Chains small


why it is so hard to stop being 'bad'

Side notes

All Bible references are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

[1] Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

[2] Romans 7:18
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

[3] Romans 8:13
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

[4] 1 Corinthians 5:5 are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

[5] 1 John 1:8-10
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

[6] Acts 2:38
 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

[7] Acts 3:19
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out..

[8] Ezekiel 18:28
Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

[9] Psalms 51:4
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

[10] Romans 13:7-8
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

[11] Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

[12] Romans 8:18-30
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

[13] Romans 8:31-39
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

[14] Galatians 6:7-9
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

[15] Luke 15:7
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

[16] Revelation 3:19
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

The bad news

The Bible teaches that we have three enemies, the flesh, the world and the devil. The worst of these would have to be the flesh. Jeremiah 17:9[1], Romans 7:18[2], Romans 8:13[3]

The flesh can be most easily described as all the sin and the woundings with which we afflict ourselves. We seem to fight constantly with desires that we know are neither right nor good for us. We understand in our heads the requirements of God and yet we turn from them so quickly and easily. The world system and its allurements are so attractive somehow, and time after time we end a day in misery and humiliation because of the stupid things we have done.

Well, if it’s any consolation, we are in good company! The apostle Paul was possibly one of the most powerful and effective Christians that ever lived. And yet read what he writes of himself in Romans 7:15-19nivI do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. — For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.

Remember the powerful encounter he had when he first met the risen Jesus? Remember the powerful miracles he did in the name of Jesus? Remember the churches he established and the demons he drove out in the name of Jesus? None of these set him automatically free from the frustrations of a sinful nature still living and active within him. He goes on to say in Romans 8:7tlbThe old sinful nature within us is against God. It never did obey God’s laws and it never will.

No, the simple rather sad truth is that we will retain that nature of sin until we go home to heaven. 1 Corinthians 5:5[4]

It cannot be fully understood why God has chosen for us to retain such a horrible nature, but he has chosen that, and we have to learn to be content with his will. So the solution is not to fret and fume over our sinning and failures, but rather to learn how we can come through victorious. It is absolutely inevitable that we will sin. Our own experiences prove that and so does the Scripture. 1 John 1:8-10[5]


The good news

God has provided a way for us to conquer our old sinful nature. He doesn’t want us to live in defeat. He longs for us to know the victory and joy of a life without bondage and slavery to sin. His solution is so simple – repentance! Acts 2:38[6], Acts 3:19[7]

Now, how do you react to that one word? Probably the same as most of us. We think of repentance as such a negative, defeatist place to be. It brings to mind words such as humiliation, shame, embarrassment, despair, pain etc. WRONG!

Here is a thought for your consideration. All shame, pain, and other negativity is pre-repentance. The act of, and result of, repentance is healing, release, joy and freedom!

Did you get that? Perhaps you should read it again and spend some time thinking about it.

Satan’s program has been so deeply embedded within us that even truth is perverted. God must hurt so much when we remain in the squalor of our sin. His kingdom is so liberating and so simple to enter into. Let’s examine two or three keys for successful release from sin.

  1. We need to understand the meaning of repentance. In its simplest form, it means to agree with God concerning our wrong behaviour and attitudes, and, working under his guidance and assistance, to change them to be like his. Ezekiel 18:28[8], Psalms 51:4[9]
  2. It means that, if God requires it of us, we will make restitution – i.e. pay back to others what we have deprived them of. This may be money, thankfulness or time – any of many possibilities. God does not always require restitution, but if he does, we need to be willing to respond. Romans 13:7-8[10]
  3. We need to develop a lifestyle of repentance. That means that we need to hit our sins while they are still little sins. We need to deal with them while they are still in the formation stage within our minds; destroy them before they start destroying us; conquer them before they come out into the open. Matthew 12:34[11]

Why do we find such a lifestyle so difficult? Ultimate success is not constant sinlessness. That is impossible. Ultimate success is ongoing victory over sin. Romans 8:18-30[12], Romans 8:31-39[13]

The earlier we recognise sin forming within us and the earlier we stamp it out, the less damage we suffer, the less trouble we find and the less defeat we endure.

The Bible teaches that we reap what we sow. There are numerous such principles; what goes up must come down, is one. In physics we learn that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And so the Bible teaches that if we sow to the flesh we will reap destruction, but if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-9[14]

Therein lies the place to deal with sin – at the seed sowing stage. If we keep the seeds of sin from falling into fertile soil, there will never be any resulting crop of fruit weighing us down, and visible to everyone else.

Repentance is not just commanded by God, God also encourages it. He is in it, and longs to help us achieve it. He’s actually on our side! Luke 15:7[15], Revelation 3:19[16]

That’s why Jesus came – remember?


Praying Repentance

Heavenly Father, you have made me aware that I need to deal with and get rid of the sin of (…name it!…).

I recognise the need to be obedient to your revealed will for me.

I confess this sin of (…name it!…). It is mine and mine alone. I own my guilt before you, Father, and ask for you to please forgive me.

I thank you for your declared willingness to forgive me, and I further ask you to please cleanse my mind from any residues of unrighteousness.

I want so much to be clean and victorious in my Christian life. Father I need your help and I thank you for being available. Please wash me in the precious blood of Jesus, I pray.

I again submit my will to the Lordship of Jesus. Amen.


This paper seeks to accurately represent the teachings of Holy Scriptures. You are free to copy or alter all or any part of this paper PROVIDED that the Holy Scriptures are not misrepresented as a result.