A life-dominating sin overtakes your thoughts and emotions. How can you help the hurting find freedom?
Listen to this story: Conner (a pseudonym) struggles with a life-dominating sin. A life-dominating sin slips in like a ninja and then overtakes all activities and beliefs, becoming the foundation from which future activities and beliefs are based. He hates this sin and longs to be free from it. However, he has difficulty resisting temptation, and the vileness of this sin continues to oppress Conner’s conscience. Knowing this sin is wrong yet continuing in it, Conner falls into despair.
Conner is not unique. Many Christians struggle with a life-dominating sin. A few examples are addictions such as gambling, substance abuse, and pornography; lifestyle choices like promiscuity, adultery, and homosexuality; and a heart ruled by anger or fear. While all Christians are accredited with Jesus’ righteousness by faith, we continue to struggle with sin.
The apostle Paul calls us saints, and we are. But we are not transformed into sinless saints at our conversion
Yet struggling believers like Conner may question their salvation: Am I really a Christian? A Christian wouldn’t have this problem.
Encourage the Hurting
Conner’s doubts and confusion are real. Take them seriously. To tell Conner to “trust Jesus more” is a true statement but not enough. Your counselee needs to hear in its fullest sense what trusting in Jesus means. This is the starting point for helping Conner, because it lays the solid foundation of hope (read: encouragement) and clarifies what it means to stand on Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross. No Christian should take for granted God’s grace.
The apostle Paul says,
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4
Yes, Christ did it all. By faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Conner can rest in Jesus.
Instruct the Hurting
Yet Conner is preoccupied with ridding the life-dominating sin (just another indication of how a life-dominating sin overtakes one’s life) by grasping for holiness through “white-knuckling” it, or trying to merit God’s favor based upon his own effort.
Conner’s thinking needs renewal. No one can understand all of the hope that Scripture truth has for us every single moment. This is why we need to be saturated in the truth, for it is this truth that sets us free from sin and all its aspects – not only in the acting out of sinful choices, but also in the very defeat of the temptations that accompany it. Here are two examples of renewing the mind with biblical truth.
1. Doctrinally sound hymns.
Listening to, singing, and reading hymns help renew the mind. This is “Jesus Whispers” by Joseph Hart:
Lamb of God we fall before Thee, humbly trusting in Thy cross;
that alone be all our glory; all things else are vain and loss.
Thee we own a perfect Savior, only source of all that’s good:
Every grace and every favor comes to us through Jesus’ blood.
Jesus whispers this sweet sentence, “Son thy sins are all forgiven.”
Faith He gives us to believe, hearing ears and seeing eyes.
When we live on Jesus’ merit then we worship God aright,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then we savingly unite
Hear the whole conclusion of it; great or good, whate’er we call it,
God, or King, or Priest or Prophet Jesus Christ is All in All.
2. Meditation on Scripture. We must take God seriously when He talks to us about our sins, but we also must take God’s grace seriously when He talks to us about His steadfast love. This is how captives are set free from sin and able to live for Christ out of love. Consider these verses:
- “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1)
- “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:26, 27).
- “If God is for us who can be against us?…It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised — is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:31, 33-35, 39).
Renewing the mind would benefit Conner. The necessity of thinking rightly will help to establish hope in Jesus alone. There also are times to comfort, rebuke, and train hurting brothers and sisters in Christ.
How have you helped the hurting in these ways?
Do you need training to become more confident in giving compassionate care to the hurting?