Ever felt the urge to do something you knew was wrong in God’s eyes, but stopped because you mustered up the strength and courage to put off the earthly, ungodly desires of the heart? And then found yourself going ahead and committing the sin moments later, because the flesh was weak even though the spirit was willing?
Struggling with sin has become a real challenge for me. From lusting after material possessions to telling half-truths so that someone I disliked would get the reputation I felt he or she deserved, the propensity to sin hasn’t changed much since I came to know God.
Many times, when the urge to sin arose, I would try to flee both the deed and the thought. But time and time again, that initial response was not enough: inevitably, I could not hold fast to what I knew was the right thing to do, and went ahead and sinned anyway.
For a while, this made me doubt whether God was really present in my life. I was tired of singing about how much I loved Jesus in church on Sunday mornings, only to find myself in need of God’s forgiveness soon after. The cycle of acknowledging my wrongdoings and declaring my repentance to God became tiresome. Was there ever going to be a time when all these would end?
Are you facing a similar struggle? Let me share 3 tips I have learnt about my journey.
1. Acknowledge that my sinful nature is here to stay.
I have come to recognise and accept that all these reconciliatory moments with God will continue because of my sinful nature (Romans 3:23). However, every vulnerable moment spent before the Most High God is an opportunity to remember how undependable my own moral compass is. Because sin has placed me in a hopeless state, I need to go to a hope-filled God constantly—a God who conquered sin (1 Cor 15:57).
2. Never think I can conquer sin on my own.
Thinking that I could walk into a sin-filled environment or situation and be able to withdraw anytime I needed to simply because I knew Jesus has proved to be a deadly mistake. Even when Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery with her, his response was to run away—literally. He didn’t even stay a moment to consider it. Even just entertaining sinful thoughts can place us in compromising situations. When in doubt, flee.
3. Never allow sin to dictate your worthiness before God—be persistent in repenting.
I believe that one of the devil’s main master plans is to wear us out with the guilt of past sins, and to trap us into believing that God has given up hearing us apologize for the wrongs that we continue to do. The more we focus on our guilt, the more time we lose to live upright lives for Jesus. Instead, let’s remember that the very same God whom we fear would reject us, has died for us so that we may have eternal life. God sees our struggles, knows our guilt, and gives Jesus to heal our brokenness. The Bible tells us of God’s response to our sin in Romans 8:34: “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.’
In my struggle with sin and repentance, I have learnt to keep running back to Jesus. Although I have been saved, it does not mean that God is done with me. I am very much still a work-in-progress where the pursuit of holiness is concerned. But I can keep striving towards living an upright life, knowing that Jesus walks with me on this journey.