What are besetting sins, you ask? Each of us have sins with which we struggle. You know, it’s those sins that you try to stop, put away; but they keep resurfacing, keep showing up in your life.
Today, on my 4-mile walk, I was listening to a sermon by Pastor John Piper, Our Deepest Prayer: Hallowed Be Your Name. In his introduction, he talks about his leave of absence from which he is just returning. Its purpose was to do a spiritual reality check or assessment; it was in this, that he lists his besetting sins. I believe he named five.
This made me wonder whether we know and identify our besetting sins? If we don’t identify them, how can we fight them or put them to death as the Apostle Paul tells us to in Colossians 3:5?
In another place, Hebrews 12:1 puts it this way:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,…” Hebrews 12:1a KJV
To fight, and put to death the sins that so easily beset us require us to identify the sin. We do know the sin(s) that continues to trip us up. Our only way to lay it aside is not only to desire to never do it again, but admitting or confessing it to God. God knows every sin we commit. There is no need to hide them from him. Remember Psalm 39 says that he is acquainted with all our ways. I John 1:9 states:
“If we confess our sins, he if faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 ESV
But, confessing them is not enough. We also must not make any provision for flesh.
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:4 ESV
We must put off and put on. Put off lying, (even so-called little white lies), selfishness, self-protection, idolatry, laziness, pride, filthy communication, sexual immorality, and put on the new self, that is renewed by the word of God. The new self has character traits of kindness, humility, obedience, compassionate, and gracious speech seasoned with salt which are found in Christ.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV
How else can we know that we are proving that good, acceptable and perfect will of God, lest we see sin’s hold on us diminishing?
I admire Pastor John Piper for his transparency with his congregation in this article discussing his upcoming leave, John Piper’s Upcoming Leave.
He ends his letter with these words:
“Personally, I view these months as a kind of relaunch of what I hope will be the most humble, happy, fruitful five years of our 35 years at Bethlehem and 46 years of marriage. Would you pray with me to that end? And would you stand by your church with all your might? May God make these eight months the best Bethlehem has ever known. It would be just like God to do the greatest things when I am not there. “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (I Corinthians 3:7).
God, in his word provides us his best counsel, which says that we should be accountable to one another. This accountability helps us to stay on track, provides partners with us in prayer to God for our strength.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16 ESV
Actually, I had not heard of men openly admitting their frailties until I arrived at my current church. In fact, that was something very new to me, to hear members confessing their struggle with their sins.
Do you know your besetting sins? Besides confessing to God, do you have someone in your life with whom you can confess to help you in your walk in putting to death your struggle with this sin? Pride, a tool of the enemy, will do everything to deter us from doing this.
However, hearing this sermon, and seeing it lived out in my congregation has greatly encouraged me. We, who are believers in Christ Jesus, have him as our Righteousness. When we stand before God, it will be in Christ alone; yet, we are still called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and that does include putting to death our sin. We are empowered by the Spirit of God to do it. We must use the means that God has clearly laid out in his word.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 ESV