How Do I Deal With A Besetting Sin?
Most men and most women who fear God have a problem: there is at times something in their lives which they know is wrong, but they cannot stamp it out. Conscience troubles them. At times they lie awake in bed worrying about it. It may be something no one knows anything about but themselves.
It may be a wrong friendship developing, or a liking for strong drink, or a failing to speak the truth. It may be a craving for bad books, or being carried away with the worldly people – or all manner of things. We have a wretched fallen nature.
How can a child of God deal with this – a bad habit, a besetting sin, call it what you will?
Does the Word of God give any leading here?
Clearly does the bible speak of the christian life as a conflict, a struggle – but what help, what direction does it give?
We have tried to summarise the teaching of God’s Word on this point.
1. Identify your fault. Mark it out. Don’t make any excuses for it. Realize that it is thoroughly bad, that it is God-dishonouring. In other words, know your enemy, recognize your enemy. It is said that in lawless days of the “wild west” frontier in the U.S.A. the golden rule was: “Never take your eyes off the man’s gun holster!”
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1st Peter 5:8)
2. With God’s help, be determined to root it out, whatever the cost.
3. Realize that you yourself cannot do it. You are too weak, too helpless. Your enemy is too strong for you. Then seek to be much in prayer. Confess your sin. Pray against it. Seek forgiveness through Jesus’ blood. Cry out against your flesh. Plead for the Holy Spirit’s aid to subdue it.
4. Never play with the first motions of temptation. Don’t dally. Treat the first risings of this sin in your heart as you would sparks that fly out of the fire on to the carpet. Stamp them out immediately. Fight against even the thought.
5. Seek the LORD’s help against all the risings of sin in your heart. Beware of being so preoccupied with your besetting sin that, while seeking to quell this, you allow other things.
6. Never neglect the reading of the Word and prayer. “Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do.” Beware of being idle.
7. Avoid the occasion for sin. Flee from bad company – or from any occasion or place where you are specially likely to be tempted to your fault.
8. Above all, seek by faith to look to the cross of Christ. Think how much He suffered, how heavily the burden of His people’s sin lay upon Him.
It is faith in Jesus that overcomes the world, that purifies the heart. Look to Jesus as an almighty Saviour, able to do for you what you seek.
Read: Romans 6; Romans 8; Romans 13; Colossians 3.