A Besetting Sin
A reader asks for a definition of “besetting sin.”
What … is a “besetting sin?” Are there different types of sin, or is sin an inclusive? What is sin anyway? Does it have anything to do with missing the bull’s eye?
Theologically speaking, sin is a transgression of divine law and an offense against God. For the nonbeliever, sin can be a violation of a moral principle, or merely a violation of some standard of taste or propriety.
Hester and Dimmesdale committed a sin that did not intentionally hurt anyone but their own souls,
Nicolas Sarkozy has committed the sin of voluntarism
THE 1913 Natives Land Act is considered by many people to be SA’s original political sin
The verb of which besetting is the participle form means “to surround with hostile intent; to set upon, attack, assault on all sides.” For example,
The fox was beset by hounds.
St. Anthony was beset by demons.
Believers are beset with sin.
In the expression besetting sin, however, the word “besetting” seems to mean “chief” or “principal.” Judging from usage, a besetting sin is one to which a particular individual is particularly susceptible.
A besetting sin is one to which on account of our constitution, or circumstance or both, we are peculiarly exposed, and into which we most easily and most frequently fall.
In the life of every individual, there is a “besetting” sin that can tower like a mountain between the individual and God.
Pastor John has a good word for those who battle the besetting sin of worry.
Prodigality is nearly as much the besetting sin of youth as avarice is the besetting sin of age;
Evelyn Waugh observed: Prince of Darkness is a magnificent study of sloth—a sin which has not attracted much attention of late and which, perhaps, is the besetting sin of the age.
Tolerating intolerance is still this country’s besetting sin
The expression besetting sin derives from a verse in the New Testament:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us… –Hebrews 12:1 KJV
Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips and get a free eBook!
- Our weekly newsletter is free (one email per week, on Tuesdays)
- You will improve your English, guaranteed.
- Get our "100 Writing Mistakes to Avoid" eBook free.