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. If you missed our set-up for part 1 of this 2 part entry, check it here to get you up to speed.
4 WAYS TO STOP UNSTOPPABLE SINS IN YOUR LIFE:
1. Hate it.
A pure hatred for what this sin is, is doing and is going to do is . The emotion of hate is powerful when in the right context When we bring Christ into the context of our sin we feel the need to be saved from it. In the case of unstoppable sins, when we bring our sins into the context of Christ, we feel the need to hate it.
Psalm 97:10 says,
"You who love the Lord, hate evil. He protect the lives of His Godly people and rescues them"
When you hate something, you are gripped with an emotion that is powerful. So channel that emotion towards the power of sin. Fight power with power. We have to feel the magnitude of our sin and be gripped by its stench and repulsed by it's actions. Sin turns healthy marriages into abusive and relationships. Sin turns good men into porn addicts. Sin takes trusted friends and turns them into hated enemies. If we pass over sin lightly with shallow applications of grace and flippant prayers of forgiveness—we will probably never get around to the serious vigilance required for killing it. Truly subduing sin requires properly resisting it.
So take a moment to stop and examine for a second that sin that you can't seem to beat. Really look at it, what it can do to you and how it will affect your relationship with God and your relationship with others. If you can't stop being offended, sin's most corrupt end-result of living offended...loneliness. If you can't stop looking at porn, sin's most corrupt end-result of continued porn in a marriage......divorce. So get mad, get angry and hate it...hate the sin that cleary hates you! In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis, says that “the surest means of disarming an anger or a lust (is) to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and start examining the passion itself.” Stopping unstoppable sins often requires this uncomfortable, honest reflection and acknowledgement on what the sin is doing within us.
2. Starve it.
I remember seeing the film, A Beautiful Mind. In this film Russell Crowe plays Nash, a brilliant mathematician who came up with the game theory of economics and won the Nobel Prize, decades later, in 1994. At age 31, he develops schizophrenia and suffers a mental breakdown. Imagine being diagnosed with schizophrenia and told that several of your friends aren't actually not real. He genuinely misses talking to them. So how does he deal with his battle of the mind ... he simply chooses to ignore them.
He says this in the film,
"I just choose not to acknowledge them. Like a diet of the mind, I just choose not to indulge certain appetites."
Even at the end of his life, he still sees the delusions, but they have lost their destructive power over him. What if you chose to put your mind on a diet. Choose today to not indulge. Choose today to not even acknowledge your sinful desires—starve them of your affections and your attention, and they grow weaker.
There is a similar principle at work in our struggle against sin—the more we indulge in it, the more of a grip it gains over us. But, as with any addiction, the less we feed it, the weaker it becomes. James says it well, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:7). I love this Scripture because it's not just, "DON'T DO" but right after those two words the next two are "DRAW NEAR." You need to not just to avoid but you must also take in. We would agree an unhealthy diet is to stop eating. That's anorexia. A healthy diet plan is to stop indulging what's unhealthy and fill up on what is good for you.
3. Corner it.
Sin, like any other evil enemy, thrives among its allies (bitterness, unforgiveness, discouragement, etc are some that come to mind). To wage effective war against sin, therefore, we must deprive it of the opportunities for it to gain strength with it's partners.
Most sin lives and lurks in environments where it gains strength from it's partners. Lust and deception go together. Unforgiveness and bitterness go together. Betrayel and mistrust work together. So remove the partner from it, corner it and don't let it escape. In other words when sin wants to find more strength from other areas of dysfunction in your life, then corner it so it can't strengthen itself. Isolate it and place it under the authority of Jesus so it can never return.
This means we need to study the particular triggers of sin in our lives. Most of the time it's a partnership of sinful emotions partnering with sinful habits. Lust is greatly weakened when it cannot appeal to fatigue, emotional need, loneliness and shame. It’s more difficult to succumb to envy when you’re soaking your heart in your heavenly inheritance. Sinful resentment often melts away when you are spending time with exceptionally kind, forgiving people. Basically, an effective fight against a unstoppable sins will often involve thoughtful consideration to your sleep, exercise, diet, emotional life and relationships.
4. Overwhelm it.
In the gospel, God has given us the resources that we need to deal with unstoppable sins. The first is patience. The gospel means that God has “perfect patience”for us even amidst our struggles with nagging sins. In the Bible, 1 Timothy 1:16 says,
"But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life."
To stop unstoppable sin in our lives, we need to know that God has not given up on us. Even when we have lost patience with ourselves, God is a patient father, always calling us back to Himself.
The second is grace. The Bible also says in Romans 5:20,
"As people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant."
If you feel like I can't stop it, this sin is too strong, God reminds us that to counter the growing strength of sin is an even more potent strength of grace that is growing to counter sins effect on you and in you. God knows what you need so let grace triumph!
Finally, God gives us power. The power to overcome unstoppable sins (2 Timothy 1:7). His Spirit gives us strength beyond ourselves with which to fight. His all-satisfying presence gives us the promise of a sustainable and lasting joy. However strong the unstoppable sins may seem, it is truly possible in Christ to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).