Overcoming Sin Is Like Learning to Ride a Bike
My daughter’s experience learning to ride a bike reminds me of the process of overcoming our faults. Her tenacity, perseverance and zeal can inspire us all!
One of the toughest things about overcoming anything is the aspect of trial and error, success and failure. Often we can see what we want to achieve, but the obstacles in the way can seem like too much to overcome.
Sin is described as lawlessness (1 John 3:4), breaking the commandments of God. When we recognize that the Son of God died to pay the penalty for our sins, we want to avoid any further sin (Romans 6:11-14) and we should stop sinning immediately. However, it often takes time to change the attitudes that led to sinful behavior in the past.
Overcoming a bad habit involves setting a goal to better ourselves. Then, with the help of God’s Spirit, we set out to reach that goal, and that is when the real tests of our fortitude and determination begin. When we start to remove a bad habit from our lives, that sin often becomes more apparent than it has ever been. We begin to see what we often overlooked for years. We wish to get rid of it, but there it is again and again!
Like learning to ride a bike
Almost every kid wants to learn how to ride a bike. My oldest daughter was no exception. One summer we made it a priority to finally get a bike and put ourselves on the path to reach that goal.
It was a daunting task for both of us. I had never taught anyone to ride a bike, and she had never ridden one. We were both going into this with similar fear and apprehension.
We may also have fears as we commit to overcoming sin. Thankfully, though, God is our guide when learning to overcome sin, and He has a proven and well-documented track record in helping others. We can confidently ask Him to show us what we need to do to overcome sin.
The first try
My daughter was very shaky and unsure of herself when she got on her little pink bike for the first time without training wheels. The nervous look on her face showed how much she realized that this time it was for real—there was no chance of going back to those training wheels from now on.
She grabbed those handlebars with her tightest grip ever as I began to walk briskly, holding onto the bike as she tried to pedal up to speed. She poured her heart into it and all her strength.
When I let go, I was prepared for the worst. I watched as gravity overtook her despite all she did, and she crashed to the ground a few paces ahead of me. Her face was full of tears, and she was discouraged by this painful start. We had to set our hearts and minds on trying again soon.
Overcoming sin the first time can be the same as doing something we have never done before. We may have lived with a sin so long that we have grown used to it, and it has become a part of us without realizing it. When we put the wheels in motion to overcome it, we realize there is no going back. We must reach the goal of ridding our life of the sin. If our first try is not successful, we are right back to where we began. We have to get back up and try again.
The last try
It was early August, at least five weeks after my daughter started to learn to ride a bike. During that time she had learned how to refine her balance, develop strength in her legs and arms and almost eliminate the fear of crashing to the ground (after doing so countless times).
I began this day’s lesson the same way I had nearly all of them. I told her to get on the bike, start pedaling and I would hold on and then let go. We had failed many times before, and I figured we would fail this day too—but there was a spark of optimism that “this could be the day!”
She got on and we moved together up the sidewalk. As she pedaled, it dawned on me that she was much stronger and more confident at that moment, and I saw the opportunity to let go. This time it was different. Instead of going a few yards and then rolling onto her foot to stop her fall, she kept going! She was finally riding a bike!
That first time was the big hurdle. Soon she improved her riding and pedaling until she didn’t need me to keep an eye on her and give her pointers any more. We were both satisfied we had reached the goal.
Even more interesting was later we learned that one of our neighbors had been watching us the whole time. When the day came, she, too, was jumping for joy when she saw my daughter finally reach her goal.
Overcoming sin is something God requires from us, since sin is so destructive and opposite of His way. The process of overcoming begins with the goal in mind and the determination to reach that goal, no matter what and no matter how often we fail along the way in trying to reach it.
God’s love, help and forgiveness are like His hands on our bike, and His Word is like the encouraging voice that keeps us trying. That voice today is found in His Bible, and it can be in our hearts and minds through His Holy Spirit. Through Him we can learn that we can use failures to strengthen our focus, our determination and eventually our success.
Along the way we can also learn that what we accomplish in the end can also encourage and strengthen others to rejoice in our achievements and to be inspired to attempt their own.
As the old saying goes, it is never too late to learn how to ride a bike!
For more about overcoming sin, see the sections on “Sin,” “Repentance” and “Christian Conversion.”