Beware the Sin That Takes Over

Beware the Sin That Takes Over

Believers in Christ are set free from the enslaving power of sin in principle (Rom. 6). Your fundamental relationship with sin has changed. However, believers can- and often do- willingly submit to sin’s domineering power once again. The Psalms quoted above and Romans 6:12-14 in particular warn us against this.

What does it mean for a specific sin to have dominion over you? How does this differ from other sins? Here are some of the marks to identify a sin that has taken dominion in your life. 

1. It is a pleasurable sin. 

A sin that has the greatest possibility of taking dominion over you is one you take great interest in. You like this sin. You derive some sense of delight or satisfaction from it. A pleasurable sin is one you walk into rather than wander or fall into; or if discovered by accident, you willingly return to it. 

Sin is a shortcut. It takes some good that God designed and misuses it, abuses it, or attempts to obtain or achieve it apart from God’s ordained means. Sex, for example, is a great good. God has ordained a means of enjoying this good gift, and set the limits for its safe and right use. Sexual sin is simply a misuse of this good gift and a stepping over the boundaries that God has set in order to experience it. There is of course some pleasure, at least initially in it, because it retains some of God’s good gift in it. But the consequences of misuse are dreadful. The same might be said of anger. It feels good because righteous anger against injustice or wickedness is good and satisfying. It grants the person lashing out in anger a kind of self-righteous, self-satisfaction.

There may be some sins that provide no real temptation for you, because you have no desire for them. It is unlikely these sins will take dominion over you, even if you stumble into them from time to time. Pleasurable sins are the ones most likely to take dominion over you because they offer a shortcut to what you want. 

2. It is a persistent sin.

There are some sins that come and go based on circumstances. We slip into them when caught unawares, having a moment of ignorance, temptation, apathy, or weakness. Perhaps you are normally an honest person, but you might lie to get out of trouble in a tight situation. You rarely lose your temper, but in a moment of high stress, you lash out at someone. We all have experienced committing a sin ‘in the moment.’ It isn’t a sin that normally has a hold on you.

A sin with dominion over you is one that is continually with you. It arises in your thinking and comes out in your speech, attitudes, and behaviors. You have noticed that this sin is a continual problem in a way that other sins are not. 

3. It is a powerful sin.

You may have attempted to uproot this sin from your life and found that it resists. You cannot so easily dismiss it or refuse to give in because its pull on you is strong. If it has dominion over you, it has become habitual or regular. If it is an act, it may be one you do like a ritual. If an attitude, it increasingly rises up with very little provocation. If related to speech, you find it comes out of your mouth before you have time to catch it. 

This sin is like a weed that has been allowed to dig deep roots into your heart and soul. Had you addressed it sooner, it would not have become so attached. But now it is, and it is anchored deeply. You feel at its mercy, overmatched, enslaved. It is probably not a lone sin anymore, but has joined forces with others to form a cluster of sins. So the root of pride has joined with anger and impatience and selfishness to form a domineering network of interrelated sins. Now a sin has become a stronghold. 

4. It is a presenting sin.

It may have been a sin that you could keep quiet or contained for a while. But a sin that dominates you soon becomes visible to others. It has already begun to shape your character and reputation. People can see that you are a prideful person, or a liar, or that you are angry or crude or selfish. 

Jesus often encounters people that have a presenting sin (a sin that is deeply rooted, defines a person’s identity, and obvious to all). The materialism of the rich young ruler, the sexual sin of the woman at the well, the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, are examples. If people have noticed a certain sin again and again in you, it may be a domineering sin.

5. It is a presumptuous sin.

Sin is often referred to in Scripture as a trespass. It is crossing a line, going into a territory that has been marked out of bounds by God. We are often curious or fascinated by some line we aren’t supposed to cross. Something forbidden can easily draw us. Early on you may have sinned only to experiment, and even that with some trepidation. There was excitement mixed with danger (I’m not supposed to be doing this, so it is fun). Once a sin has you in its grip, that pretense of caution is dropped. A sin that has dominion over you is a bold sin. It becomes easier to cross the line God marked ‘do not enter.’ You feel little or no hesitation, and even that is easily overcome.

6. It is a pernicious sin.

It is a most dangerous and destructive sin. Once you have crossed the line freely, it is easier and more likely that you will have to go further into that forbidden land. Sin has no natural boundary. No brakes. No point of no return. Your sin will never say ‘this is enough.’ Instead, it will drive you further than you ever intended. Its end is death. You may have only wanted a taste, but once it has its hold on you, sin will feast until you are consumed. 

Through reading this, you may have come to identify such a sin in your life. If that is the case, do not be dismayed or lose hope. There is hope, Christian, because…

7. It is also a purchased sin!

Jesus bled on the cross and paid the penalty to free you from the power of this sin as well. There is forgiveness and freedom in Christ. Go boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and help (Heb. 4:16). Submit yourself to the Lord who redeemed you and who promises to sanctify you (Phil. 1:6). Though it may be a long and difficult exodus from this domineering sin, Christ is faithful and will set you free.

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