by Cole Lane:
Being a Christian, especially a new Christian, can put you in a weird place. You understand the weight of your sin, and you know how it destroys your heart. Yet, you can’t seem to get away from that sin. Now, every Christian is sinful in some way. Every Christian goes through times of darkness and shame. Every Christian is tempted on some level at some point. Sometimes they give in, sometimes they don’t. However, many Christians deal with habitual sin.
What’s the difference? “Normal” sin is a failure that only comes up occasionally. For many people I know, they will occasionally struggle with a burst of anger or a white lie here and there. “Habitual” sin on the other hand is exactly what it sounds like, a habit. For these people instead of an occasional fit of anger, they always find a reason to be angry. Instead of white lies they constantly make up stories and lies. Habitual sin grabs on to the heart and refuses to let go.
Dealing with a habitual sin is frustrating and discouraging. You see your sin, you understand that you should flee, you know you are offending the Father, and you know it is wrong. But you just can’t seem to stop.
If you’re like me, it is a habit that you brought along from before your conversion. You are already addicted to a sin and the false happiness it brings. In some way, you don’t want to let go because you still want that sin in your life.
Dealing with someone in habitual sin can also be frustrating. No matter how much you counsel them, disciple them, encourage them, pray with them, or give them tips to flee from sin, they don’t seem to get it. It can come across that they don’t even care about repenting. So, what do you say to someone like this? Here are three ideas that I have found helpful in repenting of habitual sin.
You Are Not Alone
As I walk through repenting of my sins it helps to know that I am not alone in any aspect of repenting. I am not alone because I am not the only one that struggles with habitual sin. While this is a sad truth, it helps to know that I am not the worst person on the planet. This can seem shallow and even prideful, but knowing that there are other people that go through what I go through helps me know that there are others a can work with and be accountable to.
I am not alone because I have support. There are people in my life that I have placed to help me repent. I have people that help me when I am discouraged and rejoice with me when I take the right steps towards repentance. This means, though, that if you have identified someone in habitual sin you need to support them.
I am not alone because there are people who have gone before me to defeat their sins. This gives me hope because I know that it is possible to repent of habitual sin. People have gone before me and turned away from what has held them captive. This gives me an example to live up to.
You Can Repent with the Spirit’s Help
It can be easy to recognize that habitual sin is so prevalent and take that as an excuse to stay stuck in sin. This is detrimental to the spiritual life. If you are unwilling to recognize your sin and repent, you should begin to question your regeneration. If you are someone helping someone trying to repent of habitual sin, encourage them to continue taking steps to defeat their sins and not get burned out when they fail.
Practically, the single biggest factor for me overcoming sin was understanding that I couldn’t do it on my own. I must have the Spirit working within me in order to repent. I tried for so long to do it on my own before I realized that I was just too weak to defeat sin. I was never even close to repenting through my own power. Remind the person your helping that they can’t overcome by their own power.
Christ Has Already Won
This is such an important truth for every Christian to remember. Christ has already defeated sin. In the end the struggles of this world will no longer matter. The sin I dealt with and continue to deal with are only a product of living in the “already, but not yet.” This gives me peace and rest. I need to repent, this is true. But when I fail I rest knowing that Christ still loves me and victory is secured despite my failure.
If you are dealing with habitual sin, press on in repentance and know that God loves you. If you know someone stuck in sin pray for them and support them.