The sins that beset and the passion that stirs paralyze the people of God
Besetting sins and stirring passions paralyze the Body of Christ and prevent it from fulfilling its true purpose and destiny on earth. For most of it, she has been oblivious to the reality that it is the little foxes that spoil the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). It is not uncommon for those who believe they are serving God with all their heart and soul to miss the mark of God’s high calling in Christ. This is more often because they have given themselves over to the sins that beset them and the passions that stir them.
In 2 Peter 1:3-4 we read that “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him.” It further says: “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may partake of the divine nature and escape the moral decadence of this world.”
This world is morally bankrupt and shamelessly indulges in the most corrupt and horrible acts of perversion and violence in the history of the world. When you consider the corruption in the world today that leads not only to evil desires, but also to evil deeds, these are promises that must be claimed and deeply considered in meditation and prayer.
This day of moral decay demands that we cling to the lifeline of God’s Word as our only hope of survival. It really would not be an exaggeration to say that the Word of God is, in fact, the best hope this generation has for surviving and overcoming in a morally corrupt world.
We must consider the sins and passions of God’s people
When considering the pervasive level of filth and corruption in the world, few would think that the sins and passions of God’s people would even come close to the sins of those who are propagating or participating in this level of crime and wickedness. We would not expect a born-again Christian finance officer to embezzle money from the company that employs him. Nor would we ever believe that Christians would be involved in prostitution or selling young women as sex slaves. It is doubtful that a Christian would wander the streets at night looking for a car to steal and sell for money to support his ongoing and growing crack addiction.
While all Christians are tempted by their adversary, the devil, to go beyond the expected limits of justice, most Christians would flee from temptation. Some may have gone that far. If so, the depth of your commitment to Christ and His Word needs to be questioned and closely examined.
True Christians should not be expected to be saints. There is an expectation that they will be tempted and seduced by the devil to engage in illicit conduct. Most will resist these diabolical seductions. The little foxes that finally catch them are the sins of their flesh. Their heavenly vocation and commitment are often sabotaged by their besetting sins and stirring passions.
For the purposes of clarity, a besetting sin is anything that moves us toward our own carnal inclinations and away from God’s calling and purposes for our lives. To mention a few, some are given to gluttony, others to sexual passions, others watch television or play video games incessantly, and others can waste hours and hours of the day on the Internet or on social networks. The list, of course, is endless.
Most have no idea that there is anything wrong with what they do. In fact, by the world’s standards, their besetting sins and agitating passions are legal and everyone is involved with them. Why should they refrain from these pleasures in their lives?
I suppose that nothing would be inherently wrong with most of these activities if they were not done in excess. The problem arises if their indulgence takes them away from their call to fully follow Christ. The litmus test of whether a besetting sin or stirring passion can be considered a threat to God’s call on a person’s life is this: Can they leave everything and follow Christ alone? If the answer is no, then they really are trapped in their own sins and passions. His heart is divided and his commitment is weak. Your indulgence in these self-centered passions is too demanding. Despite your best efforts and God’s saving grace, these sins seem to defy all efforts to overcome them. That is if there is the will to overcome them. These problems often have deep roots in the soul and can cause a lot of pain at the heart level.
Understand that a committed Christian does not have to be a monk. He must also not be a junk food addict, a chronic gambler, a holy drinker or a media addict. Scripture demands that we be most anxious to secure (ratify, strengthen, make firm) our calling and election; because if you do this, you will never stumble or fall (2 Peter 1:10).
A Presbyterian minister in the early 1900s, TL Cuyler, described the seriousness of the sins and passions of the soul this way: “A Christian is never secure, never strong, never true to Christ, unless he is constantly taking over every sinful and selfish passion, and forcing it into unconditional surrender.” The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I beat my body and put it in bondage.” Both men describe an act of violent exercise of moral force to overcome and compel their besetting sins and agitating passions into submission.
The demands of the Scriptures for a saint to keep himself pure from moral corruption and the dangers of hounding sins and stirring passions have been emphasized up to this point in this writing. In Philippians 2:12 we read that we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” We must not forget that the New Testament freed us from the demands of the law. In fact, “Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be justice for everyone who believes” (Romans 10: 4). Therefore, while we must realize that we must take decisive action to free ourselves from our besetting sins and our stirring passions, we must also understand that we are not alone in the effort.
Christ came to free us from the sins and passions of our flesh
Our Heavenly Father knew from the beginning of time that freedom and freedom from these besetting sins and besetting passions cannot be achieved by our own efforts. That is why he sent Jesus to give his life on the cross so that we could be freed from the clutches of these sins of the soul.
If while reading this article you felt the Spirit gently nudging you or if you felt overwhelmed with the need to get out of a debilitating sin that you have nurtured for far too long, it is time to do something about it. My next article will address practical steps you can take to help yourself find freedom from the things you do that cripple your walk with Christ.
From a spiritual perspective, to begin your quest for freedom from the sins and passions of your soul, you must commit your efforts to God in prayer. Confess your powerlessness to free yourself from these sins and passions. Confess your inability to master these sins in your life. Acknowledge your desire to walk with Him in spirit and in truth. Come to Him with a sincere heart. He will never reject a repentant sinner who comes to Him asking for mercy to be set free.