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How do I overcome a habitual sin?

Habitual sins are often the leftover sins of our previous lives before Jesus. In some cases, they may have been the very sins that most convinced us of our need for a Savior. Sometimes they creep up as seemingly "harmless" sins or as "one time only" curiosities that grow into a regular part of daily life. Habitual sins can cause a lot of frustration and shame, but, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can move past them!

First, it's important to remember that God's forgiveness isn’t based on how good you are or all the good choices you made, but on the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. And once we choose salvation, the grace of Jesus protects us from losing that salvation if we mess up. Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” So that means NOW...and in a minute...and an hour from now. Jesus knew what He was getting into when He died for you (Romans 5:18).

With Great Grace Comes Great Responsibility

While our habitual sin is forgiven by Jesus, Romans 6:1 encourages us not to use that grace as a "license" to sin. We should commit to taking action—no matter how difficult—to move past these sins. Striving for holiness honors the great gift of forgiveness Jesus has given us. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is one of the greatest encouragements in helping us move past habitual sins:

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.” —1 Corinthians 10:13

This is an import Scripture to memorize as you battle habitual sin. It reminds us that temptation is common. As alone as you may feel in your struggle, remind yourself that everyone deals with these issues. Also notice that God gives us a way to escape—but we must be willing and prepared to take it. Beating habitual sins also comes by partnering in prayer each day with the Lord: “God, I know that the temptation to ___________ may creep up on me today. Help me be ready to take the escape route.”

Know When to Ask for Help

Before the struggle gets to be more than you can bear, look for an accountability partner. James 5:16 says to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” This should be a trusted friend who will commit to pray for you and to whom you give permission to ask at any time, “How’s it going in your fight against X?”

Knowing that your friend is going to ask for updates and pray for you can be a great encouragement to press on toward the goal and celebrate wins together!

Struggling against sin is never going to be comfortable or easy, but it'll always be worth it. As long as you are struggling against sin, as long as you keep fighting sin, then you're making progress and getting another win over the enemy. Never stop fighting.

God is rooting for you. His forgiveness is there for the moments we fall, but also to encourage us to start choosing obedience and the joy that comes with honoring God. The Holy Spirit is your constant helper in all things—especially those times when we're at a crossroads between sin and holiness (John 14:16-17). You’ll never be sinless, but you DO have a wonderful opportunity to sin less.

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TL;DR

Habitual sins are often left over from before we committed to Jesus, but sometimes, they're seemingly "harmless" sins that have crept up and taken hold in daily life. While all sin is forgiven by Jesus, Romans 6:1 encourages us not to use God's grace as a "license" to sin. Striving for holiness honors the great gift of forgiveness Jesus has given us. Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for times of temptation, talk to God about your struggles, and get an accountability partner to help you. Struggling against sin is never going to be comfortable or easy, but it'll always be worth it. You’ll never be sinless, but you DO have a wonderful opportunity to sin less.

By: Heath Tibbetts

Heath served as a youth pastor and speaker for over a decade around the United States. He now serves as a pastor in Northern Illinois with his wife and three teenage kids. Heath enjoys running, going out on dates with his wife, and helping people grow in their walk with Jesus!

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