Here are four key steps in overcoming a habitual or repeated sin.
Isaiah the Prophet writes as God speaking about one of the purposes of fasting in the form of a question: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6)? Fasting is a great way to see ourselves as we really are: fully dependent on God for everything, including overcoming sin and especially a repeating, habitual sin that we can’t seem to shake on our own.
David wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11), which put another way is “I have memorized Scripture so that I might not sin against You.” When we are tempted to sin that same old habitual sin, recall a verse from memory, like “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14) and other such verses.
When I counsel some men who are trying to overcome pornography, I urge them to find an accountability partner with whom they will have to keep in touch weekly or several times a week and tell them how they did that week. I suggest that they find a male accountability partner who can put a password-protected filter on their computer so they can’t access graphic material from the Internet. The Bible says we need one another, we should pray for one another, and we should help one another.
Confessing our Faults
James wrote, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). When we confess our sins to others, we open up the door for them to pray for us to overcome sin; but also we are humbled when we confess our sins to others. By being openly transparent and honest and telling someone that we are battling sin, we are humbled by admitting our shortcomings; and humility is a great way to receive God’s grace since “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
The conclusion about overcoming sin is given in Revelation 12:11 where the Apostle John writes, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” The battle is not ours, nor is the victory ours, as Solomon wisely wrote, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31), even if it’s the daily battle against sin.