The writer of Hebrews refers to our seeking to lay aside “every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” (see Hebrews 12:1). You likely know, just as I do, what it’s like to battle the same particular sin over and over and over again. It’s discouraging, challenging, and feels downright shameful sometimes. Romans 8:37 describes us believers as being “more than conquerors”, but we don’t really feel like that, nor do we know how to.
The amazing, good news of the gospel is that God’s forgiveness and power are available to us in our own lives, in our own struggles, whenever we need them. It absolutely is possible to break free from habitual sin, but we will need to enlist the help of the four following Christ-centered tools in order to truly walk in freedom:
- Erect Boundaries and Barriers
If we know that we battle with a particular sin, it is a must that we build up certain walls of protection and wise practices which will better aid us in not falling into that same sin again. David, for example, said in Psalm 101:3a, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes”.
It is not enough to determine in your heart to not fall into that particular sin again. As Proverbs 16:18 reminds us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” If we ever begin to think we would never do such and such again, then Satan has us right where he wants us, and our unguarded and unprepared selves will find it easy to fall into temptation and sin yet again.
- Enlist the Accountability and Help of Friends
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is trying to walk alone in our efforts to avoid our habitual sins. We need each other to make us stronger! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says,”Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” When dealing with habitual sin, regularly meet with an accountability partner.
- Do Not Rely on Your Own Strength
As the verse from Proverbs quoted above reminds us, relying on our own strength and ability is a recipe for disaster. Matthew 26:41 encourages us to, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This leads us to the single-most important thing we must do in order to victoriously combat habitual sin…..
- Walk by the Spirit
I always wanted the fruits of the Spirit – “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23) – to be what characterized my life. I wanted to live a holy, righteous, upright life. I used to wonder, then, why determining in my heart to be the most loving, peaceful, patient, holy person out there wasn’t getting me anywhere.
It was because I was relying on my own strength and ability rather than backing up and following the words of Galatians 5:16-18, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
This is why I am now so passionate about encouraging and equipping my sisters-in-Christ to walk by the Spirit – because that one simple practice truly is the key to overcoming once and for all the habitual sin in your life.
What does this look like? Well, the tools and practices of walking by the Spirit include reading and studying God’s Word and living out its truth, abiding in Christ and the freedom, love, grace, and lack of condemnation there are in Him, remaining constant in prayer, seeking godly counsel, attending church and growing among a local body of believers, and meditating on the truths and implications of the gospel. Do these things, and your heart and mind will be changed. When that happens, your life as a whole will be changed, too!
It can be so easy to fall into despair, hopelessness, and self-condemnation when we fall into habitual sin yet again. But we do not have to remain there! There are tools at our disposal every moment of every day which can and will make us truly victorious in Christ! Praise God for that!