The harlot in your bosom!
(Thomas Watson, "The Godly Man's Picture Drawn with a Scripture Pencil")
"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1
There is usually one sin that is the favorite — the sin which the heart is most fond of. A godly man will not indulge his darling sin: "I kept myself from my iniquity." (Psalm 18:23). "I will not indulge the sin to which the bias of my heart more naturally inclines."
"Fight neither with small nor great — but only with the king." (1 Kings 22:31). A godly man fights this king sin. If we would have peace in our souls, we must maintain a war against our favorite sin, and never leave off until it is subdued.
Question: How shall we know what our beloved sin is?
Answer 1. The sin which a man does not love to have reproved — is the darling sin. Herod could not endure having his incest spoken against. If the prophet meddles with that sin — it shall cost him his head! "Do not touch my Herodias!" Men can be content to have other sins reproved — but if the minister puts his finger on the sore, and touches this sin — their hearts begin to burn in malice against him!
Answer 2. The sin on which the thoughts run most — is the darling sin. Whichever way the thoughts go, the heart goes. He who is in love with a person cannot keep his thoughts off that person. Examine what sin runs most in your mind, what sin is first in your thoughts and greets you in the morning — that is your predominant sin.
Answer 3. The sin which has most power over us, and most easily leads us captive — is the one beloved by the soul. There are some sins which a man can better resist. If they come for entertainment, he can more easily put them off. But the bosom sin comes as a suitor, and he cannot deny it — but is overcome by it. The young man in the Gospel had repulsed many sins — but there was one sin which soiled him, and that was covetousness.
Mark what sin you are most readily led captive by — that is the harlot in your bosom! It is a sad thing that a man should be so bewitched by lust, that if it asks him to part with the Kingdom of Heaven — he must part with it, to gratify that lust!
Answer 4. The sin which men most defend — is the beloved sin. He who has a jewel in his bosom, will defend it to his death. The sin we advocate and dispute for, is the besetting sin. The sin which we plead for, and perhaps wrest Scripture to justify it — that is the sin which lies nearest the heart.
Answer 5. The sin which a man finds most difficulty in giving up — is the endeared sin. Of all his sons, Jacob found most difficulty in parting with Benjamin. So the sinner says, "This and that sin I have parted with — but must Benjamin go! Must I part with this delightful sin? That pierces my heart!" A man may allow some of his sins to be demolished — but when it comes to one sin — that is the taking of the castle; he will never agree to part with that! That is the master sin for sure.
The besetting sin is, of all others, most dangerous. As Samson's strength lay in his hair — so the strength of sin lies in this beloved sin. This is like a poison striking the heart, which brings death.
A godly man will lay the axe of repentance to this sin and hew it down! He will sacrifice this Isaac; he will pluck out this right eye — so that he may see better to go to Heaven.