Discerning: Sin or Not Sin?

A life with Jesus Christ means a commitment to live holy and to bring glory and honor to God all the days of your life in all that you do. As Peter writes and echoes God’s commandment to His people in 1 Peter 1: 15:

but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

1 Peter 1:15 NKJV

To live a life of holiness is not an option for the Christian, it is the way that we must live by abiding in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In this ever-changing and over complicated world we often have to wrestle with discerning what is sinful and what is not. About a few weeks ago, we had a discussion in my prayer group about how to discern in order to abide in God’s holiness. In life, we face temptations, tests and trials that can force us to give in to sinful acts but God’s grace avails to rescue us from being held bound in the sinful acts.

Sin is the gateway the enemy uses to encroach on us and enslave us in his ways. The prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 59:1-2

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened,
That it cannot save;
Nor His ear heavy,
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear.

Isaiah 59:1-2 NKJV

Hence, living a life of holiness keeps us connected to God, it allows us to experience God and live in the fullness of God’s joy, peace and love. Living holy should not feel like a burden rather it is a life of liberty in the Holy Spirit. It is a life of experiencing the fullness of God without the chains of the enemy.

Here are just a few practical ways, I have found to be helpful to live a life of holiness that brings glory and honor to God.

Keep God’s Word in Your Heart

Keeping the word of God in one’s heart is the best way to help discern and resist temptations. David affirms this truth when he wrote in Psalm 119: 11 “Your word (God’s Word) I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You (God).”. Soak in God’s word, meditate on its day and night and whenever you are faced with a situation, God’s word in your heart will minister to you in what to do. God’s word will light your path and tell you where to go, the voice of God will be clear in your Spirit and you will be able by God’s grace to yield to His word and abide in His holiness.

Apply Susanna Wesley’s Advice

I found what John Wesley’s mother shared with him to be truly powerful to discern as a believer in the choices and actions we take. In her an excerpt of a letter to John Wesley, Susanna wrote:

Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.

Susana Wesley (Mother of John Wesley)

In my understanding, sin is as Paul states in the Galatians 5:19 as works of the flesh. Apostle Paul names a few but not all to show the church some of the manifestations of the works of the flesh which can lead us astray. Here we can see, sin can be very personal and it is mostly based on the things in our lives that separates us from God and weakens our spirit. I believe as we all mature in our faith, God places more responsibilities in our path and some of it will require us to give up certain things in order to be faithful and committed to God.

Walk in the Spirit

Galatians 5:16 Paul wrote “16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. ” A life led by the Spirit yields the fruit of the Spirit : love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.- Galatians 5:23. Every believer in God has the Spirit of God as a seal of the Promise of God. The Holy Spirit helps us in all we do as believers and one of the ways He works in our lives to ensure that our lives reveal the life of Christ. As we walk in the Spirit, we chose the path God has ordained for us which is the path of righteousness (Psalm 23:1) which yields the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Spirit speaks to us always, tune into God through praying always and allow Him to lead you in your life. A prayerful person is someone who is tuned into God and such a person is able to walk in the Spirit.

AVOID a Do’s and Don’ts List

Making a Do’s and Don’ts list will NOT be helpful in living a holy life. In fact I will strongly discourage you from doing from making a list of Do’s and Don’ts, this will end up making you legalistic which will cause you miss the whole point of God’s grace and Christ being our righteousness. People often search the Bible to find a Do’s and Don’ts to try to avoid sins. But, the world keeps changing, there new things coming up in each and everyday, following a list of Do’s and Don’ts will cause you miss the guidance of the Holy Spirit and also miss the grace of God. This can result in making one stressed and worried with life and which can prevent one from enjoying the fullness of life that is found in Jesus Christ.

It is my prayer God will continue to help us as we seek to live holy lives. In sum let God’s word richly dwell in your heart, walk in the Spirit by being a person of prayer, and trust God’s grace to always help you in all that you do. Beloved in Christ always remember that Jesus Christ dearly loves you for He gave His life for you.

Image result for making a choice


  1. Definitely a hard task in this day and age…but also not so hard. Discerning…that’s exactly it, and if we are tender to the Holy Spirit and willing to obey, He readily speaks to our hearts and guides us in wisdom. Usually it is our desire to keep back some slightly unholy things because we enjoy them that keeps us struggling! Thank you for this blunt post full of truth!

    Liked by 1 person

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