My cats have short term memory when it comes to doing things they’re not supposed to. I will tell them not to do something, yell at them, throw pillows at them - and not more than 15 seconds later they come right back to what is disapproved of. One time, as I was hucking pillows at the cats, I realized that I myself can have short term memory when it comes to obeying God. There are times when I do something I know God doesn’t want me to, the Spirit convicts me, and I ask for forgiveness. But it could be a weeks, days, or even moments later that I am back at it. Real Christians desire to do what God wants and earnestly want to put Him first, but sometimes continue to struggle with tough, habitual sins. It’s different from person to person, and could range from lying, cheating, disrespect, greed, envy, etc. 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:1 assure us, respectively, that our sins are forgiven if we confess and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ. But how do we practically overcome those sins that we constantly struggle with?
James (brother of Jesus and leader in Jerusalem church) wrote his book of the Bible to expose hypocrisy - people were saying they trusted in Christ but lived lives totally contrary. His letter is a great handbook for proper Christian living. In it, he stressed the importance of getting other people involved in your faith. James 5:16 says,
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
One way to practically overcome that difficult sin is to understand that accountability is absolutely imperative. We’re not meant to do this Christian life alone - we need help, encouragement, and prayer from Christian brothers and sisters. Do you have accountability set up in your life - with someone you can share your struggles with and receive encouragement from? This should be with a faithful Christian brother/sister. Set up works best for you - maybe it’s a weekly coffee meeting or a daily text message. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we must “encourage one another and build each other up.”
We gather another way to overcome sin from Hebrews 12. After reading about the faith hall of famers in chapter 11, we can be encouraged that many faithful men and women had gone through their own struggles and challenges, but ended their lives full of faith in God. In light of that understanding, Hebrews 12:1 says,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that easily entangles.
Removing what causes you to stumble is essential to overcoming those tough sins. You know what sins you are personally prone to, so what are the things that contribute to those sins? For example, let’s say you struggle with gossip. You can’t gossip without people to gossip to. So if you know there is a person or group of people that whenever you are around, your tendency to gossip is realized - than maybe it is time to part ways with them. Or if you struggle with greed or jealousy. If you are most jealous when you are perusing Instagram, those sinful desires would greatly diminish if you just deleted the app. Removing stumbling blocks is difficult, because that means removing something from your life that you don’t want to. But in Matt 5:29-30, Jesus is extremely clear that it is better to sacrifice the things that cause you to stumble, than to continue sinning.
Lastly, an important step for you to implement in battling sin can be found in Romans 8:5-6. Paul explains that those who are mentally focused on the flesh (worldly, sinful desire) will live out that flesh-filled mindset. But those who are thoughtful on the Spirit of God, will in turn live out the Spirit. Another way to overcome that personal destructive sin: shift your mental focus. What are you putting in your mind? What music do you listen to? Is it full of cuss words, sexy-time themes, drugs, and alcohol? What are you watching? Are there shows that you binge that have sketch stuff, but you justify because “everyone else watches it, so it’s not that bad.” These things are so destructive, whether you realize it or not. Make sure that you’d listen to that music or watch that show with Jesus at your side - because He is!
Romans 8:11 says that the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives is living inside each believer. Ultimately, we don’t defeat sin - it is Christ who already defeated sin. If God’s Spirit can raise a dead man to life, that same Spirit can help you overcome sin. Set yourself up for success by setting up accountability, removing things that cause you to stumble, and shifting your mental focus. If you do that, these sins will definitely become fewer and far between.