The Plain Truth 
January, 1968 
 
 
                       HOW TO PREVENT SIN 
                     by Herbert W. Armstrong 
 
Do YOU realize that if it is wrong to DO a certain thing, it is 
wrong to harbor THOUGHTS of that thing in your mind? 
     "ALL have sinned," says the Scripture. 
     What IS sin, anyway? 
     Satan ought to know -- and he is the invisible influence who 
sways the course of this world. Hollywood is considered by many 
as the world's mecca of sin. On the newsstands in Hollywood may 
be found a very worldly booklet, written in a very light, 
"breezy," and satirical vein, titled "How to Sin in Hollywood." 
It gives a very worldly definition of sin -- perhaps the 
definition of the very Devil who devotes his time to enticing 
people into it. The definition is expressive, and not far from 
the truth. Here it is: "Sin is THINKING THOUGHTS you ought not to 
be thinking about things you ought not to be DOING while you are 
THINKING that kind of THOUGHTS." 
     God's definition is: "Sin is the transgression of the law" 
(I John 3:4). The law of "LOVE," as defined by the Ten 
Commandments. Jesus said: "That which cometh out of the man, that 
defileth the man. For from within, OUT of the heart of men, 
proceed EVIL THOUGHTS adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, 
covetousness [violations of the law -- the Ten Commandments] ..." 
(Mark 7:20-22). 
     "ALL have sinned," says the Scripture. And what man -- 
especially what Christian, is there who has not time and again 
experienced the struggle against sin described by the Apostle 
Paul? "What I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do 
would not, that I do." Who is there who has not LOST that 
struggle, perhaps many times? 
     Of course no man, of himself, can live above sin. "With men 
it IS impossible," said Jesus, "but with God all things are 
possible." And Paul continues (Rom. 8) to show that the only 
DELIVERANCE from this body of death is through Jesus Christ, and 
the indwelling power of God's Holy Spirit -- "that the 
RIGHTEOUSNESS of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not 
after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God, they are the sons 
of God." 
     Yes, but we have OUR part in it, too. And it all centers in 
the MIND. 
     REPENTANCE of sin means, literally, to CHANGE one's MIND in 
respect to sin. If we repent, and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour, 
the promise is we SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ... 
"and be renewed in the Spirit of YOUR MIND" (Eph. 4:23) -- the 
presence of the Holy Spirit is the RENEWING of THE MIND. 
     How does sin actually happen? "... every man is TEMPTED when 
he is drawn away of his own lust [desire], and enticed. Then when 
lust [the desire IN THE MIND] hath conceived, it bringeth forth 
sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 
1:14-15). 
     The TEMPTATION is in the MIND. When you THINK about the 
thing that tempts you -- let your mind dwell on it -- turn it 
over in your mind -- whether it be a desire to GO some place, to 
DO something, or to HAVE something you know is wrong -- that 
THINKING ABOUT IT finally conceives -- leads to ACTION -- and 
breeds SIN. You finally DO the thing you kept thinking about, 
wanting to do. If you keep thinking about it, after a while 
you'll be UNABLE to resist it. That's why you've lost so many of 
these struggles against sin -- you kept THINKING about it, 
desiring it, wanting it. 
     The way to prevent sin is to let God's Spirit fill the mind. 
"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" 
(Col. 3:2). 
     The way to put a thing OUT of the mind is to put an OPPOSITE 
thought IN the mind. So often I have noticed parents of babies 
strive so hard to "shush" up the baby when it is crying in 
church. There's something in the baby's mind that is causing its 
crying or fretting. Just saying "shush!" or commanding the baby 
to stop fussing doesn't usually get very good results. We have 
raised four children, and long ago I learned the trick of 
quieting the baby by GETTING ITS MIND ON SOMETHING ELSE. Instead 
of commanding it to stop crying, attract its attention with some 
new object -- get it interested in playing with that object (I 
have often used my fountain pen with excellent results) -- and 
before you know it the child will forget all about its crying. 
     Try using this same method on yourself. But instead of 
material or worldly things, a mature person should use 
self-discipline and set his mind on spiritual things. Open your 
Bible. Put the study of some SPIRITUAL subject in your mind. Next 
time you are tempted, try it. Pray over it. Ask God to help you. 
See how rapidly you begin to win the victory over temptation and 
sin, and how marvelous will be your spiritual and CHARACTER 
growth.