If you are a believer, you agree that sin is a part of human nature and the battle with sin is not discussed as honestly and openly as it could be. Because the theological discussion which rotates between works and grace and back again, has settled back on grace, believers have shied away from honest discussion about combating our sin nature. Can we get back to admitting both grace and works are vital to our Christian walk? Can we admit that our works will not save us AND at the same time, there are people who REALLY struggle with sin and must change behaviors and practice obedience rather than justify their sin because the struggle against it is so great and overwhelming?
This all from experience. I have realized that my codependent behavior keeps me in a sin cycle that I cannot change without being completely honest about my disobedience and through making steps to be emotionally healed. My codependent behavior includes: people pleasing, changing myself to justify other people’s actions, supporting people with destructive behavior, trying to be other people’s Holy Spirit, and compromising many of my values to satisfy my sin nature and others. I find myself in this cycle constantly, especially when I am least aware but sometimes I make these decisions while being completely aware of what I am doing.
This specific sin cycle problem is not everyone’s problem, although I believe that most people, if they are honest with themselves about their sin, can relate to this cycle. But this is specific to people who have a history of addiction or have been at any point in their lives an enabler to an addict. 1. The cycle begins with a thought or physical prompting. 2. Next is compromising because we think that we have it under control or will stop it before it becomes bad. 3. Finally, we make an ultimate or big sin that we regret and brings us back to repentance. The point that I am making is that the final sin is not the problem, but the initial thought and compromises that lead to the sin that brings us to repentance.
3 Ways to Combat our Sin-Cycle
- Acknowledge our unique and specific sin-cycle.
When we find ourselves convicted of a sin, we must take some time to reflect on how we got there. We did not fall magically into another destructive relationship. We took steps, we compromised, we thought, “This time it will be different.” or “I’ll be strong this time.” or maybe we thought subconsciously, “I can change him or her; they have so much potential.”
We didn’t teleport into another bar where we made bad decisions. We had a hard day. We were good for such a long time that, “I deserve this.” We just couldn’t deal anymore.
We constantly make decisions that move us towards God or away from God. The grace part of this is that God can work on any step of this path. We are NEVER too far from God’s grace and His ability to change the whole path. At any part of this cycle, we can turn our attention back to Him, ask Him to redeem and save us from our sins AND He can and will provide a way out.
But the works part of this conversation is the knowing that there is a problem that started way before the ultimate sinful act which is what is prompting us to repentance.
2. Repent of the first thoughts that led to the cycle.
Once we get to a point where we admit that the ultimate action that we made that caused us to regret our behavior, and we finally realize that we have been through this same cycle a million times before then we can fully acknowledge and repent of ignoring the Holy Spirit’s promptings and going our own way.
If the sin is sexual in nature, what is the first thought that you have before any action occurs? Maybe it is something like, “I am lonely.” “I deserve this.” “He is she is nice.” “It’s okay.” “It will be different this time.” “I will stop it before it goes any further.” or something even deeper in the realm of “Well, God’s plan didn’t work out for me before, so why should I wait on Him this time?”
The addiction side can be very similar. It may start with a feeling, that longing in our chest for something to satisfy us. It may have started with a bad day or month or year. It may have started with the pride that we have gone a long period of time without and this time we know we can handle it; it will be different this time.
This is why Jesus told us that to even look at a woman with lust is the same as adultery, to pluck our eyes out, or cut off our hand. He knew that the initial thought is just as powerful as the act. Jesus knew that this thought, when justified and fanned, will grow into an action.
3. Relinquish control of our sin cycle
After we we repent of the thoughts and actions that led to our repeated sin-cycle, we must include us admitting to God that we are powerless to defeat it. When Jesus talked about cutting off our hand or plucking our own eyes out, he is saying that the ONLY way, outside of His power, that we can stop ourselves from sinning is by going to these extreme measures.
I have tried to isolate myself from ALL people in order to keep myself from my sin cycle. I have tried to have self control and to change myself. I have tried to change my environment and get angry with myself from continuing the cycle again… but nothing ever changes because it is ME who is trying to change myself and my surroundings. My heart hasn’t changed. I still desire the same destructive behavior. I can go a short time with self-control but after a while, the desire for sin is too much, and I crumble. My sin nature desires fulfillment through chaos and it can’t go very long without being satisfied.
Within our own power, the only way that we can cut off sin is by trying to control it, but how much more can change when we daily acknowledge that we are powerless against our sin nature and ask God to change our hearts and desires for us. God is asking to be a part of our decisions. The obedience comes when we relinquish our power over sin to the God who overcame it and this is a daily surrender of our thoughts.
Thank You for bringing me to a point in my life where I have to acknowledge my sin-cycle. I am at a point of no return. I have seen the fruit of my bad decisions and want to repent of all the steps that I have taken that are compromises and have led me away from You. I ultimately repent of the initial thoughts that began the cycle again. You know that I am incapable of making the changes myself. I ask you to heal me from the inside out. Heal those broken parts of me that want to compromise for destructive people, be a people-pleaser, and compromise my values for my fear of letting someone down or pleasing myself. Bring about a change the way that only You know how. Help me to be obedient in relinquishing control to this cycle every day and not fall into the lie that once it has started that it can’t stop. You are capable of bringing about change at any time and it can bring about a real change in my life as I begin to relinquish control. I cannot do this by myself. Please, take over!