Overcoming Habitual Sin
As believers, our lives should be different than the world. Meaning, as Christ-followers, our lives should not be marred by sinful, worldly, or carnal-minded behavior. Dr. Danny Akin says, “A life of living in sin and living in the Savior is an oxymoron.” It cannot coexist, sinning and walking in the Spirit, yet we all sin. Walking in the spirit and the flesh at the same time is something that causes spiritual turmoil, namely, for the person who claims to walk with God. We have all met someone, an acquaintance, family member, or friend, who claims to know Jesus, yet their lives do not match the confession. A person who lives their life in direct opposition to the things of God has not experienced the new birth. Meaning, if a person claims to be a follower of Christ, there should be some evidence, namely, the fruits of the spirit, because the Holy Spirit indwells those who are believers. The Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Yet, followers of Christ are not sinless and still sin.
The topic of this post examines habitual and unchallenged sin. Pastor Travis Agnew says, “There is a difference between committing sin and practicing it…Sin will be a consistent struggle, but it should not be an unchallenged habit.” Essentially, unchallenged sin, or habitual sin, is the practice of sinning, without remorse, without conviction, and fighting. Christ-followers are not left alone in this fight; in fact, God has given believers the Holy Spirit and a new nature.
Dr. Akin reminds us, “Because of the new birth, we have a new nature. Because Christ has taken away our sins, we have new liberty and freedom. Sin no longer dominates us or enslaves us. Sin is no longer the character and conduct of my life…I may fall into sin, but I will not walk in sin. Sin will not be my habit.” In addition, Dr. John MacArthur writes, “A genuinely born-again believer has a built-in check or guards against habitual sinning due to a new nature…Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the Law of God which they love (Ps. 119:34; 77, 97; Rom. 7:12, 22).” 1 John 3:6 says, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” In reference to 1 John 3:6, Dr. MacArthur says, “If no check against habitual sin exists in someone who professes to be a Christian, John’s pronouncement is absolutely clear- salvation never took place.”
Another reason why Christians cannot make a practice of sin is because of the conflict it causes with the work of Christ (MacArthur). “Christ died to sanctify the believer (2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 5:25-27). Meaning, the born-again believer is supposed to grow and be more like Christ, not the sinful world. Also, to sin is contrary to Christ’s work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believers life (Rom. 6:1-15).” In sum, a Christ-follower has a new nature because of being born- again through the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit resides in a believer, the desires to live for Christ and be more like Jesus are present. When those desires and fruits of the Spirit are not present, the diagnosis is a spiritual problem, namely, bondage to sin. Sin is a problem for us all, but for believers, our lives should not be marked by the practice or habitually of sin.
Our Sin Problem
We all have a sin problem. “Sin is the great enemy and problem of humanity, and only God can rescue us and solve our problem…If sin is personal enemy number one, then Satan is public enemy number one” (Danny Akin). For believers, we have an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy us and our testimony in Christ. Satan is lawless and despises the things of God. It is important to remember, followers of Christ still sin. Some people claim sinless perfection to become or be a Christian. Plainly stating, there is only One person who has not sinned, and that is Jesus Christ. Other than that, nobody can claim that they do not have sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). The thing we must examine is the practice and habitual unchallenging of sin.
In conclusion, we all sin and need God’s forgiveness. The good news is, we can approach God and ask for forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). Pastor Travis Agnew says, “A request for forgiveness should create a rejection of the things for which we need to be forgiven.” Therefore, when we seek forgiveness from God, there must be repentance that accompanies our request. In other words, our actions should match the demand. There should be some kind of action that moves us from just feeling sorry to turning away from our sin and turning to Jesus. To truly turn from our sins and overcome our regular habits, we will need God’s help. The only way to truly defeat sin is through the power of the Holy Spirit. Second, we need accountability. We need people we trust to help us walk through the temptations lest we return to our sin. One of the best ways to have this is through Gospel Groups or having a weekly accountability partner. We need people willing to lift us up in prayer and challenge people in their habitual practices. Most of all, we need the gospel of Jesus!!!!!
What action steps do you need to take in your life regarding your sin? What do you need to confess and repent of?
First and foremost, do you claim to be a believer of Jesus Christ? If so, what are the sins that you need to confess to Jesus? If not, your first step is turning to Jesus in repentance and faith to begin a relationship with him.
What area of your life are you sinning habitually? What areas of your life need to be challenged?
Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus In 1, 2,& 3 John (Daniel Akin)
The MacArthur Bible Commentary (John MacArthur)
1-3 John: Reformed Expository Commentary (Douglas Sean O’Donnell)
The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament (Warren Wiersbe)