When a person is born again and trusts in the Lord Jesus for salvation, the Holy Spirit starts working to change that person (2 Corinthians 4:16). This results in the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Setting the mind on the Holy Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). Romans 8:2 tells us that: “…through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the believer is able to live his life without slavery to sin. The Spirit renews his thinking and acting.
These verses seem to suggest that habitual sin is something a true believer does not struggle with. But many people who follow Jesus find themselves falling back in sin and seem unable to conquer it. How is this possible if the Holy Spirit dwells in such a person and is renewing him or her?
Active cooperation from the believer
Although the renewal of the mind and heart is the work of the Holy Spirit, it also requires active cooperation from the believer. Paul exhorts believers to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind”(Romans 12:2) and to put on the new self (Colossians 3:10). This involves actively turning your back on the sinful old life by confessing your sins. It means rearranging your thinking and priorities. How do you go about this? It helps to develop a habit of spending time with the Lord by reading his Word and praying. This allows the Holy Spirit to work in you and transform you. It helps to seek the company of godly people who can help you to live your life according to the will of God. Being a Christian all by yourself is very hard. God intends for brothers and sisters to meet and strengthen each other in the faith (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Steering yourself away
Conquering habitual sin also involves steering yourself away from situations that can tempt you to sin again. Do you struggle with pornography? Install a program on your computer that prevents you from going to pornographic websites. Are you married, and are you developing a crush for someone at work? Find ways to avoid him or her and find ways to nurse your marriage. The Bible tells us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). In 1 Timothy 6:10-11 Paul tells Timothy to flee from the love of money and pursue godliness. It has got everything to do with the direction in which you choose to go. Peter warns us to be sober and watchful, because the devil is out there watching to see whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:7-9).
Approach the Lord Jesus
Even if you fall back again into old sin, do not hesitate to approach the Lord Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Never let sin come between you and Jesus, even if it is habitual sin. Pray to him in your time of need and He will provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13), if you are truly willing to take that path. God is faithful and will forgive the sins of those who confess them (1 John 1:8,9).