The Trap of Habitual Sin

We are living in times when scandal among Christian leaders is making headlines almost alongside politicians and celebrities. It’s like we are just waiting for the next man of God to fall which is sad and ungodly. But perhaps we need to ask ourselves when our own scandal might befall us. You see as much as we receive such news with wonder and disbelief we know it doesn’t happen overnight. No one sets out to be an abusive leader, a greedy televangelist or to be a pastor known all over for sexual scandal. Actually I would assume they do the very best to fight it or hide it. Just as none of us wants to succumb to our temptations or be known for it.

But as we pray for our leaders and earnestly seek God to shield them from sin and scandal we might also need to apply this prayer to our own lives. You see as much as our scandal won’t make headlines still it’ll dishonour God, bring disrepute to the Christian family and cause us much grief if we are genuine believers. We need to pray for ourselves but our prayer shouldn’t just be, dear Lord shield me from sin and scandal, Amen.

First, we need to ask God to bring to light those things of which we are prone to fall into. We need to ask, which idols most beckon our hearts for worship? When we are alone and in private which sites seem to call us to click? When we are left with unsupervised money what lies come to our ear? And when we are in positions of leadership how do we treat others? Might we be blamed for what we see in our superiors? To kick off this reflection I want to suggest 3 things we need to know about sin especially habitual sin to inform our prayers and fuel our war with sin.

Habitual Sin begins by Luring us in

I bet many who fell for abusive leadership didn’t even realise how firm their hand was. They just thought they make a strong case and people followed them unanimously. They never realised no one seemed to oppose them or they didn’t let anyone in who could oppose them. Or do you think the man caught up in sexual scandal went out seeking such a reputation? They started with a bit of flirting, a private meeting here, just a lift there, an innocent compliment and before they knew it they were deep in scandal.

What about the money trap? You start by an innocent need with unsupervised money which you vow to return. You tell yourself you are harming no one and you need it. Then it’s for a project that will take a few months and you think I’ll use it and then return it. Sin has a way to lure us in and before we know it we’ve done the unthinkable.

Think about Cain and his brother. It started off with a bit of jealousy, grew into anger and finally it led to murder. God warned Cain, Sin is crouching at your door with it’s desire toward you but you must rule over it, see Gen 4:7. He warns all of us with that sin that so easily seems to captive us if we would only listen. If you want to kill sin start by indentifying it, look out for its triggers and what it promises. Bring it to the Lord before it’s too late. Come and ask for the strength to kill its desire. The allure of sin is where the battle begins and where it needs to be won.

Habitual Sin Thrives in Privacy
Like a thief in the night sin has a courage that seems to thrive in private places. It’s like all over sudden this harmless man transforms when he’s alone. As evil lurks in the dark sin lurks in the secret places. It breeds in privacy and hatches in the dark corners. Or who steals from the money bag when everyone is looking? Who clicks that site when his family is having dinner? It’s the secret unsupervised places and times that sin enjoys.

For this reason the first line of defence with sin ought to be confession and accountability. Bring the temptation to the light and the roaring lion becomes a little cat. Still it can’t be ignored but the environment is different to fight it. When I have confessed a temptation to a brother I often find that though I’m exposed my sin is also exposed. Being vulnerable is said to make you weak but actually in the right company it makes you strong to fight sin. It’s when we hide sin that it’ll have its day with us. We’ll look strong but deep inside we know just how weak we are.

Think about Judas. All those years of taking from Jesus money bag in secret before he sold out his Saviour. What if he told Peter or John his temptation? He may have lost the treasurer’s job but I bet we would be reading of his powerful ministry in the book of Acts. Confessing our sin and seeking accountability gives us the weapons we need to slay the sin monster.

Habitual Sin is Stubborn
One of the things I long for in the new creation is saying the battle with sin is finished. You know why ? Because on this other side it’s never finished. Haven’t you found yourself stuck in a sin you thought you overcome years ago? You prayed many times for God to help you overcome your anger and for sometime it seemed like you won the battle only for the war to sneak in on you. Or maybe it’s that site you used to frequent. You overcome it, got a more healthy, practical and spiritual rythm then one weekend while you are tired and alone there you go. Sin can feel like it has more lives than a cat. Worse it seems to have the ability to resurrect.

Think about Saul with his rage and jealousy. How many times does he seem to forgive David and turn away from his plotting? You think now that David has spared his life he’ll let him be. Unfortunately sin doesn’t say goodbye that easily. Just because you overcome it last time doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. Don’t get me wrong sin can be overcome and will be overcome but I’m saying we need to watch out lest we deceive ourselves with early victory. The battle with sin will be won when we see Jesus in glory. We might win several fronts on this side but we should never let our guard down.

Conclusion
We started this line of thought with stories of Christian leaders making headlines. But I hope by now you’ve realised we are all together in a bigger fight with sin especially with habitual sin. As that African proverb goes, don’t laugh at a boat being tossed forth by winds in the sea for your brother might be in it. Worse with the waves of sin we are all in this boat. We need to pray for our leaders and the church as whole. We need to watch out for the sin that so easily entangles. As John Owen said, we need to be killing sin before it kills us.

A Heart of Stone


I was a man with ears but I never listened
I saw what was before me yet I was still blind
I would wrestle with hard concepts but fail at his word
There was enough to convince me but I still wouldn’t believe
I wanted to believe but my heart kept me away


These days when I look at the sun I can’t believe it
Was it always there before me?
The great wonder of creation speaking of him
Everything around bowed to this master
Yet I lived like a blind man deaf to his voice


But my eyes were not the problem
My ears could hear and my brain comprehend
But my heart refused to accept the obvious
In the eyes of the world I was brilliant yet foolish at heart
That stony interior made me dead from inside


I was a hopeless case, a dead man walking
Though I fooled many with my knowledge
I couldn’t fool God or myself and yet I did fool myself
I thought I could get away with ignoring him
But I rejoice that he didn’t follow after my indifference


He rattled my nest of ignorance with his powerful word
He lit through my blind eyes with his mighty works
He spoke in my ear with his compelling voice
He gave me a new heart of flesh destroying my stony one
He breathed life to my brain so I could know him as he is


I would never understand the Gospel with that stony thing
I wouldn’t yield to God’s word with my dead conscience
But with this heart of flesh everything seems so clear
On this other side I want to obey and to please him
This heart of flesh longs for it’s maker


The Tragedy of Good Men

The power of the Gospel is clearly revealed when a man who lived an evil life turns around to follow Jesus. This is why we love apostle Paul’s story. We love hearing those kinds of testimonies that say I was a completely different person before I met Jesus. I was a drunkard, a murderer, a corrupt police officer, a prostitute, and a womanizer. These are the people we call in open-air meetings to show what the Gospel can do.

But what about those who were generally considered to be good people? Those of us who were good boys and girls? Was the Gospel less effective? I meet many people who find it hard to share their stories of conversion because it doesn’t seem as eventful. People already thought they were born again. I bet there are unbelieving friends in our lives who we have not shared the Gospel with because we can’t see what difference it’ll make. They are already good people and better than most Christians. We probably think God will reconsider them and be moved by their “goodness”. But is that right?

The Bible says All Men are Wicked

The Bible has a different view of such people. It still calls them sinners desperately in need of the Gospel. And not only them even the little innocent children we call angels. It says all men, and that means all men, are wicked, see Romans 3:10-12. That the hearts of unregenerate men manufacture evil even from the best of us, see Mark 7:20-23. Can you believe that? What’s wrong with the Bible? Do you mean the Mother Teresas of this world have not done enough to earn salvation? What about that guy who never hurt anyone and always provided for his family? That man who rescued many homeless children. That woman who served his family wholeheartedly while living with an abusive husband? She too won’t be reconsidered? She too is evil?

The truth is at first many people seem good when looking from a human perspective. The reason we struggle to share the story of that good fellow who became a Christian is that we don’t see his heart. We cannot see how he too should be classified with other wretched sinners. But if we did a moral scan of his heart we would see his self-centeredness, his pride, anger, evil thoughts, and pure hypocrisy. The problem is we value people by what they’ve done outwardly and judge them as good. We use the litmus test of our society not what God sees and says in his word. Because of this many cannot accept that God will send good people to hell. They might be convinced the corrupt politician deserves it but not the philanthropist who rejected the Gospel. Surely God cannot judge them the same way.

What about Good Christians?

It is worse when Christians believe this lie. When we think that now that we have believed especially after we were already good people we no longer need the Gospel. When we convince ourselves to be okay and only think of the Gospel in light of the obviously wicked men out there. I’m always amazed at how lacking we can be in our self-awareness. Many people honestly don’t think they need the Gospel. But the man who cannot see how short they fall before the grace of God is a man who doesn’t know himself and doesn’t know God. It should be the case that as we read the word we see our own sin even more profoundly and the need for the Gospel more clearly. I think more Christians should come out of a Gospel sharing broken by their sin however small it seems to the public eye and overjoyed by the mercy of God who died to save sinners like us.

The tragedy of good men is that they are gods to themselves. They judge themselves and render themselves worthy in front of their own eyes. They are self-righteous men who don’t believe they need salvation. When the Gospel is preached they think about other men seeing that they don’t need such a desperate rescue. They prepare sermons for others, they do discipleship with others in mind and when the call to service comes they think you should speak to another as they are doing well already. If our Gospel sharing doesn’t have these people in mind in a country that is largely Christian then we’ll have missed the dark forest for the obvious bad tree. Good men need the Gospel like everyone else and we need to work even harder to show them this need.

Need for Self Introspection

In a world full of distractions and voices that tell us exactly what we need to hear it’s hard to do a regular self-evaluation of our lives, our motivations and the reality of the world within us. We can very easily come to believe in a better version of ourselves than we really are. The stories people tell us about ourselves especially if we are in positions of public ministry become the stories we believe about ourselves. Soon we start believing the lie that we have arrived, that God is lucky to have us on his side, and when we read the Bible we don’t hear the Spirit convicting us of our respectable sins. We become blind to who we are and what we need. We forget that we still have sin within us and the sanctifying Gospel is still our greatest need.

I pray that the day will never come when I outgrow my need for the Saviour and his Gospel message. I would rather I have too much Gospel, a constant reminder of my shortcomings than to fall on the pulpit of a good name. Can you imagine what a tragedy that would be? That my tomb reads here lies a good man only for my name to miss in the book of life? What a tragedy this will be? To build a profile with the world and yet miss the darkness of sin within. To stumble on respectable sins with the applause of public ministry. May the Lord help us because it’s very easy to miss this. May he quicken us to agree with John Newton that we are great sinners but Jesus is a great Saviour. Only then will we keep the word of God closer to our hearts and working in our lives not just being a tool for our ministry.

When a society goes to the dogs

It was disgusting to watch that incident at Forest road. The way that boda boda gang treated that lady goes against what’s human, what’s African and most importantly what’s Christian. That men can result to sexual harassment in response to accidental wrong is unthinkable. The video alone is enough to leave you traumatized, imagine what’s happening to that lady. Only the Lord can heal such a wound.

But while this incident should call for decisive action on the perpetrators I think we also need to do serious soul searching as a society. Where are we headed if one cannot walk safely on our roads? And it’s not just because of such violence, it’s literally hard to walk or drive on our roads with boda boda coming from every side with no regard to law or common decency. Where are we headed if hooliganism and gender based violence becomes order of the day? If the social fibre is broken then the hard law should be imposed lest sin imprisons us all as a country.

But we need to ask, who are these children we are bringing up with no respect for human dignity? Who are their role models? What are we passing on? Are we doing anything to counter negative influences? For a country that boasts Christian majority how come we have so little Christian semblance? Are we even a society or just accidental acquitances with no regard for the other person? If the Gospel doesn’t tell me to value the other person at least as I do myself what do I have? I think we need serious work to rebuild our society as Kenyans and especially as Christians. We seriously need the Gospel to work in our people and change one man at a time. If not now then for the future before it’s worse and out of our hands.

We also need to be careful with the seeds we are sowing today. With the comments we make and the divisions we are causing. If we’ll go to any lengths to pursue what we deem right with no regard to human law or dignity then we’ve lost any humanness in us. Worse if we are Christian and the only person that concerns us is ourselves and those in our gang then we’ve lost the faith. I think this incidence is but a tip of a society that has killed any sense of common good and interest of others. We are a society that celebrates self, idolizes our brand and will crush anyone who tries to come between us and our idols. It’s a shame that we even proudly share this in the public space. And when chicken come to roost we’ll not believe what we have become.

This incident made me ask some serious questions. I thought blaming boda boda guys isn’t enough though this a menace that demands immediate action. But I also think the problem is broader and one that involves all of us. For a son, a brother, cousin, husband, future father, neighbor and citizen I wondered what I’m I doing to pursue the good of others not just my own and those that concern me? Can people feel safe when they pass me by the road? How do I look at the opposite gender? What comments do I make and what signals do I send? For the many I walk with in the Christian faith, what values I’m I teaching and modelling? Is the Gospel of my confession true in my lifestyle? Unless we take this issue personally, see it right to its roots and commit to change one man at a time and society as a whole, things will only get worse.

My prayer as a Christian is the Lord Jesus would comform me and the men among us to his nature. That like with him others would be safe and happy around us. May he remake us like the Philippians 2 model man who seeks not his own interests first but those of others even at his own expense. May he kill the sense of pride that says I’m right and my rights come first. May he help us not only prioritise our burdens but carry those of others.

I have sought to end this in prayer because I know how sinful and selfish I am. Though I know what the Bible calls me to do, selfishness wouldn't let me. Until we die to self like he did we will always put ourselves first at the expense of others. Only the man who follows Jesus is safe to walk by. Only such men will raise children with true biblical values. Only such men will make a safe society for women and other men. And it is only that true and practical Gospel that can save us.

Burn the old Bridge


If we keep looking over our past
Imagining what would have been
Wondering if we are missing out
Longing for what this body craves
Soon we’ll forget the chains of the old slave master
We’ve got to burn that bridge so we never look back


If we keep playing with the fire
Entertaining that old man of sin
Feeding him when he beckons us
Calling it a small slip into old habits
Soon those habits will become our lives
We’ve got to kill that old man and do it daily


How easily we forget the pains of slavery
It fades in our minds and says it wasn’t that bad
There were good things in Egypt we tell ourselves
Looking back on that bridge life doesn’t look so bad
But we should have burnt it when we closed over
We should never make peace with the old man of sin


We will never see what awaits us if we keep looking back
If our gaze is on the old life the new one will fade away
We will make sin into an idol of worship
We will trade off our priceless salvation
But soon we’ll realise how mistaken we are
Burn that bridge down and turn your gaze ahead


Look to the one who freed you from slavery
Look at the peace and joy he gives you in him
See what fellowship we enjoy with him
Walk this new bridge of life everlasting
Walk the path that brings you closer to him
Let you attention be on what he says in his word


Lord help us to kill the love of sinning
Give us your love for righteousness
Cause us to use our energy and time for you
To build bridges for the kingdom that lasts
To demolish ties with Satan and the world
And walk the narrow path that leads to life


The old man of Darkness


When I walked in darkness it was my imagination that led me
I saw things dimly but got used to this world of darkness
I heard others whisper around me and knew I wasn’t alone
We were in this together and somehow that brought comfort


So we walked trying to figure out the way
But the more we stayed shut in the more we got used to this
Soon we knew how to live without light
We had become like bats and were okay with that


You’d have been struck hearing us plan the future
We had forgotten our greatest need for light
And we were content figuring life on our own
I dare say we now hated the light and rejoiced in darkness


When the flashlight lit the room our eyes couldn’t bear it
We were used to the darkness, how were we to handle such light?
But more importantly how were we to live in this new world?
Before we knew what we wanted but now everything had changed


If he didn’t hold my hand I doubt I would have come out
Many are those who chose to shut their eyes ignoring the light
So often I find myself going back to that habit
Choosing the darkness instead of his marvelous light


Now I am a child of the light but I live in a world of darkness
Lord if you didn’t hold my hand I would quickly shut my eyes
Teach my heart to love the light of the Gospel
To walk this new life with the torch of your Word


Hold my hand Lord for my heart is prone to wander and hide
The old man of darkness keeps knocking at my door
I would have him totally destroyed yet he seems to resurrect daily
Grant me the grace and strength to also kill him daily


I long for that day when the darkness will be no more
When my eyes will close and never see that old man again
I crave for the world above where your light rules the day
Lord, keep my gaze on that day when I see your light forever


Kill all my evil loves Lord!


You cannot truly love someone if other loves exists
Ours is not a truly generous heart but a selfish one
It says I can love all these and still love you
But true love sacrifices other loves for the one love
And none loves God truly who still holds on to his idols


Lord I seek that I would love you above everything
To love you more than the loves of this heart
But so often I hear the lie within saying I can do it all
That I can have you, my comfort, my sin and my idols
The loves of my heart won’t die easily and yet they must


When I stay in the reading of your Word I see your great love
You who left heaven, your comfort and security for this heart
Yet she won’t leave her loves behind to fully embrace you
I need help Lord for my loves hold so tightly on me
They lie to me I can love them and still love you


There are days I find great conquest on this heart
Times I feel I have killed all the enemies of my soul
Those times I hate my loves and life itself
But soon I realize they were not dead but only asleep
Only you can help me to kill these dear loves of my heart


I give you full permission lord, kill these evil loves
Conquer this heart with your word that I may love you truly
To love you not only with my lips but my heart and deeds
Make the loves of my heart the love of your commands
Give me a true love of you by killing all my other loves


When praying is hard


It is in our weaknesses he’s most sufficient
In our desperation he gives great comfort
And while the world crumbles he’s a sure rock
But it’s not always easy to walk up to him
At times we find it hard to knock his door
Many times we hide from our only helper
To do everything but seek him in prayer


It’s not out of ignorance we remain silent
No, we know we’ve nowhere else to run
Sometimes we’ve tried everything else
But the pride in us says I can handle it
Tomorrow I’ll pick myself up and fix it
I’ll rid myself of this need once and for all
Only it never works and we know it, don’t we?


Sometimes it’s the guilt of our self righteousness
We judge him by our own expectations
How would he receive us back we wonder
But he’s no fellow man and we know it
He knows us and yet chose to love us in Christ
If it was merit that opens his door none would ever enter
No, it’s the needy men like us that he embraces by grace


Lord forgive the trespass of seeing you like fellow men
The sin to think you only accept me when I do well
How low I would bring you to bribe you with my deeds
But you see me in Christ and draw closer in my need
Help me kill this pride that hides in good deeds
Crown me with the humility that prayer requires
Show me how desperate I am without you


Teach me to see you as a father not merely a teacher
To see I don’t need to earn favor to meet you
So often I go back to that old religion of works
But I would have the Gospel of grace bring me to you
Grant me the spirit of a child to run without care to my father
The humility to look to you first in my need
And a heart that sees my desperate need of you


Teach me the Gospel everyday


Lord forbid that I should lose the wonder of the Gospel
To see a sinner so wretched forgiven and loved so dearly
A self righteous man made aware of his filthy rags
Teach me this Gospel everyday for I forget it daily


When the Word falls from my heart
The comfort of this globe sets in so quickly
When my eyes forget to look to you daily
My ears are drawn to the noise around me easily


When daily devotion is not my normal habit
The old man of sin sanitized in Christian activity takes control
I become a very sick sinner who looks okay
I say the right words but murmur inside


Forbid that in the frontline of ministry I should forget what I need
That I should teach others the Gospel but forget my need of it
Help me to kill the man of sin, the proud man within
Give me the humility to see my great need of you daily


Teach me the wretchedness of sin even of my little sins
Give me the gratitude of the Gospel to stand amazed daily
Forbid that I should make my good works my hope
Give me the assurance of the blood that paid fully my debt


Take back this life you gave and conform it to my saviour
Though my will and desire fight you yet I know your will is best
Teach me to kill sin daily and to abound in your good works
Forbid that the comfort of this life would rob me the joy of service


Teach me the Gospel everyday for I need it like the first day
Remind me daily of my great sin even as I grow older in salvation
Forbid that a day will come to think I’ve graduated from this need
Peg my heart to your Word to see my great Saviour everyday


The Gospel for a Hustler Nation


One of the fears we have as a people is to imagine that either our leaders don’t know our situation or they simply don’t care. It’s double tragedy to imagine they’d careless about our fate and instead only favour their peers. It’s painful, it makes us angry knowing we put them there but hopeless when we realize we can’t change things.

So when one finally walks down our path and says I know what you are facing that in itself is great news. It says they see our plight and all they need is to show they are genuine. To make us believe the era of the Messiah has come with them. That with them in office our pain will be a sad history. That finally something will change and however big or small a change we all want it.

To know we are known and someone cares is the greatest asset for a human heart. To know our leaders knows our plight and will do something about it sells us hope and what’s more precious than hope? But critics will ask, how many times have we had this narrative before? And what makes us think this time it will be any different? Was there a politician who didn’t seem to share our plight and promise change?

Now here is where things get tricky. You see a good portion of us will lean on hope no matter what history says. It’s the last coin in our pockets and we have to treasure it. If we lose it we’d have to kill ourselves. The instict of survival in us holds on to hope when everything else fails. And if the other side isn’t selling a better deal to us then we have no other choice.

Unfortunately if we looked back we’d know better and that more blown out promises have been made by many politicians before. That a man who wants an office and desperately so will say anything our ears want to hear. A man who wants a girl has no problem going down their knee. And our history is full of the promises of politicians both those in government and in opposition.

I’m not trying to use this post to discredit a certain party or favour another candidate. I don’t want to make us feel hopeless if anything I hold to hope like there’s nothing better. But I would always say be suspicious of politicians because in truth all of them actually do know our plight. Don’t be deceived they don’t know what’s happening perhaps they may not be as invested but they all know. They’ve got foot soldiers on the ground and honestly it doesn’t take a genius to know our suffering. You just need to turn on the news. The question is how genuine is their proposal?

Unfortunately I don’t trust the ruling class or even the opposition blindly because I wouldn’t trust any man blindly not even myself. I want to look back and see consistency of care and concern. I want to see there’s some shred of honesty in a manifesto not merely inflated promises. Sometimes I think going against the grain and playing the long game instead of blindly replacing the status quo might be the key to change.

But there’s always a risk in politics that any one leader however well measured will ultimately fail us. Power has a way to blind and change people and man is not that trustworthy either. In the end we need more than someone who seems to identify with us and appears genuine. We need someone without the disease of all men that in the end cares for their own welfare. Here’s where democracy fails us because we need more than one of us for a better leader.

It’s the one who came down to face our plight with us that can truly say they know us. But it’s the one who is unlike us in our selfishness who can actually help us. One who sees our plight, puts down his pride and washes our feet. We need one like us but better than us. One who sympathises with our weaknesses but can truly help us. One who’s proved genuine and trustworthy.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll find him in the next election but it means our future is guaranteed either way. It means we can still lean on hope though our choices down here are likely to fail us. We have true hope in him not in the lies from every election year. In him there’s no risk of corrupting power. We have hope in one who walked the earth and rose to rule in the heavens. One who truly saw and acted for the plight of the oppressed and is concerned with the least of us. We have Jesus who is God and man, a leader we can truly trust in. He says,

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

John 10 NIV.