Do habitual sins have you feeling like there is no hope? This article will help you learn how to deal with habitual sin and find freedom in Christ. In the text, we will talk about how habitual sin happens, why it’s so hard to stop, and what helps us get through these tough times. After reading this article, you’ll be armed with 5 steps that can lead to breaking the chains of habitual sin!
How Habitual Sin Happens
Oops, I did it again. I told God last time would be the last time, but it has happened again. How could I let this happen? Will God forgive me for repeating the same sin? How will I ever stop?
The biggest cause in my cycle of habitual sin has been the shame and guilt associated with doing the sin. I ask people for prayer and for accountability, and I feel like I let them down when I have to confess it happened again.
Those feelings intensify when I face having to admit to my creator that I broke his rules…again. Why do I feel this way? It’s not like he doesn’t already know, right?
The magnitude of sin causes guilt and shame in our lives. Those emotions are a good. They mean two things:
- We know what we are doing is wrong – If we thought it wasn’t wrong, there would be nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to feel guilty for.
- We aren’t proud that we are doing it – If we are proud of what we are doing, then we don’t care if it is wrong, it is what we want to do, and nobody and nothing is going to stop us.
Why Can’t I Stop This Habitual Sin?
Unfortunately, the enemy of God uses these feelings of guilt and shame to further separate habitual sinners from God. He keeps us from praying and seeking forgiveness by either telling us that we are justified in our sin, or that God will never forgive us for our habitual sin.
This drives us back into the sinful behavior. After a while, the habitual sin becomes familiar and comfortable, and we move away from God.
Why is Habitual Sin Dangerous?
Eventually, if we let it go long enough, we begin to convince ourselves that we deserve the sinful behavior and tell ourselves that we enjoy the sin. This leads us to be proud of the sin, and will cause us to reject God altogether.
Sin unchecked and unforgiven causes death. Not just a passing from this life, but an eternal separation from God himself. God cannot be in the presence of sin, which is the whole reason Jesus died on the cross, to cover those sins.
But God will not overlook sins that are not confessed. And confessing the same sin over and over can be a sign that someone has not repented of that sin. To repent is to turn away from the sin, and if you keep committing the same sin over and over, you may not be turning away.
For me, I know I toy with sin from time to time. It’s a terrible habit, and one I have struggled to break. Often it requires a radical amputation as Jesus discussed in Matthew.
I haven’t plucked my eye out or cut off my arm (or any other body part), but I have asked my wife to put blockers on my web-enabled devices to keep me honest. I have also made it a point to confess my sin to her when I do, so that we may pray over it together.
How To Overcome Habitual Sin
Here are 5 steps to stopping the cycle of habitual sin in your life. These are by no means the only ways, nor is it an exhaustive list. They are merely 5 steps I have used to combat habitual sin in my life:
1. Identify the habitual sin that is causing you to feel guilt
The first step in many anonymous program is to admit you have a problem and that you are powerless over it. The same is true with any sin. When you admit the problem, you address its existence. Ever heard the line, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he never existed?” Well, he does this with your sins too.
2. Confess your habitual sin to God and ask for forgiveness
Once you identify the sin that keeps you stumbling, you should confess it. Many people confuse the reason for confession. God doesn’t need to know you sinned, He already knows! Confession is for your benefit. It forces you to admit to yourself that you did it, and to face the fact that it was wrong.
The same goes for asking for forgiveness. God forgave you the moment His son died on the cross. It is a free gift available for you anytime you choose to receive it.
3. Pray about your struggle with habitual sin
Forgiveness may be given as soon as you choose to receive it, but this is where many (including myself for a time) have stopped. In so doing, we declare the race over at the halfway mark.
You must continue to pray and seek the guidance and grace of God to overcome habitual sin. If not, we have merely turned toward God, and took no real steps in His direction.
Praying also keeps fresh in your mind that you are locked in spiritual warfare, and that the enemy waits at every opportunity to convince you to revisit this old friend of habitual sin.
4. Spend time in reading the Bible and go to a small group, or attend church services
Reading the Bible will reveal more about who you are to yourself than any counselor could ever do. There is something about that ancient text that is alive, and it will show you a mirror to your very soul if you are open to it.
Likewise, if you attend a small group or a church service with true believers, they will make an honest effort to get to know you. Through doing this, they will hold you accountable and keep you from your habitual sin by reminding you of the cost of doing this sin.
5. Find a mentor or someone who can help you through this difficult time
Finding someone from that small group or that church body that can identify with your sinful behavior and help you on your journey towards Christ can help you by giving you a friendly face to confess to and a sounding board to guide you through this painful process.
There will come times you will grieve your sin. This is natural. It’s a bit like losing a family member you know was bad for you, but you have good memories with. As much as you make yourself believe you are better off without them, you still hold those good memories. Remember, though that it was leading you away from God.
Bonus: Be patient – it will take some time before you break free from habitual sin
You didn’t get to where you are with this sin overnight. It took years to develop this habit, and it may take ten times longer to escape its clutches. Remember to have grace and mercy with yourself in this process.
God saw fit to forgive you, so don’t think that you know better than God. Stop worrying over whether or not you will be forgiven, and accept that you have. Now stop looking at your past, and don’t look to the future either.
Take each moment for what it is. You can only control yourself in the present. You cannot change your past, and you cannot predict the future. You can only make the best choice now.
Now is the Time to Stop Your Habitual Sin
If you are a child of God and a follower of Jesus, you have unimaginable power at your disposal, but you have to claim it. If you don’t use the spiritual gifts available to you, including grace and mercy, you may forget they are there and never use them.
I urge you to read your Bible so you know the gifts available to you, including forgiveness for your sins. Also, find a small group to attend and begin sharing some of your struggles and fears with the group. You don’t have to share details, but simply sharing that you are struggling can be enough to have others pray for you and give you advise to help you in your fight.
Church is a hospital, and anyone who is injured by sin, habitual or not, can find rest and refuge there. Attend a service and see if you might find others who have the same struggle as you.
If you are not familiar with Christ Jesus, find a church near you and talk to the leadership there about your desire to know Him more. Some may even have a free Bible they can give you to read to help you discover an escape hatch from the sin you feel compelled to.