We’ve all experienced what the Bible calls conviction— that “nudging” by the Holy Spirit, that heaviness of conscience, as God calls on us to change our ways. But what happens when we choose not to obey the promptings of God? Many Christians have wondered, “Will the Holy Spirit continue to lead me if I keep on sinning?”
Let’s be clear: All Christians continue to sin. 1John 1:9 was written to Christians and it promises God’s forgiveness to those who confess their sins. Scripture teaches that a born-again person doesn’t lose salvation if they commit a sin. But the Bible is clear that while we may struggle with temptations, weaknesses, and sins, Christ’s followers must not willingly and repeatedly yield to them.
The consequences of choosing to habitually sin include:
- Loss of intimacy with God,
- interruption of progress in our spiritual growth,
- anemia in our prayer life, and
- a diminished ability to understand and apply God’s Word (if one is reading their Bible at all).
When a person has resisted the overtures of the Lord over a period of time, the New Testament speaks of their conscience (or heart) becoming “calloused.” The Biblical words used to compare this to tissue in the body that is “dull” or unresponsive to feelings, such as, fat around the heart or intestines (Psalm 17:10; 119:70). The longer we remain in a state of disobedience, the more our ability to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice will be impaired (see Matthew 13:15; Mark 6:52; Ephesians 4:17-19).
Habitual sin can also bring bitter consequences. In relationships it can cause hurt feelings, loss of trust and respect, and many other emotional and personal repercussions. There can also be physical consequences such as stress, anxiety, and despair. And sins such as gambling and lust for material things will create financial consequences.
Some habitual sins can exist hidden from view of others, at least for a time. Sins such as anger, lust, jealousy, pride, hatred, racial prejudice, unwarranted discouragement, etc. can be kept from public view, but they are never hidden from God; and eventually, their effects will be visible to others.
The Bible Speaks
Bible verses that indicate we are not to harbor sin in our lives are many. Romans 6:14 says that “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” 1 John 3:9 indicates that habitual sin should not be characteristic of the believer: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” (see also Psalm 19:13; Romans 6:12; Ephesians 4:30; I Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7).
How do we recognize sin and with God’s help overcome it? We must know that:
- Christian maturity does not happen automatically.
- Bad habits must be replaced with good ones. Like Joseph, we have to run from the things that tempt us (Genesis 39:15)
- Without the help of the Lord, sin will creep into our lives.
- Choosing to walk closely with God every day takes discipline and commitment.
Therefore, we must determine to
- proactively pursue spiritual growth.
- intentionally making God-honoring choices.
- replace bad habits with good ones.
- flee temptation.
- turn away from the things that can cause us to fall into sin.
- love Jesus with our hearts, souls, and mind; and
- think on Jesus, read His Word, and allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us
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