How can believers avoid falling into sin? What are biblical ways to avoid it?
I hate to admit it, but the Bible backs me up. Before I was saved, I drank iniquity like bottled water. It’s just what sinners do…sin! A cow does what a cow is supposed to do, and for us who were born into sin, it’s just what we do. We must admit just what David admitted; “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). None of us are good and none of us seek after God; not even one of us (Rom 3:10-12), and just like you, I fall infinitely short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), but I suppose that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20). So our state is not hopeless, as long as we put our trust in Christ, If we have, then we can stand before God, but only because it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21).
Falling into Sin
I think a vast difference in my own life was when I was not saved, I sinned, and some sins, I just fell in, but instead of getting back up and dusting myself off, I not only didn’t get out of it, I swam around in it and enjoyed the water, but then after conversion, I still sinned, but I didn’t enjoy it. My conscience was troubled and I believe the Holy Spirit brought conviction. We all fall down and fall into sin, but the vast difference is we fall and get back up, while the unrepentant sinner basks in it and has no desire to get out of it. We do sin less after conversion, but we’ll never be sinless this side of heaven. It is not possible. When we had a man recently come into our church, he objected to our prayers where we referred to ourselves as sinners, and yet saints, so the man went away sad after I told him, “You’re not a sinner? That’s sad because Jesus came to die for sinners.” Now that we’ve seen we are sinners , we know we need the Savior, and after that, we still need help in avoiding temptation and falling into sin. The Bible does give us some help in this area.
Hiding His Word
The psalmist gives us some very good advice about avoiding sin, and it’s what he calls, hiding God’s Word in his heart. This simply means he memorized Scripture, and he apparently used this memory bank of the Word to keep him from sinning. The psalmist writes, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). If you store up something, you do it because you’ll need it later, and by storing up God’s Word in his heart (or mind), he can fall back on it to help him avoid temptation and sin. Did you notice he puts it as a cause and effect, by saying, “I have stored up your word in my heart” so “that I might not sin against” God. In fact, if “The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip” (Psalm 37:31). To avoid a slip is to avoid a fall, so some of the best advice is “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah” (Psalm 4:4). One great example is a couple of men who I counseled over the years for their addiction to pornography. I had them memorize Job 31:1 which says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” Every time they are tempted to look at pornography or see a compromising image on TV, the Internet, or in public, I ask them to recall his verse, and say to themselves, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” They nip it off right at the bud. I tell them this means they must immediately turn their eyes away because the eye gate is the gate to which sin enters in.
If Jesus prayed, how much more do we need it? That we can even do anything without Christ has already been established (John 15:5), and anything we can do is only through Christ Who will strengthen us, which is yet another way we can avoid sin (Phil 4:13), but prayer is the hotline to heaven and it’s the 911 call when temptation hits. If we fall on our knees the moment we’re tempted to sin or when it enters our mind, we can call upon Him Who alone can save us out of this, and help us avoid falling into sin. If you have temptation, pray, recall Scripture, and ask for God’s Spirit to help you.
The Bible teaches that bad company corrupts. You don’t have to be a sociologist to know that because we tend to become like those around us, but in a similar fashion, if we’re keeping company with godly people, they’ll not likely lead us into places where we’re tempted to sin. On the other hand, bad company can pressure us to go places where we’d not normally go when alone or if we’re with other believers. The company you keep says a lot about you, good or bad, so we need to be careful with who are spend time with. After a while, we’ll start acting like them, and as I said before, that can be either good or bad.
Dwell on Good Things
The Apostle Paul once wrote, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8). It’s not exactly replacement theory, but it does help to dwell on things like this. For me, when I’m tempted, I sometimes turn on some worship music , and the moment I hear the music, the temptation tends to go away.
One of the most effective methods there is for those overcoming pornography addictions is to have an accountability partner. One person is established an accountability partner, and that person either calls or has the person call them and asks for a daily or semi-weekly account of how their battle is going. Did they fall again or have they avoided viewing anything pornographic? If they say yes, then you can rejoice. Every day is a victory, but if they lie to the accountability partner and have in fact viewed pornographic material, then they’ll be loaded down with guilt upon guilt. It’s one thing to fall, but another to add a lie on top of that. Most men I’ve worked with can’t do that…it finally catches up with them and the spill their guts and tears in confessing it. The Bible does teach we are to help one another, encourage one another, and admonish one another. Christianity is not done in isolation because we need one another, so “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25).
How can Christians avoid falling into sin? The truth is, they can’t. We do better over time, but we are still going to fall from time to time, and everyone’s growth is different from another’s. Yes, we will still sin, but we have God’s Word as a source of power, we have prayer as a source of power, we have godly people whom we can be with, we have powerful worship music we can worship God with, we can dwell on things that are pure and commendable, and we have the Spirit of God, another source of power. We’ll never be perfect here on earth, but that day is coming when we can all be saved to sin no more. Hallelujah for that!
Take a look at this related article: What Does Being “Free From Sin” Mean? 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.