There is a difference between someone who wants to do what is right, but struggles and stumbles, and a person who doesn’t care and sins to please self. It’s not a distinction in offense for godly people have done some terrible deeds. David committed adultery and murder, and Peter lied about knowing Christ. Neither does it involve the possible effect of sin. The “good” kid, who’s never tasted alcohol before, but gives in to the pressure to drink and drive the first time, is just as dangerous as the one who does it all the time.
The main difference is in one’s heart and hope for doing better. A person motivated to be right and do right he has a much better chance of turning his life to God. God described King David as a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22) By reading the Psalms of David you get a glimpse of just how much he love God. Peter went out and wept bitterly after he denied the Lord three times. (Matt. 26:75) On the other hand, the Jewish leadership had no hope because they renounced Jesus. They did not want to believe Him because Satan had filled their heart. (John 8:42-45)
Sin is a destructive and progressive force when allowed to fill one’s life. (2 Tim. 3:13) David and Peter responded quickly in remorse for their sin. They did not deny or excuse their offense, nor did their sin become habitual. If we are not careful, evil has a way of becoming a compulsive behavior. (Gen. 6:5) People may develop a pattern of thinking or repetitive action that become difficult to overcome. (Heb. 6:4-6) It’s possible to become psychologically and emotionally addicted to sin’s pleasure. We may also turn to evil to mask other problems in our lives. Alcohol and drugs do all of this. Sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, and pornography, can fall into this category. People may develop a vain sense of superiority by tearing down others in pride, selfishness, gossip. It’s sad that some people feel good about themselves only when they disparage others.
It is hard to change and do better when sin controls our thoughts and actions. (2 Tim. 3:1-7) Paul describes people who have no self-control over their lusts. He says that they are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” He talks about women “loaded down with sin, led away by various lusts.” Clearly, people like this will find it difficult to change because evil consumes them. That is what sin does; it makes us comfortable and happy with an evil life-style.
Sins can also sear the conscience to a point where once objectionable acts become agreeable. (1 Tim. 4:1-3) Abortion and homosexuality fall into this category, as do lying, cheating, and profanity. People relax their position on indecency and sexual impurity because they’re so widely accepted by society. We have come to expect these acts on television, in the movies, and from our neighbors, and so we’re not “shocked” by them anymore. Christians need to take care to never become comfortable with sin. A searing of the conscience begins with a softening position on evil.
When we develop a compulsive behavior of sin, it’s usually not long before we excuse our conduct. People find a way to console and convince themselves that their sin is not so bad. If we find pleasure in wrong doing it’s much easier to believe the lies of evil. The nature of sin is it lies to us and we believe it. (2 Thess. 2:9-12)
Even if you want to do better, it is hard to break the cycle of habitual sin. That is why everyone needs to take care about what they do, and never allow evil to get a foothold. Many of the early Christians came from paganism, a life-style that encouraged all manner of immorality. It was a concern addressed by the inspired writers. (1 Peter 4:1-3) It is a lot easier to never begin a bad habit than it is to stop one.
Another reason sin is so invasive has to do with the influence of others. The bible warns us not to put ourselves in precarious positions. Choose your friends wisely and don’t hang around those who tempt you. (2 Cor. 6:14-18) Even secular wisdom understands this principle. Drug and alcohol abuse counselors tell their patients to avoid people who use these substances and locations where they’re available. (1 Cor. 15:33) If a person has trouble with fornication then he should stay away from places and people who tempt him. It is much better to find Christian friends who will help you succeed than it is to be around worldly people who want you to fail.
Have you ever noticed that if you are trying to quit something it seems as if the matter is always on your mind? You think about how great it use to feel and how much fun you use to have. You become much more aware of people doing what you want to stop doing. It is hard to get away from the problem. That’s the devil’s way of testing your resolve and patience. The solution is to focus your mind on good and wholesome thoughts. (Phil. 4:8)
Even though it is hard to quit something that’s ingrained in your life, I don’t want to leave the impression there is no hope. People stop doing bad things all the time and for reasons less noble than pleasing God. With God’s help you can overcome anything. (1 Cor. 10:13) Nothing less than total resolve will defeat ingrained sin. Patience and long-suffering enable us to endure to the end. You must respect God’s Word and seek His help by prayer. Seek out and trust faithful Christians to aid your effort. Remember, it’s worth the fight to triumph over sin because the reward is heaven. Terry Starling