What happens if a Christian struggles with sin? Is there hope?
“Struggling with sin” weighs many people down with grief. Often, the temptations and sins feel addictive and impossible to stop. It could be struggling with pornography, lust, or some other sexual sin. Maybe the struggle is with self control regarding food. Whatever the sin, if you are struggling then it is probably on your mind a lot and you are wishing for a way out. It is our hope that you will find some wisdom from God’s Word on this page that will be a help to you.
Firstly, in order to win the struggle against sin, we must be completely honest. Let’s start with the phrase, “struggling with sin.” It is a phrase that can be used as a less-than-honest way to describe how you believe you are doing in your battle against temptation and sin. Telling yourself or someone else that you are “struggling” is sometimes less than honest, although you may not have realized it.
What does it mean to “struggle” with sin or temptation? The word “struggle” means to “fight against”; it means to “strive, put forth effort in order to not give in.” It does not mean or imply that the one who is struggling is on the losing side of the struggle. And yet, many believers when they say that they are “struggling” with sin, they actually mean that they are committing sin(s) even while trying not to. They mean that they have struggled and then they were defeated by sin. And so perhaps the word “defeated” rather than “struggling” more accurately describes such people. If you find yourself being defeated by temptation and sin, then please be completely honest with yourself and with others. Most important, be honest with God.
No matter how permanent “failure” feels, please do not accept such “struggling” (actually defeat) as a way of life. It does not have to be a way of life. Jesus is more powerful than that!
“Consider Him (Jesus) who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your own blood” (Hebrews 12:3-4).
That Scripture from Hebrews is important. Temptations always feel hard in the heat of the moment, but if you truly consider Jesus most people find that it is true–they have not struggled so hard as to even shed their own blood yet.
An example would be appropriate here. I have spoken with many young men who say that they “struggle with” lust. Actually, they mean that they fight against it, but end up giving in to their lusts. They claim that they are trying not to sin. (See the article, “I Try“.) But in reality they watch commercials that promote lust; they watch movies and television programs that encourage lust; and they listen to music that contains all sorts of sexual lyrics. Can they actually say that they are trying to overcome lust? Will God believe them when they say that they tried? Make every effort to enter the kingdom of heaven through the narrow door, Jesus says, because many will simply try but not be able to (Luke 13:24).
We are not saying that a Christian will have no struggles with temptation. We are saying that when a Christian is tempted, he must love God more than the temptation. Fighting against the temptation must be “worth it” because he loves God and would never want to do something to grieve God. A Christian desires to make sure that he is fully submitted to God to resist the temptation; the devil will then flee (James 4:7). For we are promised that no temptation will be too difficult for us because God himself will make a way for us to stand up under every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). We may suffer or struggle and it may be difficult, but we can overcome. There is HOPE! Even Jesus suffered when he was tempted (Heb. 2:18). Remember the Garden of Gethsemane!
Many people lose heart because they have “blown it” too many times. Put your faith in God! BELIEVE that you can and will overcome because of HIM. Don’t rely on establishing a good “track record” before you have confidence. Believe today! Know that your belief entails a love affair with God–so much that you will do ANYTHING for him. But don’t believe the lie that “struggling” is the same thing as “sinning”. It is not true. To struggle means to fight. Struggling against sin does not mean that you are displeasing God. Struggling against sin is one of the main evidences that you hate sin. So, struggle and be victorious through the glorious power of our great and mighty God.
A wholehearted Christian is someone who struggles against sin and then gains the victory through Christ who gives him strength. Christians do struggle with sin…and then get the victory through faith. The “struggle” of the Christian is not a vicious cycle of try-fail, try-fail, try-fail,… No, the struggle of the Christian echoes the sorrowful, yet rejoicing cries of the Apostle Paul, “we faced trials far beyond our ability to endure” (2 Cor. 1:8); “God has delivered us and will continue to deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:10). “Now thanks be to God who always causes us to triumph in Christ” (2 Cor 2:14).
Perhaps you are convicted by God. Perhaps there is sin in your life that you cannot seem to give up. Do not lose hope. (See the article, “If Any Man Sin“.) Rather, repent and get rid of everything that hinders you (Heb. 12:1-2). Ask God to give you a revelation of the LOVE that he has for you. BELIEVE! Truly submit to God. Resist the devil and do not give your temptations a foothold.