I wish when you repented of a particular sin, it was gone forever. Never to return. I felt that way about the toilet swirl in my bathroom.
When I was little I flushed a lot of things down the toilet. There were many times I would rip toilet paper and make them into small boats that would meet their imminent doom. I would pretend that "ominous swirl" was a "whirlpool of death" that would devour toilet paper boats, popsicle sticks, my green army men, an action figure or two, hot wheel cars, etc...never to be seen again.
Unless it was too big.
Then I had a choice to either force-feed this porcelain monster a second time or dry my tortured items off for future play. Sometimes my mom would come in and find some of these fun items floating lifelessly in this germ-saturated abyss. I guess what I thought was gone forever had a way of not staying gone for long.
Sin has a way of not staying away for long.
When you repent, Jesus does remove it as the east is from the west. But for some sins, when you think it's gone, you find yourself dealing with it again. Repentance is normal for a Christian. But after a few days, weeks or months you suddenly faced with that reality that some sins are harder to get rid of than others. What you thought you flushed away is floating back to the surface again.
The Bible describes sin as a ruthless, defiant force in our lives:
Sin deceives you (Genesis 3:13)
Sin desires you (Genesis 4:7)
Sin destroys you (Genesis 6:7)
Sin wages war over you (Romans 7:23)
Sin entices you(James 1:14)
Sin entangles you (Hebrews 12:1)
Many of us struggle with those seemingly "unstoppable sins” —those entrenched, persistent, difficult-to-dislodge sins that continually bug us as we do our best to follow Christ.
The gospel gives us hope that ALL sin, even our unstoppable sins, can be both forgiven and subdued. But because sin has such persistence and power, we got to be vigilant in our struggle against it. Since sin is so vicious (the Bible says the wages of sin is death) then why would we expect such a comfortable and easy battle with it? If sin's purpose is to fight us to the death then we have to have the same tenacity to fight sin to the death.
The truth is our hope is in Jesus. What we think is unbeatable or unstoppable is beatable and stoppable because of Christ's work on the cross (1 John 1:9).
So why do some sins persist and harass us after we confess?
Let's break this down. There are 3 parts to how we are made as human beings. We have a body, soul and spirit. This is true according to the Bible:
"Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way and my your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23
Your Spirit is your connection to God. It's your ability to receive and connect with God. It's the part of you that communes with God. It's the part of you that speaks to God. It's the part of you that hears from God (Psalms 104:29; James 2:26; Ecclesiastes 12:7).
Your soul is different. It's separated from your spirit. Even the Bible talks about the soul and spirit being distinctly different pieces of your spiritual design (Hebrews 4:12). Your soul is basically who you are—your mind, your emotion, and your will. But the function of your soul is to express God. Mary did this when her "soul magnified the Lord" (Luke 1:46-47). Your soul is your mind, will and emotions. It's you being you in the world.
Your body is just that. Not much to explain here other than God made you...and He made you unique (Psalm 139).
We are a spirit being, we live in a body and we possess a soul. Period. The person inside of us is our spirit. Our soul consists of our mind, will and emotions. Our bodies are obviously what we live in while we are here on earth.
Here's what happens at salvation:
First, at salvation your spirit is made new. It's pure and it begins a constant and unbreakable communion with God that can never be impure again (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:2-6; Ezekiel 36:26, 11:19). This new connection is how you connect and relate to your creator.
Second, at salvation, your soul begins transformation. In other words, the day after your salvation, you may still have a bad thought, make bad choices and have a bad propensity towards certain things. As your spirit is connecting to God and you are hearing Him speak and direct your life, your mind begins to think more like Christ, you become more aware and start living a self-controlled life, your unhealthy choices start become more spiritually healthy (you want to start reading the Bible, you long for your next church service so you can pray, you start singing worship songs on your own because you long for the presence of God, etc).
At salvation, your body is still experiencing the effects of sin. You will still get a cold, get sick, experience sickness and disease. You may receive a miracle from God and get healed at your salvation experience as well. That is not a guarantee but can happen and has happened with some Christians. But the good news is, day after day, your bodily breakdowns become a prayer moment for you to draw closer to God for you to experience supernatural power of healing in your body.
So here's what happens throughout your Christian life:
Your spirit continues to connect to, give to and receive from God through daily Bible reading, prayer, church, etc. You begin to hear God's voice more and you begin to have revelation on the plans and purposes for your life that God is showing you.
Second, your soul is being transformed bay by day to be more like Christ. You begin to change way you think about others, how you see your job, how you lead your family, etc. Your soul (mind, will and emotions) are being refined daily as you spend time in His presence, as you learn to think like Him and behave like Him and love like Him (1 Peter 1:22-23; Romans 12:1-2). Over time as you get closer to God, your bad thoughts, negative emotions and unhealthy choices will become less and less. You are reading the Bible more and more, you crave worship more and more, you long to serve and bless others more and more, etc. When you arrive in heaven, your soul becomes brand new and you will fully be alive as you see and experience the true and unhindered revelation of Christ.
Third, your body will continue to decay because or sin. Sickness and disease will continue to infect our world but we will experience miracles along the way and healings along the way. God will restore, preserve and sustain you along your faith journey through prayer times, altars at church, miraculous moments where God does a restorative miracle. But you won't receive your new body till heaven and that's when it becomes brand new just like your spirit and soul ... never to experience the decay of sin ever again. It's not until we finally get to heaven that we are promised a new body that will be congruent with our new spirit and purified soul (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). We can experience heaven on earth with our bodies when God chooses to heal our bodies but our complete healing comes in heaven.
That unbeatable sin seems unbeatable because you know that God is right and sin is wrong. You know He is pure. You know He is true. You believe He is all you need. But your soul - the part of you that knows and believes you need this, is in process or in "transformation mode." It is not fully there yet. Your soul is caught in a tug of war. You know you need to choose God but you crave the old pleasures of that old life that you gave to Jesus when you died to self on the cross. So in a moment of weakness, you "give in" and choose wrong. Your sprit that is connected to God knows this and you sense and feel the conviction of this in your soul and the affects of this choice in your body.
Your soul is not fully transformed in this area of sin yet so you will screw up from time to time. This doesn't mean you don't love God or that your salvation isn't secure (because nothing can separate you from the love of Christ according to Romans 8:31-39). It just means there is a part of your life that is unfinished where God is working out your salvation (Philippians 2:12). This incongruent moment when you love God but you long for something or someone else other than God is when we face that sin and it appears unstoppable. It seems unstoppable because you've prayed and ask God to forgive you but you do it anyhow.
The Bibke speaks about this in Romans 7:21-25
Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
God understands. God gets it.
But it still is eomotionally and spiritually draining.
Here's the good news: You can stop an unstoppable sin.
Here's 4 ways to stop unstoppable sin.
Part 2 is next...