Besetting Sins

Q. When you say it’s impossible for us to not sin because of our sin nature, I’m assuming you are referring to bad motives, thoughts, anger etc., and the list goes on. Do besetting sins fall into the category of not being able to stop? Is there no victory for those who struggle with things like addictions? Are we doomed to continue to fail till Jesus comes? I just heard the testimony of a famous sportscaster who got saved and stopped drinking. He was bound to the point of being told his liver was failing. The man got saved and never touched alcohol again.

A. The term besetting sin comes from the King James translation of Hebrews 12:1 where it seems to describe any sin that we may be especially vulnerable to committing. The NIV translates it as “the sin that so easily entangles”.

I didn’t mean to imply that all addictions are besetting sins, or the fact that you’ve been battling something for years is evidence that you can’t over come it. Your example of the alcoholic sportscaster is a case in point. Nor are all besetting sins addictions. Any sin that we just can’t seem to conquer can be a besetting sin.

Finally, in Hebrews 12:1 the writer said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The phrase “great cloud of witnesses” refers to the great men and women of faith he recognized in Hebrews 11, and indicates that by drawing strength from the example of their faith, and with perseverance on our part, even besetting sins can be overcome. Reading Hebrews 12:2-3 will help us remember where our faith comes from so we will not lose heart.

In all this, it’s important to remember that all the sins of your life were forgiven at the cross, and when you asked to be saved, the Lord accepted you just as you are. He then counted the death of His son as payment in full for your sins so in His eyes you are now a new creation in Christ (2 cor. 5:17), with a righteousness from God that comes through faith to all who believe (Romans 3:21-24) and not because of our behavior. Conquering the sin in our life is our way of thanking Him for saving us.

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