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Dealing with People Who Continue to Make Sinful and Foolish Choices
Posted by Clare
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It’s bad enough when you see a friend or family member make an unwise or sinful decision and then have to live with the consequences. But, it really drives me crazy when it’s a repeat offense – they’ve made that decision before, failed and are now, back at it again. It’s not like it’s a pop quiz! Can’t they see the outcomes are both predictable and preventable?

I’m guessing that God occasionally has the same feeling toward you and me.

Why? Because every habitual sin you and I commit is both predictable and preventable. And, if I were God, I’d be just as frustrated with me as I am with a friend who knows what they ought to do, but won’t.

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” James 4:17

When I ran my business and something went terribly wrong, I’d gather my management team. Together we’d analyze the problem, propose some solutions and decide how we could keep this mistake from ever happening again. And, occasionally it would happen again, so we’d tighten something else up to make a third time even less likely. The more pro-active we were, the better results we achieved.

So, why is it we don’t apply that same technique to personal holiness, particularly those sins we repeat over and over?

Pet Sins
“I have a theory as to why we’re so unintentional about dealing with certain habitual sins. Really, it’s not that hard to figure out: Secretly, we don’t want to give up our pet sins. You know – the sins or bad habits we’re not sure we can live without, or believe we could ever really be happy again if we did. Our pet sins give us a temporary release from the realities and stresses of life. They comfort us. And we know full well that if we devise a real plan to deal with them, it means we’re committing ourselves to have a serious go at it, or risk even greater feelings of guilt. So we often chose to put up with this dog that bites, rather than shoot our companion.

But here’s the problem with that compromise – it’s contagious. Because I think I’m getting away with certain sins, I find I’m tempted even more in other areas. Perhaps you’ve had the same experience. Unless I’m intentional about personal holiness, it’s amazing how quickly my pet sins give birth to others – especially those I once swore would never again get the better of me.”

“But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:14-15)

“The dog needs to die – and today, not tomorrow after just one last time in your lap.”

Quote from The 10-Second Rule

Dealing with the Problem – a Pre-decision

A pre-decision is an intentional choice to act more Christ-like in the future, particularly if there’s been a pattern of failure in the past.

So, tomorrow when you go before the Lord and confess your habitual sins, the ones that seem to happen over and over, I’d suggest you try this;

  • As you confess, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what you need to do differently to prevent this sin from reoccurring.
  • Let him, the Holy Spirit, bring to mind how you’re being tempted. Are there people or places, memories or fears that trigger this habitual sin in your life that you need to avoid or confront?
  • Make a written list of the ideas the Holy Spirit gives you to minimize or eliminate these “sin triggers”.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit’s power to help you resist sin.
  • If you’re still at a loss as to how to change your behavior, tell your mentor, your pastor or a Christian therapist. Get help.

The whole point is to stop the need to confess by actually stopping the sin! I know that appears to be an obvious solution, but here’s the sad truth I’ve experienced:

Far too often I’d rather confess the sin than do what it takes to stop it. That’s the nature and the power of pet sins – habitual sins, to keep us in bondage. If we don’t, the results are both predictable and preventable!

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”  Romans 6:12, 14

by Clare De Graaf

Question:  What pet sin has the Holy Spirit convicted you of even as you read this blog?

Following Jesus in Real Life 


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Comments (2)
  1. Jim McNaughton said...

    Clare – I’ve never quite looked at sin as “predictable” and “preventable”. Thank you for that perspective. My sin is I don’t do what I don’t want to do, even if it is in my best interest. I know now from your post that I need to be intentional and put structures in place and address this sin before it destroys me. Paul Anthes talks about the belief matrix. What lies am I believing and what is the truth? Is the answer “just don’t be lazy?” Or is there more to this sin? Thanks for your input. – Jim

    • Clare said...

      Jim, thanks for your comments. The “predictable and preventable” refers primarily to habitual sin or unwise choices. We know it’s been a problem in the past, with predictable outcomes. So if we’re serious about changing, then pray for a plan to make less likely that we sin.

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