If any of these five signs apply to your current situation, no matter how involved you are in your church, or how Godly the people around you think you are, you are not in the will of God, and sin is controlling you. It is time to draw up under your Savior.
As believers, we struggle against sin and temptation. There will never be a time in our lives when we will not be striving against it. However, fighting against sin is one thing; sin having control is quite another. Sin can quickly gain power in our lives if we are not diligent. This is why John Owen said, ‘Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” In his book, The Mortification of Sin, Owen does us an excellent service by providing us with five signs that sin has a stronghold on us. Take a minute to look through the following list. If you recognize any of these patterns in your life, be sure that you are in a dangerous condition of sin.
1. You have a besetting sin that is constant and unlikely to change.
I will not bother to give examples of besetting sins. If you have one, your mind went to it the minute you read the heading. Look over the past five years. As you think about your struggle with this sin, can you see any improvement at all? Sanctification may be slow work at times, but it does happen. If you cannot see any change in your relationship to that sin, and it looks as if it is unlikely to change in the near future, you need to see your condition as serious; especially if the pattern of sin is getting worse.
2. You have secret pleas of the heart to approve of your sin.
As you think about the desire for the sin in your life, have you ever thought, “I could do this whenever I wanted if I did not take this Christian thing so seriously.” Or perhaps you have asked yourself, “Is my interpretation of scripture too ridged? Certainly, something so natural cannot be so bad.” Maybe it has progressed to the point where you are thinking, “Maybe you need to change churches, other, more liberal, congregations see this as normal, and they let their people enjoy it.” If these thoughts are crossing your mind, realize that sin at work, and it is attempting to move you away from Christ. This could be the beginning of a drift toward apostasy. Most people who have left the faith have done so for this reason. They have listened to the secret cries of sin in their heart.