Our Besetting Sins: What I Have Learned So Far


Besetting Sins

I am 64 now and I retired last June mainly due to health problems related to previous cancer treatments. The Lord has blessed me in many ways, despite my sinful nature and rebellion. I have a wonderful wife and two wonderful Adult children and two grandchildren. Christ has allowed me to grow closer to my wife and family as a result and to revisit some of my first loves my artwork and my writing. Time is a precious thing and as we are told in James, we can’t take it for granted. I learned many years ago that a five year plan although commendable was not spiritually realistic (at least for me). My life has been fast and furious and often in turmoil due to multiple cancers, poor decisions and yes due to my own ambitions and desires.

I am generally a very reflective person but as a sinner I have blind spots in my evaluation of myself. I can justify my sins with the best of them. But sin is sin. Our hearts and souls are an open Book to our God, and we cannot hide our thoughts, our depravity, and our sins both mental and overt from him. Part of our self-delusion from sin is we do it with an expectation of its being know only to us. A very public example of this is the recent revelations about the late Ravi Zacharias. He knew about sin, besetting sins, sexual sins yet he committed them anyway.

God’s Holy Word is “alive” as it was spoken to humans through the Holy Spirit and acts as a searchlight in conjunction with the Candle of the Lord. God uttered words to bring into existence the cosmos and all of us just as he uttered words to the biblical human authors about creation and Humans who were made in his image. Once we are saved our Human Spirit is active. That is our connection with Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the lamp of the LORD, searching all his innermost parts.

If we truly look at our own sins, we will see Selfishness at the top which is basically the same as pride and is at the heart of what Paul refers to as indwelling sin.

Romans 7:23 ESV 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Indwelling Sin remains in us as a believer. The corruption and depravity of our hearts is at the foundation of all our sinning. Selfish pride can be seen as we have expectations of being served Philippians 2:2-3 ESV 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

We have an entitled attitude: Ephesians 4:32 ESV 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

We also seek praise at every turn: Romans 2:29 ESV 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

We expect to get our way always: 1 Corinthians 4:12-13 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.


We believe we can react badly when someone criticizes us: Romans 12:19-21 ESV 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[a] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

How many times have you expressed anger to the obstacle in my way? Or in self-pity sought admiration for my being mistreated? And today so apparent in ourselves and our culture the quickness to blame and a reflex to attribute to others the cause of my frustrations. Some people call it pouting but we demonstrate a sullenness, discouragement, moodiness, hopelessness, and deadness of emotion?

Matthew 5:29 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

So here is one thing I have learned. Paul made it clear for me (and you) the connection between Christ’s cancelation of my sins on the cross and my conscious, willed effort of conquering my sins through a Spirit-empowered effort. What Paul is saying to us is the pattern of passivity that all of us permit in relation to our sins, is no excuse and we must kill those sins and not allow or nurture them.

The reason behind our active effort in pursuing holiness, actively killing sins is the death of Christ. For all of us that means the power for conquering our besetting sins is the reality that Christ already died for them. The only sins that we must defeat are forgiven sins.

Your besetting sins are unique to you and your life before Christ. Christians fight the fight every day and eventually we defeat those sins that haunt us. We must daily make an effort for a focused attack on specific sins, with a kind of intentionality. God intends that part of our experience of becoming Christ-like be a conscious, willed opposition to specific sins in our lives.

We can accomplish that in our daily relationship with Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit. We pray, read scripture, we confess our sins (1 John1:9), we repent by changing our behavior. Christ is with you as you fight these sins, speak to him, lament to him, that is his longing - to know you more.

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