Besetting Sins

By John Thiel

Hebrews 12:1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

What are besetting sins? This is our first point to consider.  How is it that we can lay them aside? The first point of this scripture is how sins easily beset us. One meaning of besetting is to be surrounded, besieged, sins that surround us and besiege us. Because they besiege and plague us, they harass us, they hound us, and they annoy us. That is what a besetting sin actually is. What are these pesky sins that niggle and annoy us so badly? What are these? Smoking, alcohol, theatre, murderer, adultery? Are these the things that niggle us? These and many crass sins are what Gods people would not consider. What are then, besetting sins that keep on hounding and plaguing us?

Envy, malice, evil thinking, evilspeaking, covetousness–these are weights that the Christian must lay aside if he would run successfully the race for immortality. {AA 312.1}

Associated with these sins is that which is part of every one of us and that is self. Self is always there, within and then its association of all about us. Pride, there are the root characteristics. These are these pesky sins.

There are thoughts and feelings suggested and aroused by Satan that annoy even the best of men; but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt, and no other is defiled by their influence. RH, Mar 27, 1888.  {2MCP 432.2}

These plaguing besetting thoughts and feelings. One is envy. Someone in the church is promoted, is made much of, this eats at you. Why is this particular person so prominent among us all? This eats. Feelings of envy that won’t leave you. They keep on besetting us, it generates evil thinking, evil speaking. Evil thinking, the person or the people in the church or family, we know what is expected but they are not behaving themselves according to the high standards. They are behaving questionably and I can’t get it out of my thoughts. These evil things that I think pertain to different people. I can’t get it out of my thoughts. Then when I am together with friends, relatives and church members, I can’t stop. I have to gossip. It’s so much part of the system.

Philippians 4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.

Feelings are stirred by Satan come to us that we know is wrong. You get that eerie feeling. You come up to another person and you talk very privately about another person. A besetting sin of something we know that isn’t right. Here I am thinking about other things. But the voice of God says, think on other things. I can’t helped myself, it’s a besetting ailment. I am overwhelmed. It generates something else.

My mind is occupied with it that it creates malice and covetousness. This person is not right here or there and he has a position. I could do better than that, and you begin to covet a position in your thoughts. What are those thoughts, who are those thoughts generated by? What about Lucifer?  He wanted Gods position. Envy, evil speaking generates covetousness and malice. These are besetting sins so easily besetting us. Why? Why does it so easily beset us? Because self and pride make up our natural human nature in its fallen condition. All of us are beset by self and ego. Selfishness. Hence we are so easily beset by these things.

There is a great need of taking self in hand when we find ourselves watching to make capital out of the missteps of a brother, a sister, or a friend. Although we do not acknowledge that the object of defaming another is to exalt self, self-exaltation is behind the practise of noting the shortcomings of others. Let every soul remember it is best to be on guard, and to make straight paths for his own feet, lest the lame (spying ones) be turned out of the way. None of us are in danger of being too devotional, or of possessing too much Christ-likeness of character. The remedy for unlikeness to Christ, for giving occasion for your good to be evil spoken of, is to live humbly, to keep looking unto Jesus in prayerful watchfulness, until changed into the likeness of his beautiful character. {RH, May 12, 1896 par. 2}

It is the one who has every reason to distrust his own principles who is keenly alive to the failings of others. If there were not some lack in our own experience, we would not be so suspicious of our brethren. It is the one whose conscience condemns him that so readily passes judgment. Let everyone tremble and be afraid of himself. {RH, October 29, 1901 par. 14}

Think about it. Our own fallen condition makes us very sensitive of the failings of others. Let everyone tremble and be afraid of himself. Let him see if his own heart is right with God. If he does this work faithfully, he will not have time to find fault in the garden of others. Instead of judging others, let us judge ourselves. Let us make sure we are among the number. Our own defects and sense of failure will make me become sensitive. It will make me feel better. That is evil thinking and speaking that it generates that it would destroy our peace and our joy.  To speak the word of God with faithfulness is an entirely different work. Thinking evil and drawing apart from one another. Judging and reproving are different things. He has forbidden the thoughtless judging so common among the believers in the truth.Those who have been given the task of rebuking and correcting do not indulge in this kind of thing. How to lay these things aside? Whatever it is that besets you is so horrifying, you can’t seem to get it out of your system. I need an answer of laying it aside and putting it off.

Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Put it off. How? This envy, evil thinking, evil speaking and covetousness. Put it off. How? When it so easily besets us. Around me and within.  Thoughts and feelings annoy the best of men but if they are not cherished, if they are repulsed as hateful, the soul is not contaminated with guilt. Here is a hint of an answer. To regard them as hateful, not to cherish these thoughts and feelings. Not to cherish them. It’s the opposite of what is exciting, what can you tell me. I don’t want to know. Instead of listening, oh, what’s that? To see it as hateful. Repulse it as hateful, not to cherish, do we naturally see the cosseting of self as hateful? Don’t think for one moment that sin is unpleasant to the human nature. Sin is a pleasant indulgence. Whether you’re eating something that the appetite craves, or to coset your own feelings or indulging in the unsanctified love of the sensual life.  How can I come to the position of repulsing self as hateful? How can I come to that position when it’s so comforting to self? Our scripture reading continues with the answer. Here is the clear answer. If you have a problem that you can clearly say yes, I’m beset with that. Here is the answer to make it hateful.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; 4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Do you want to get rid of this sin? What causes us to become weary and faint in our mind? It’s too hard, I feel like indulging myself. Well, consider him with the embankment. You have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. Look at Jesus, behold him. If I don’t look at Jesus I will exalt myself. As I look to Jesus beholding and praying I will cease to exalt self. How does that actually work? To cease exalting self by beholding Jesus. How is that applicable? How will I repulse them? Beholding Jesus upon the cross of Calvary arouses the conscious to the heinous character of sin as nothing else can do. It was sin that caused the death of Gods dear Son. As I contemplate these feelings, these gossipy things about me. When I look at Jesus and the things that make me comfortable turn within me with a hatred that I am actually indulging in the very things that killed my saviour. Nothing else can make me see the heinous that makes me feel so comfortable. When I see him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself. What did he do? He resisted unto blood striving against sin. All the detail of the atonement of Jesus will cause a conscious trip that will cause us to repulse. Nothing else will do it.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, many will accept the divine principles. Beholding Jesus in His loveliness, in His self-denial and self-sacrifice, the self-sufficient rich man will see himself in contrast as wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, and will become so small in his own estimation that he will prefer Christ to himself, and will lay hold on eternal life.  {6T 82.3}

You do not know how wretched, poor, miserable, blind and naked you are. By beholding Jesus in his loveliness, self denial and self sacrifice, you will see yourself in contrast, wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. This is why so many people don’t look at Jesus they want to feel good about themselves. In the light of this, can we see how we will repulse and not cherish besetting sins? We will lay them aside as we will repulse them because Jesus my saviour the son of God died because of those indulgences. Every time you can hear the knocking, the correction, think only of those things that are pure and virtuous. Oh, that is what he died for. That is how you feel. You will not seek to indulge it anymore. As I feel the heinousness of it, how will I literally lay it aside? I don’t like it anymore but it wants to run into my mind. I looked to Jesus I feel the character of the sins, then what will I do? Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. I will follow the one who wrote the book. I’ll do what he did. What did he do with my sins? If I learn what he did with my sins I will do the same.

1 Peter 2:24. who is own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness.

What did Jesus do with those sins? He took them to the tree. He died with them. That is how I become dead to those sins. this takes us to those who have been baptised. Notice what we do when baptised?

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

What did Jesus do? He put off those besetting sins and he died. If I want to put of my besetting sins, I look to Jesus and I don’t enjoy them anymore. And I put them in the likeness of his death. I will also be in the likeness of his resurrection. When you are dead, you can’t exercise those evil thinking’s, you’re dead, you’re finished. That is the answer. Dead with Jesus. I must do what Jesus did. If we be dead with Jesus, we live with him.

Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Let it off. I can hear people saying yes I did that at the time of my baptism and before. I love the fact I no longer want to have them I have received a new mind and a sound mind. The joy of those first experiences are a memory. Because we think it is a onetime exercise. I have done it back there, I now live in Jesus. I still have besetting sins.

Colossians 2:6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:

How did I receive him? Wasn’t it by death? At the cross? Every day you walk and you do it again and again. If I don’t do it again and again I begin to fall under the besetting sins.

Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

As you have received Christ Jesus taking up the cross so you daily do it. Our besetting sins will come to us all the time so do it daily.

It is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that this renunciation of self is to be made. At every advance step heavenward it is to be renewed. All our good works are dependent on a power outside of ourselves. Therefore there needs to be a continual reaching out of the heart after God, a continual, earnest, heartbreaking confession of sin and humbling of the soul before Him. Only by constant renunciation of self and dependence on Christ can we walk safely.  {COL 159.4}

If I will do this with my besetting sins, can you see the victory? Lay it off every day. I die daily. Every day because I see Jesus suffering causes me to die every day. What does he do to be victorious?

1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.

2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

In himself he was constantly taking the bearing of Jesus in himself. The death of Jesus is enacted within me every day. What do I by laying these things off? I continue to practise the death of Jesus. As I do it every day, I will experience the life giving resurrection every day. This is the joy that I had when I first became baptised. I die daily, not once at my baptism, daily. The death of Jesus is enacted everyday that the life of Jesus is manifest in my body.  This is how life continues, death to self. God practises this every day.

There is no such thing as an instantaneous sanctification. It is an every-day work. Says Paul, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). He received a conversion daily to God. As the truth and Spirit of God revealed to him the defects in his character, he put away his wrong, died to self, and cleansed himself “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). . . .  {UL 231.3}

He’s telling us in Hebrews exactly what he did. He put away his wrong. He did it every day. In other words he examined his situation and every day the defects in his character were revealed to him. This is what many Christians don’t want, they want to have it put away once and for all instantaneous sanctification and now I live happy eve rafter. I need to remember it doesn’t just happen once and then it doesn’t happen anymore.

Paul’s sanctification was a constant conflict with self. Said he: “I die daily.” His will and his desires every day conflicted with duty and the will of God. Instead of following inclination, he did the will of God, however unpleasant and crucifying to his nature.  {4T 299.2}

His will, his desires, the indulgence of relieving my stress of thinking evil of somebody. Whatever the thoughts are, it was a desire and a will that conflicted with Gods will and this duty. Instead of following inclination he did the will of God however unpleasant and crucifying to his nature. Do you like this? Here is the reason why is it that Jesus is standing at the hearts door and only a few people are opening it. The moment I deny that, the resurrection of Jesus takes place. Being annoyed and plagued and I conquer it through death.

Genuine conversion brings us daily into communion with God. There will be temptations to meet, and a strong undercurrent drawing us from God to our former state of indifference and sinful forgetfulness of God. No human heart can remain strong without divine grace. No man can remain converted unless he takes care of himself and the Master has a care for him. Unless the heart holds fast to God, and God holds fast to him, he will become self-confident and exalted and will surely stumble and fall. {TDG 277.1}

Isn’t that an awakening call? I will surely stumble and fall if I don’t hold fast to God. If I don’t keep Jesus in front of me and no longer repulse the things that cause his death. The power of God was Pauls.

Paul was in such constant dread, lest his evil propensities should get the better of him, that he was constantly battling, with firm resistance, unruly appetites and passions. If the great apostle felt like trembling in view of his weakness, who has a right to feel self-confident and boastful? The moment we begin to feel self-sufficient and confident then we are in danger of a disgraceful failure.  {TDG 277.2}

is that your dread? He was constantly battling with firm resistance. How many times in your experience have you made a disgraceful failure? When we begin to feel self sufficient, I have given my life to Jesus, I am now the son of God, wonderful feeling. Therefore I don’t become watchful anymore and I continue to let my mind become misguided. Thank God for his statements. Our only sure defence against besetting sins is prayer daily and hourly. What is it? Watchfulness. What am I going to watch? Problems around me? No. Jesus. It is by prayer and watchfulness how I’m going to conquer. Sins beset us and they will continue to do until Jesus comes. Although they beset us, we need not succumb. We can lay them aside every day. We can hate them, we don’t cherish them. We repulse them as hateful and die with him daily. Brethren, let us take this living truth and make it our determined life. Then, we will conquer and we will be among the 144,000.

So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in a right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations. Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism. This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. {MH 487.2}

Each one of us has a personal battle to fight. Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful unless we become co-workers with him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory.


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Sabbath Sermons is a small resource information ministry in Australia standing upon the original platform of the Adventist truth. We are dedicated to spreading the special 'testing truths' for our time and are not affiliated with the various denominations. This website is administered by lay members only

Posted on 23/07/2009, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I am richly blessed through this sermon.

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