When war is raging, people face some struggles. That is true in carnal warfare, but it is true in the spiritual realm as well. God instructs His children to “abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Dealing with temptation day in and day out can really wear on a person’s mind.
As Christians, we want to live for God’s glory. We recognize that sin is the only thing that can cause us to be alienated from our Lord and keep us out of heaven. There may be times when we feel like our struggle to overcome sin is overwhelming. On occasion perhaps we feel like we are fighting a losing battle. Does that sound familiar?
Is it possible for a child of God to live a sinless life? Here is the reality for Christians: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). There are no sinless disciples. All of us have to face the sin struggle.
Is it possible for sin to reign in a person’s life? The Bible says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12). Yes, it is possible for a person to be a slave of sin (Romans 6:16), but that is not God’s will for our lives. He wants us to be free, godly servants.
Is sin really that appealing? Satan dangles the bait, so to speak, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin . . .” (James 1:14,15). The “pleasures of sin” may be temporary (Hebrews 11:25), but such pleasures are what gives sin its “pull.” And that pull is real.
Is it possible to lay aside sin? “Therefore . . . let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). It is an incredible challenge, but it is possible to do.
Do I feel like I am committing the same sin(s) over and over? If so, I may wonder, “What is wrong with me? Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes?” In about one hour’s time, Peter repeated the same mistake (denying Jesus three times). How do you suppose that made him feel? Well, he “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:59-62). A repeated sin does not mean that one is an awful person. It may be that that is the point of weakness for which he needs to make a special effort. Remember: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Also, do not forget that our Father is a God of multiple chances. In His mercy, He is ready to forgive us each time that we turn from and confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9). Let us take on the sin challenge one day at a time.
If I am struggling with sin, am I seeking help in the proper place? Some might consider turning to hypnosis, a psychiatrist, or drugs. Others may seek out some religious leader. A child of God understands his true source of strength: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
Will prayer help me when I struggle with sin? We know that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). Because we have Jesus as our great High Priest, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Yes, there is a prayer-help connection. As we hang our heads at the weakness of our flesh, recall what Jesus told His apostles: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
Will studying God’s word help me as I struggle with sin? It certainly has the potential to do so. The Psalmist said to Jehovah, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). The Bible instructs us about how the Lord wants us to live. It sets forth the consequences of overcoming sin, just as it shows the consequences of failing to do so. It shows us that others have struggled with sin and prevailed. It reminds us of God’s remedy for sin and our access to that remedy. Yes, studying the Scriptures can help us, but in the end, we are going to have to be the ones to step up and deal with the temptations that come our way. We have to be the ones who take personal responsibility for our actions and say, “I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep your word” (Psalm 119:101).
If I am struggling with sin, are my surroundings having a rotten influence on me? You and I are the ones who make the choice whether or not we will give in to temptation, but is it possible that the people with whom I spend a lot of time or my job environment are a factor in why I find it so hard to overcome temptation? Be honest. “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33), and constantly being in an environment of darkness can weaken the resolve of any person. Would a change of surroundings or close associations help me? It is something to think about.
Am I ready to forgive myself? God’s promise is that He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). When He forgives us, we need to put our sin in the past and leave it there. That is exactly what He does. When He blots out our sin, He no longer holds it against us (Hebrews 8:12). Beating ourselves up over past, forgiven mistakes is not healthy. Let us learn to take life and its challenges one day at a time.
— Roger D. Campbell