Do you have a “besetting sin?” Most likely you do. I know I do. Mine is . . . Oh wait, maybe I’ll say that for another time.
A “besetting sin” is defined as a sin to which someone is especially prone. The Bible describes besetting sin as “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).
As I look back on my life, I can identify several besetting sins. One of the interesting things about them is that they’ve been with me as long as I can remember – both before and after my conversion in 1982.
I just read an article on besetting sin. The author writes: “There is a way which, if carefully followed, will bring us complete victory over the besetting, soul-trying sin.”
This sentence definitely got my attention, but as I read further, I was disappointed. What is this “way” that brings “complete victory”? The author didn’t say.
For the record, I believe it’s possible for God to deliver us from our besetting sins. He certainly has the power to do that. And I’ve heard stories where He has done so, usually having to do with the use of alcohol, drugs or nicotine. All of a sudden, a long-time user was cured of their habit and lost all desire for the product.
However, these stories seem to be rare. And they seem limited to, as I said, alcohol, drugs or nicotine. What about other besetting sins, such as lying, lusting or losing one’s temper? I have yet to hear of a person achieving “complete victory” over those things.
If I’m correct that God doesn’t NORMALLY deliver us (totally) from our besetting sins, the question needs to be asked: Why doesn’t He?
Could it be that our besetting sins serve a purpose? I think so. I think they serve to keep us humble and dependent upon God. In other words, they keep us looking to Him – not necessarily for “complete victory,” but for His daily help in living a life pleasing to Him. And then, when we fall short, we have the opportunity to confess our sin and receive anew His forgiveness and cleansing. This keeps us mindful of the Cross. Over time, the power of the besetting sin is reduced, but probably not eliminated in its entirety.
Complete victory over our besetting sins will be realized at the consummation of the Kingdom – i.e., when Jesus comes again. This is another reason why we, as Christians, long for His appearing.