Do you know your besetting sin? Mine is not yours and yours is not mine, but we all have them. You know the one…the thing that is constantly getting you off course. The sin you confess and forsake only to find yourself needing to repent again. It is what you run to as a refuge when weary or weak instead of running to Christ.

Sometimes the hardest thing we all have to do is simply identify it. Then the battle really begins.

The primary passage that addresses besetting sins is Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” What can we learn from this verse?

  1. If we have a race to run we have a besetting sin to deal with. It is part of having a sin nature. Early in life flesh patterns begin to be developed. Unholy habits. Sins of a lifetime usually begin in youth.
  2. If we are going to run our race effectively we will have to lay aside our besetting sin. Like the runner chasing victory it is impossible to run while encumbered and distracted with other things.
  3. If we are going to lay aside our besetting sin we will also have to lay side the weights connected to them. Sin always has a context, or should we say a pretext. Something precedes disobedience. Often those things are not bad in themselves. (This is why they are so easy to excuse!) But if you want to avoid sin then you have to avoid the place of temptation. If you want to conquer a bad habit then you have to make it hard on yourself to continue it. Weights are what make it possible for that sin to “so easily beset us.” Anything, anyone, any place that draws us from Christ and prompts us to sin is the enemy.
  4. If we are going to lay aside besetting sin and weight we must do so intentionally. “Let us lay aside.” God will not do this for you. No one else is responsible. There must be a decision of the will – consciously and constantly to avoid those things that detour us from God’s purpose.

Puritan pastor John Owen suggested these steps to conquer what he called a “prevailing sin”:

  • Affect your mind with the danger and guilt of it.
  • Pray for deliverance.
  • Treasure up every warning from Scripture related to your temptation.
  • While working and watching against that sin, beware of others slipping in.

Owen wrote, “In your perplexities as to the power of sin, exercise faith…there is a power in God, through Christ, for the subduing and conquering of it.” Praise God – the only sin not conquered is the one not brought under Christ’s control!

I have been thinking much about my besetting sin in recent days. If you had asked me a few years ago what it was I would have given a different answer. As you grow older and grow in the faith God begins to reveal more of your deceitful heart to you. I believe that the besetting sin of my life is forgetfulness. Not the absent minded forgetfulness of little things or lesser things, but the intentional, sinful forgetfulness that gives way to so much other sin.

So easily I forget God’s goodness and mercy to me. So easily I forget the painful consequences of sin. So easily I forget the holy vows I make to God. So easily I forget what the Lord has taught me through His Word. And that wicked forgetfulness is the garden that every unholy thing can grow in.

Pray for me that God will help me to have my holy memory stirred. And ask the Lord to reveal your besetting sin. Perhaps it will be the same sin, or something totally different. By God’s grace, let’s determine to lay aside besetting sins and move forward with Jesus in the days ahead.


Enjoying the Journey

Enjoying the Journey exists to evangelize the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ, encourage pastors and local churches, and equip believers to walk with God and serve Him each day. Through audio, video, and print resources we are seeking to preach the gospel, teach the Word of God, and reach this generation for Christ.

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