayer. There simply is no better way to recharge your faith battery than reading the bible. Not listening to sermons, not reading devotions, or articles about faith and inspiration, but go direct to the source and read the Holy Scriptures. God talks directly to you through the Scriptures.
Reading the Scriptures is like plugging yourself into a faith charger. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to grow your faith deep down inside. Prayer is how you fine-tune your faith. Prayer is a two-fold thing. Your conscious mind makes a conversation with God, but deep inside, your heart converses with God as well. Often when you meditate on the Word of God, and follow up with a prayerful conversation with Him, your conscious mind has trouble expressing what your heart is feeling. Know that at times like those, God, who knows all things, knows exactly what your heart is saying. A good place to start for a faith boost is the book of 1 John.
Do I really want to stop sinning? Sometimes you only hate the feeling of guilt, or you hate the hurt that you impose on others by your sin. You can give the appearance of remorse and deep regret when you are confronted by your sin, but deep inside, your sin gives you pleasure. Like a dieter grabbing a candy bar, you indulge in this sin. You likely regret it later, but so does the dieter with his candy bar. That regret is not enough to make either one of you stop.
It’s not necessarily Satan tempting you to sin. It’s your mind remembering the pleasure. If there is no pleasure gained from the sin, it wouldn’t be so had to stop. Even if your sin is something like losing your temper, that fit of anger becomes your comfortable place. Your anger gives you power and the momentary feeling of power give you pleasure
So, do you really want to stop? Is your desire to please yourself greater than your desire to please God? Time to give it some hard thought. Read Philippians 2:5-8
Have I confessed my sin to God? Confession is not something you do because God needs a report of your activities. God sees your every sin. He knows your every weakness. He is not deceived. A special relationship forms when we confess our sins to God. Be honest with God and lay it all out before Him. Confess to your sin to God. Tell him your fears. Tell him your weaknesses, even if one of those weakness is not wanting to give up your sin. Hold nothing back. Talk to God about how you fell into this sin in the first place, and what keeps you going back to it. As you pray, Keep James 1:13-15 in mind.
Have I confessed my sin to a fellow Christian? Confession to God is the ultimate in privacy, no one else need ever know. But confession to another believer, enlisting that person in our fight, is a way of drawing a line in the sand and saying, “I am fully committed. I am asking you to be a witness and to pray with me–to watch out for me when I falter.” A good person to make your confession to is your Pastor. He stands ready to pray for you and to give you words of encouragement and guidance.
If you find yourself too embarrassed to reveal yourself to your pastor, or if you don’t have a pastor to call on, you can confess anonymously by email. Using this form, you can write to the Pastor here at Trinity without revealing your identity.
Or you may want to enlist the aid of a trusted friend. Make sure that it is one that is strong in the faith, one capable of helping you resist this sin. When ask for their help, be sure to pray for them as well. Read James 5:13-18.
Next week, I will continue this lesson with more tough questions you need to ask yourself.
Special thanks to Crystal McDowell who provided an outline for this article as well as many of the bible verses.
About the Author: David Brugge is a Layman at Trinity where he serves as an Elder. He attended St. Paul’s College High in Concordia, MO. and Concordia College in Seward, NE.