How can I overcome sin?

Everyone has sinned. How can you overcome your sins and find forgiveness?


As explained in another Bible FAQ , sin is defined by the Bible as breaking God’s law. But how can you overcome sin and live by God’s way?

First you have to come to realize that you broke God’s law and sinned. This isn’t just about acknowledging that you did the wrong thing against God’s will. Read what John the apostle wrote in one of his letters to a church congregation: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John:1:9). Realizing our own sin involves admitting our faults to ourselves and confessing our sins in prayer to God.

After confessing the sin, sincerely ask God to forgive you. Peter wrote that God wants all people to “come to repentance” (2 Peter:3:9). So have confidence in approaching God and asking him for forgiveness (Hebrews:4:16).

The next step is very important. Ask God to help you not commit that sin anymore. When we repent of sin it means that we change our minds —our way of thinking. This leads to a change in the way we act.

What do you do once you’ve recognized your sin, confessed it to God and are working on repenting of your sins? Peter’s sermon at the first New Testament Pentecost explained the next step in the process of overcoming sin: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts:2:38, emphasis added).

For someone trying to live by every word of God (Matthew:4:4), baptism is the next step in living a new life of repentance and overcoming sin. Scripture shows the need for the indwelling of Christ’s life to fully live a righteous life. To learn more please read our free online booklet Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion.


Frederik's picture

If one knows the sins then he can repent and can be forgiven, he can choose to avoid from committing a particular sin or sins again. However, if he does not know what to avoid, if he does not know he is violating a particular commandment of God, then he can sin again and again without knowing that he is sinning. Can he be forgiven on the basis of ignorance? No. There is no such thing as exemption due to ignorance! If one violates a commandment, he becomes dirty in the eyes of the Lord and he goes to Hell when he dies. Therefore, the first step to repentance and subsequent avoidance is knowing what the sins are. There is a checklist of sins available at **Links removed to comply with comment policy** The following are examples from the list:

JOHN 3:16 - Believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior.

MATTHEW 22:37-40 - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Love others as yourself.

DEUTERONOMY 5:6-21 - Have no other gods but the true living God. Have no idols, do not kneel before them or worship them. Do not take the name of God in vain. Take care to keep holy the sabbath day. Honor your father and your mother. Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false testimony. Do not desire another’s wife or anything that is his.

AMOS 5:12; MATTHEW 26:14-15 - Do not give or take bribes.

2 CORINTHIANS 4:2 - Be honest.

EPHESIANS 4:26 - If you get angry do not sin, and do not let your anger last until the end of the day.

MATTHEW 5 - Be humble. Be meek. Be hungry and thirsty for righteousness. Be merciful. Have a clean heart. Be a peacemaker. Do not be angry without a cause. Do not insult others. Do not say “Fool!” to others. Be reconciled with your adversary quickly. Do not look at a woman with lustful intent. Do not separate your wife except for marital unfaithfulness. Do not marry a woman who was separated. Do not swear by the heavens, earth, Jerusalem nor by your head. Say yes when you mean yes, and say no when you mean no. Do not oppose evil with evil. Give to anyone who asks. Do not turn your back on anyone who wants to borrow. Love your enemies and pray for their enlightenment.

MATTHEW 6 - Give alms unnoticeably. Pray in secret. Forgive those who sinned against you, If you do not forgive others, then God will not forgive you.

The 10 Commandments are not all.

Ivan Veller

Ivan Veller's picture

Hello Frederik,

“[W]hile we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…we shall be saved” (Rom:5:8-9 KJV). As we each deeply understand, Christ – our High Priest – “can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray” (Heb:5:2a NKJV; see Heb:4:15) in accordance with divine law: “So the priest shall make atonement for him regarding his ignorance in which he erred and did not know it, and it shall be forgiven him” (Lev:5:18b). Again: “the priest is to make atonement for the entire community…and they will be forgiven for inadvertent sins…Then the entire community…will be forgiven…since all the people will have sinned inadvertently” (Num:15:25-26 ISV). “LORD, if you punished people for all their sins, no one would be left alive. But you forgive” (Ps:130:3-4a, ERV 2008) and will provide “atonement for any person…who sins through ignorance” (Ezk. 45:20 ESV). “For if we sin willfully after” – after – “we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb:10:26 NKJV). “[A] partial hardening has come upon Israel, until…all Israel will be saved…that he may have mercy on all” (Rom:11:25-32, ESV 2011).

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34a KJV). Likewise, Stephen “knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin!’ (Ac. 7:60a, HCSB 2009). Paul (present then) wrote, “In the past I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. But I received mercy because I acted ignorantly in my unbelief… I received mercy, so that in me, as the worst sinner…Jesus might demonstrate all of his patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life” (1 Tim:1:13-16, ISV 2010).

'In 'times of ignorance,' …people haven't yet had an opportunity to know the truth and repent and change" (UCG, “The Second Resurrection: Humanity's Opportunity for Salvation!” bible study guide, Lesson 15).

“His plan includes time for all of humanity to learn critical lessons from personal choices” (Foster 2007, “God's Plan to End Evil and Suffering”).

“Surely a loving Father would not doom most people to the fiery hell preached by most churches. In fact, He does not doom ignorant people to hell. He has a plan that provides all with ample opportunity to choose to live forever” (McCullough 1997, “Is Everyone Being Judged Now?”).


Tholp1's picture

We are in this shell called earth because God feels we need to learn powerful lessons before we get out there in his world. God is not going to let the ideals of this world stirred by Satan the devil, come into his realm. That's why Satan has been thrown out. He is the master of sin. I totally respect what the Father has done. Think of it. If we lived in the Father's house with the ideals of this world, we would suffer forever. He does not want us to suffer here on earth(but we do), and out in his world either. I am glad of his plan of salvation because it works far greater than any human(Satan inspired)plan.

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