Becoming a Recovering Sinner
Trying to live a holy life is a complex proposition. It is not as simple as deciding to obey a few rules and then doing it.
While temptation may change its aspect or approach us from a different angle, it never goes away. It is like driving a car. Whenever you drive a car, you are continually subjecting yourself to the risk of an accident. In the same way, just by going through life, you are continually subject to temptation.
Every day, we are an invitation for temptation. The temptations we give in to reveal our peculiar weaknesses. Then they produce the sin symptoms that comprise our particular diagnosis at a particular time.
It would be easier to resist temptation if sin were not so attractive. With most sins, we are not talking about something that seems awful; we are talking about something that could potentially feel wonderful. Many times, to do the wrong thing is more agreeable than to do the right thing. So even though we know that the right thing is best for us in the long run, we choose the fleeting pleasures of sin anyway. It is only when we realize the true destructiveness of sin that we are willing to seek change.
A complete cure for sin will come only at our glorification after death. In this life we will never stop struggling with sin—we will never entirely settle the matter.
Yet there is cause for hope. Salvation opens the doors to God’s resources, and so the Spirit can substantially defeat sin for us in this life as we obey God’s commands.
Remember this: we can get to a point where we never again repeat a sin that was once a regular habit for us. It really is possible to win over a sin. We may never be free from the temptation again, and we likely will fail God again in another way later on. But as we deal with our sins one after another, we can experience victories over each of them in turn and over time raise our level of holiness. You can get past your sin, even if the possibility of slipping back into it never quite goes away.
It is a mystery why some people struggle with certain sins. Equally, it is a mystery why some people have an easier time than others in leaving sins behind. Sometimes God immediately takes a sinful desire away, while at other times He lets us struggle against the desire. In every case we can be confident that it is His will for us to resist temptation and that He is present with us to help us in remaining pure.
Be not proud of yourself. Neither be hopeless, since God is at hand. Prayerfully, develop a list of your sin symptoms in your mind through prayer and self-reflection, then plan to treat them all through the power of the Spirit. Perhaps you will add to your list later as you learn more about yourself, but for now the list gives you places to start.
To help you in your struggle against sin, we would like to give you a way of mentally organizing the universe of sins.