Each of us wrestles with the problem of sin. To understand how to win this battle, we must first define the terms. What is sin? Sin is any violation of God’s Law (1 John 3:4). We know everyone is guilty of this (Romans 3:23). Holiness is the goal because our lives are supposed to look like Jesus. We can’t look like Jesus when we are continuing to indulge in the same sinful patterns that we always have.
None of us can live a sinless life; only Jesus was able to accomplish that. But each of our lives should move closer to that ideal every day. God’s law is unchanging, and He has plainly stated what violating His law involves (Mark 12:28-31). When we love anything more than God or when we do not love others as much as we love ourselves, we are sinning. There is no vagueness about what sin is.
So, if we have no confusion about what sin is, how then can we live a life free from it? The biggest battleground for sin lies not within our actions or words, but within our minds. Having a bad thought is not a sin as long as we immediately recognize it and throw it out. It becomes sin when we dwell on it (James 1:14-15), which means we are preferring the thought of it over any thought of God. Remember what sin is, and that is to not love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-31). When we elevate anything above God, we are sinning. Every time we sin, we are rejecting God and violating His law. This must break our hearts to the point that the mere thought of doing so repulses us in the most extreme way.
Since our minds are the most vulnerable to sin, we must do everything we can to fortify and protect our thoughts. There is no greater defense than spending time in God’s Word. Even if you find reading the Bible dull or dry, it’s important you keep feeding on it. I promise you, as you continue to read, you will fall in love with the Bible. It contains the very words of God, the one you love more than anything, correct? If you love God, you will love His Word. The more His word gets in you, the more sin will stay out of you. Light and darkness cannot coexist (John 1:5; 1 John 1:5; 2 Corinthians 6:14). They cannot cohabitate your mind!
Supplement reading God’s Word by listening to sermons from preachers who teach God’s Word, not their personal opinions. You aren’t looking for the flashiest, funniest, most engaging speakers. You want men who will walk through God’s Word verse by verse, explaining the scriptures so you can better understand and grow deeper in your relationship to God. Listen to music that glorifies God. Every so-called Christian song does not glorify God. Look for those that are centered on God’s magnificence rather than our response or what we benefit from Him.
To guard ourselves against sin, we must understand what sin is. Then we must build defenses against it, refusing to give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). Read God’s Word. Spend increasing time with Him in prayer, asking Him to help you know Him better, serve Him more deeply, and to protect you from sin and ever putting anything above Him. If you will love the Lord with all your heart and love others as much as yourself, you will keep your life free from sin.