Not Sinless, but We Can Sin Less


To pretend like we’ve got it all together when everybody knows we don’t is silly. In fact, the Bible calls it self-deception.

“If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8 NLT).

We all have parts of our lives that simply don’t work. Nobody measures up to a standard of perfection. To pretend like we’ve got it all together when everybody knows we don’t is silly. In fact, the Bible calls it self-deception.

You will never be sinless on this planet, but it is possible to sin less. So why is it so hard to change stuff in us that we really don’t like?

  1. Because we’ve done it our way for so long.

Some of our sinful defense mechanisms were developed in childhood, perhaps in resistance to pain or as a way to cope with stress. Even though these mechanisms are ultimately self-defeating, they’re at least familiar to us. They give us a sense of comfort and control. Because we’ve employed them for a long time, we get locked up in our thinking and assume there is no other way to navigate our circumstances.

  1. Because we identify with our defense mechanisms.

We often confuse our identity with our defense mechanisms or bad habits. When we see them as a natural part of who we are, we treat them as unchangeable, and that just sets us up for perpetual failure. For instance, someone who frequently flies off the handle in anger might excuse that behavior by saying, “That’s just the way I am.”

  1. Because our defense mechanisms have a payoff.

Whatever is rewarded gets repeated. Your defense mechanisms may mask your pain, cover up a fear, give you an excuse to fail, or compensate for guilt — that might be your payoff. They often work in the short term. But in the long run, these patterns will destroy your relationships.

  1. Because Satan discourages us.

Once you start trying to change something in your life, Satan will begin saying, “Who do you think you are? You’re never going to change. You haven’t been able to change in the past. Why do you think you’re going to be able to change now? It’s hopeless. It’s not going to work.” Those thoughts and fears are being planted in your mind by the Devil himself.

These things keep us from changing the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that we know are unhealthy.

So, what does it take to alter those deep patterns in our lives that we really don’t like?

The Bible says to throw these patterns away and let the Holy Spirit renew our way of doing things: “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God” (Ephesians 4:21-24 NLT).

Talk About It

Have you ever tried to change a bad habit in the past but felt discouraged? Why do you think you felt that way? How did you respond?

What defense mechanism do you perpetuate by thinking it is part of your makeup? Try changing your thinking: Instead of saying, “I’m a workaholic,” say, “I work too much.” Instead of saying, “I’m lazy,” say, “I have a tendency to put things off and procrastinate.”

Consider what this verse says to you about changing the way you live: “Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God” (Romans 6:14 The Message).

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This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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