The more that we learn of God’s great love and righteousness, the more we desire to be Christ-like in our own love and behavior. This is the journey of faith that all Christians pursue. However, salvation doesn’t guarantee a sin-free life. Even the strongest Christian will fail and sin. This isn’t due to lack of effort. But, is the human element – not one of us is perfect like Christ.
But this understanding shouldn’t omit us from pursuing a righteous life. The bible calls us to throw off everything that hinders us so that we can run the race that is set out for us by God. This is because we are not able to pursue a pure and righteous relationship with God when we are knowingly sinning against him. The bible is clear that sin leads to death. Although it may not be immediate or direct, your sin will catch up. Here are 12 ways that sin hinders your life and how to combat it now.
12 Ways SIN HINDERS YOUR LIFE
1. Guilt of Sin
We all know the feeling of guilt. We have done something that we know is wrong and the guilt comes. However, guilt over sin is for good reason. To pursue a righteous life, we have to be aware of the areas of sin in our life. Once identified, we work towards removing that sin. The trouble is when we sin – knowingly and intentionally.
Guilt is the inner alarm going off, letting us know that we’ve done wrong. Although we shouldn’t hold onto that guilt, we need to acknowledge when that feeling comes up and repent. To repent is to ask for forgiveness, make right (if possible) and to not repeat that mistake again.
As pastor Greg Laurie puts it, “There’s a difference between remorse and repentance. Remorse is being sorry for being caught. Repentance is being sorry enough to stop.”
2. Shame of Sin
Shame is another consequence of sin, that if we hold onto it, will certainly hinder our future. Note, that shame and guilt are different. As Brene Brown states, “guilt is – I’ve done bad – shame is – I am bad.” There’s a big difference. When we carry shame from past sins, we indirectly hinder our present and our future by not experiencing God’s grace and love for us. Shame can take you down two paths.
The first is to go introverted, thinking that you don’t deserve anything good or positive. You don’t branch out or challenge yourself – you stay small and try to be invisible. This is not the abundant life that Christ died to give you!
The other direction shame can take you is down a path of self-sabotage. This looks like promiscuous behavior, intentionally treating your mind/body poorly, etc. The idea behind this is that you deserve bad things. You feel like bad things always find you so you speed up the process and invite bad things in – at least that way, you feel like you have some sense of control. This is an active concept of Satan’s goal to steal, kill and destroy.
3. Eliminated Peace
Jesus is the prince of peace. He repeatedly encourages us to take up his yolk and his peace. A life without peace is volatile and uncomfortable. Sin robs us of peace, as we wrestle with the guilt and shame, but also with the concern that we could be caught or thought less of if others knew our struggle. When we repent from a sin and break the chain from that sin, we are free! That freedom gives us peace. We are no longer bound by that sin. The opposite is true as well. When we let sin keep us bound, we allow it to also take our peace. A lack of peace is stress, anger, worry, etc. All things that can impact mental and physical health.
4. Natural Consequences of Sin
When if comes to sin hindering your life, it’s not that God cannot or will not forgive us, it’s that natural consequences will take its course. Just as gravity takes its effect when a ball is thrown in the air, there are natural consequences for doing wrong. Addiction to drugs will take its toll on the body. Promiscuous sex can lead to an unplanned pregnancy. Walking into rush hour traffic could result in a fatality. There is always an outcome to the actions you take today. Keeping a leg on both sides of the fence will catch up. Natural consequences are a very direct example of how sin hinders your life.
James Nicodem puts it like this, “Sin will take you where you didn’t plan to go. It will keep you there longer than you planned to stay. And it will cost you more than you intended to pay.”
5. Hinder Future Blessings
John MacArther says, “Obedience is the only validation of your salvation. It is the only possible proof that you really recognize the lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Christ came so that we can have life and have it abundantly. However, the bible is clear when it comes to principles, such as stewardship, that if you don’t handle your current status well, it shows God that you are not ready for the next step. When we are obedient and apply God’s promptings in our life, he will bless us and continue to guide us. But if we refuse to submit an area of life, he will be patient with us, until we do so. Your sin could be hindering future blessings! Get out of God’s way and allow him to guide you!
6. Separates You From God
God will never leave us. That is in his word, therefore, it’s truth. However, when we sin, we tend to unintentionally place a wedge between us and God. Just like when you intentionally and knowingly wrong a friend, it gets a little difficult to look them in the eye. When it comes to our relationship with God, we tend to linger a more and more in the distance, for we know that coming closer will cause us to have to confront our sin. This is why when you’re on a bad path, you tend to look around and wonder where God is at. Truth is, you have left God and he’s waiting for you to return to him. God doesn’t leave us. We leave God.
7. Harmful Justifications of Sin
Steven Furtick has this amazing sermon called, “Not So Small.” In this, he talks about how the Israelites were never meant to have a “king”, but because of the war they were in, they got scared and called on David to be the king. Steven says, “at what point does our protection of ourselves turn into a sin against God?”
So true. There are times that we blame our sin on our stress, current circumstances, fear of being hurt, etc. These are just excuses, these are not reasons to sin. Drugs, drinking excessively, etc. – these are not the antidotes to stress. That’s just an excuse! And these excuses can be dangerous. Do yourself a favor and be realistic with your sin. Don’t let excuses continue to allow sin to hinder your life.
8. Postponed Progress
Similar to number 5, when we continue to sin, we post-pone the progress that we should be making. Consider the Israelites who were in the wilderness for 40 years. It took them 40 years to travel what should have taken day….DAYS!! This delay was all because they refused to turn from their sin and follow God. Do NOT make yourself wait 40 years for the progress you so desperately want. Also, recognize that even though knocking it out of the park in areas 1, 2 and 3 – if you’re sinning and denying God’s leadership in area 4 – you will still be postponed.
9. Disappointment of Sin
There is something so strong about the human spirit. It can carry and individual through traumatic times and, if broken, can remove hope and courage. When we sin, whether we’re ready to admit it or not, we disappoint ourselves. That’s because we know that we’re doing wrong. Even if we justify it in the moment – once the action has passed, we’re left with the truth – we gave in, again. This discouragement can make us feel poorly about ourselves and lose confidence that we can ever be free from our sin.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
10. Pain to Ourselves and Others
Let’s not look over the obvious – sin comes from Satan – Satan’s goal is to kill, steal and destroy. All sin will cause pain, whether it is directly to you or someone else. Many times, our sin will spill over into others’ lives – directly or indirectly. Maybe your sin is anger towards someone – direct. Maybe it’s a personal addiction that could shorten your lifespan – indirect. Our sin is not limited to causing us pain. When we choose to sin, we’re not only saying that we don’t care about ourselves, but that we also don’t care about others.
11. Creating Bad Habits
A life is a culmination of habits – some good, some bad. Sinning creates unhelpful and dangerous habits in our life. Once a habit forms, it’s incredibly difficult to break. In the words of John Calvin, “True repentance is firm and constant, and makes us war with the evil that is in us, nor for a day or a week, but without end and without intermission.” Knowing how difficult bad habits are to break, it’s wise to not let them form. When you recognize a destructive pattern in your life, quickly redirect and avoid forming a bad habit. They say it’s 21 days to break a habit but 90 days to change the mindset. That’s a LOT of time spent undoing something that shouldn’t have started from the beginning. Be wise with the habits you employ in your life.
12. Hinders Prayer Life
Again, God is a forgiving God and a patient God. He will never turn away from you. He will always be opened armed for you. Something interesting is that throughout scripture, we see how disobedience can hinder your prayer life. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Have you ever prayed the “help me get out of this one” prayer before? God doesn’t always answer that, especially if the motives are wrong. Or, in Psalm 66:18, it says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” Our obedience to God is out of reverent fear. We respect and love who he is – that should be enough for us to turn away from the sin that only hurts us and others.
How to Combat Sin
1. Awareness and admittance
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a person observing their natural face in a mirror; for they observe themself, go away, and immediately forgets what kind of person they were.” James 1:22-24
To fight sin, we first need to recognize it in our lives. Sin comes in various forms. It’s not limited to the physical: hurting someone, stealing, drugs, gluttony, etc. Sin can also be in the mind: envy, lust, anger, unforgiveness. Once recognized, we need to be really honest with ourself and admit that we are sinning in whatever way.
2. Let the Word guide your development
Reading God’s word consistently will give insight into where we are falling short. God’s word can act like a mirror to point out areas in our personal life that need changing. God’s word will also motivate your and instruct you on how to live a more righteous life.
2 Peter 1:3-4 states, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
3. Take up your authority
Jesus has already defeated the grave. God has empowered us to take on the enemy and know that we are conquerors. You do not need to live this lifetime thinking that you are weak or not able. The same power that enabled Jesus to beat the grave is within you!
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:19-20
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalms 73:26
4. Be logical: you reap what you sow
We’ve talked through natural consequences. We’ve also addressed the number of other consequences of sin. At its core, sin is death. When we engage in sin, we are opening the door to death. This could come in many forms. Again, remember the devil’s agenda is to steal, kill and destroy. All of this is done through sin. Do not kid yourself, thinking that you can dabble in sin and still maintain a righteous life – you can’t. Sin will always catch up to you.
As Paul wrote, “Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, that’s what you’ll reap. The one who sows to the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. The one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:7-8).
5. Spiritual maturity
Let the word be your guide, apply what it says and strive for righteousness daily. Titus 2:12 says God is “Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” The more refined your faith becomes, the more you will be able to call out the sin in your life. Faith is like a muscle; it takes fatigue and work to make it stronger and bigger. Your battle with sin will not be easy, but you will become stronger and stronger with time.
Check out these other articles to help you on your journey of fighting sin and staying on God’s path.