Do you ever feel like you repeat the same sin over and over again? Do you ever feel like God must be getting impatient with you because you have to repent of the same sin constantly? Have you ever wondered how you can break this cycle? Do you worry about the impact this cycle of sin might be having on others (like your family)?
At the risk of sharing too much too quickly and writing out of emotion, I’ll share with you a personal example that is literally hours old. Also, I’ll share with you the step I plan to take to break the cycle. I’d like to say that such cycles are in my past and share with you proven ways to break these cycles of sin in your life. While I can’t recite my success for you, I am confident in the truth found in my recommendation. It is biblical truth (that I’ll support with scripture) and when applied will break the cycle of sin in your life. I know the truth, but I’ve been negligent to apply it. Knowledge not applied is just knowledge, knowledge applied develops into wisdom.
My most recent cycle of sin has played out over the past two weeks, but I’ve been guilty of this sin on a cyclical basis for a few years now. My cycle of sin involves stirring up anger in my children (Ephesians 6:4). You see, I can be a very impatient and frustrated father when the evening routine doesn’t go as planned. I prefer a regimented evening routine that finishes and cleans up dinner, gets baths taken quickly, prepares everything for the next day, allows for a few minutes of down time, and then gets everyone in the bed on time. You know as well as I do, every evening doesn’t go so well.
A few nights last week didn’t go so well according to my desired regiment. Specifically, my daughter had algebra homework that was not complete (not due to her negligence I should add) and we were forced to altar our evening routine and stay up later than planned to get her homework completed. This frustrated me to the point that I made it very clear that I was unhappy with the situation. Frankly, I acted like an immature little boy as I huffed, puffed, moaned, and groaned as I “help” her finish her algebra homework. I acted so poorly that my daughter actually told my wife that she dreaded me coming home the second night that she didn’t have her homework complete. She didn’t want to have to deal with me and my frustration in what she knew would be an evening that deviates from my routine.
To make matters worse, I was studying Ephesians 6:1-9 so that I could teach a Sunday school lesson on the verses the very next Sunday. So while I was studying about Paul’s warning to fathers, do not stir up anger in your children, I was provoking anger in my daughter. Trouble is, I didn’t even recognize what I was doing until my wife told me. Ouch! So, what did I do? I repented to Jesus and even told our class about it on Sunday as I taught the Bible study lesson. Now that should certainly break the cycle of sin, right?
Not so much.
Just this evening (Monday following teach the Sunday school lesson), I found myself at the kitchen table “helping” my daughter with algebra again. At least this time is wasn’t late and outside the timing of our night time routine. However, because she really wasn’t in the mood to be helped with math (or maybe she was fearful of dad’s wrath), I became frustrated with her lack of understanding. Ultimately my frustration presented itself again. Immediately, I knew I had repeated my cycle of sin by provoking anger in my daughter yet again.
So, now how do I plan to break this cycle permanently?
Whether cyclical sin or a single occurrence, the way out of sin must begin with repentance. Repentance that is a heartfelt sorrow, verbal apology to Jesus that seeks forgiveness, and a commitment to turn away from such sin. The Bible is clear in 1 John 1:9 that God is faithful and just to forgive those that repent of sin. Additionally, it is often necessary to repent to those negatively impacted by our sin. In my case, I had to apologies to my daughter and ask her to forgive me for allowing my frustration to provoke anger in her – a direct violation of the warning Paul gives me in Ephesians 6:4. James 5:16 demands that we confess our sin to one another and pray for one another in order that our relationship might be healed.
Now finally for the secret sauce that breaks the cycle of a repeated sin…
Meditation on prescriptive scripture
Prescriptive scripture is a Bible verse that speaks directly to your sinful temptation. Psalm 119:11 tells us that we must hide God’s word in our heart in order that we may not sin against God. This means that we read, memorize, meditate, and repeat the scripture of God’s Bible so that we can break the cycle of repeated sin. This meditation and memorization (hiding His word in our hearts) is critically important at the moment sin tempts you. By memorizing, meditating on, and verbalizing prescriptive scripture at the moment of temptation, you replace the thoughts Satan has placed in your mind with God’s specific directions needed to avoid that sin.
My sinful cycle is frustration and anger provoked by a deviation from the evening routine. The prescriptive scripture that speaks directly to this sin and will allow me to break the cycle is Ephesians 6:4 and Proverbs 15:1.
Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. -Ephesians 6:4
A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. -Proverbs 15:1
I encourage you to hide God’s word in you heart. Memorize it. Meditate on it’s meaning. And verbalize it when Satan tempts you with sin – any sin.
Do you have scripture that you recite when faced with tempting sin? I hope you will share your Bible verses with everyone in the comments below.