Four Steps to Kill Nagging Sins: Step 2

2. Starve it.

In one of my favorite films, a man is diagnosed with schizophrenia and told that several of his lifelong friends are actually not real. He genuinely misses talking to them but knows he must stamp out all delusions in order to move toward health. So he simply chooses to ignore them, calling it a “diet of the mind” — and as he does, they gradually recede in their influence over him. Even at the end of his life, he still sees the delusions, but they have lost their destructive power over him. There is a similar principle at work in our struggle against sin — the more we indulge in it, the more of a grip it gains over us (even while we understand that grip less and less). But, as with any addiction or animal, the less we feed it, the weaker it becomes. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Choose not to acknowledge your sinful desires — starve them of your affections and your attention, and they grow weaker. One of the most important principles involved in this starvation process is to act quickly: Don’t let sin get even the smallest step. Don’t say, “I will give in this much, but not that much.” That never works. As John Owen puts it: “Dost thou find thy corruption to begin to entangle thy thoughts? Rise up with all thy strength against it, with no less indignation than if it had fully accomplished what it aims at.”

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