“I did it again. I can’t believe that I just did that again. Ugh, I hate myself. Why would I do that?”
If you’ve walked with Christ for any length of time, you’ve been in this spot. You’ve broken God’s law (that’s sin). And now you’re upset, ashamed, and frustrated. You hate what you did, but you know that you can’t undo it. What now?
God has encapsulated our next steps in Proverbs 16:6 –
“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
~ Proverbs 16:6
We feel dirty, and we want to be purged (or have our sin covered over). It will take mercy and truth for that.
1. Realize that God has given you mercy.
Mercy is when God withholds punishment that we deserve. Ever been speeding and were pulled over by a police officer? Did he or she let you go with just a warning instead of a ticket? Then, you’ve received mercy. You were speeding and deserved the ticket & fine, but you didn’t get it. That’s mercy.
If God is just, righteous, and holy (and He is), how can he show us mercy? Isn’t he required to punish my sin? Yes! And God did punish your sin – when Christ died in your place on the cross. So, now God can show us mercy without being unjust.
Does God’s mercy mean that we can sin without consequence? No. Sin usually has some earthly consequence that comes along with it, though sometimes the mercy of God even extends to the earthly results. However, the spiritual or eternal consequences of being separated from God forever in Hell have been dealt away with. Believers in Christ are no longer under any condemnation in that arena.
2. Realize that your sin is truly sinful.
We must deal with the truth of the situation. We have sinned. That means that we’ve broken God’s law(s). There is a difference between acknowledging sin in a distant, academic sense and authentically turning away from that sin in repentance. “Oops, that was wrong. I sure am glad God is merciful ***goes about his/her day***”. That is not dealing with our sin in truth. This is similar to putting a little Band-Aid on a deep, 10 in. gash on our leg. It’s not properly addressing what happened.
After I sin, one of my go-to verses in which to find comfort is 1 John 1:9 –
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9
God has made an amazing promise here. He says He’ll forgive us and cleanse us from all sin. By the way, God keeps His promises. But the condition is that we have to confess our sin first. This doesn’t mean to go into a booth or speak with a priest or pastor, telling them everything we’ve done wrong. The essence of the word confess is to agree with God. We must see our sin as God sees our sin. To use a Bible phrase, we must see it as “exceedingly sinful.”
Call it what it is. Was it lying? Drunkenness? Lust? Adultery? Fornication? Gossip? Hate? Pride? Wrath? Then, don’t dress it up. Deal with it in truth, or else you’ll never get to the root of the problem. You’ll never have victory over it.
3. Depart from Evil.
So, after you address your sin in light of God’s mercy and truth, what’s next? You must set yourself on a course to receive victory over this sin. You don’t want to keep doing it, do you? If you do, then you have something else you need to address outside of the scope of this article.
If you want to depart from evil (from your sinful behavior / habit), then you must fear the Lord. The Old Testament concept of fear is that of reverence. It is not a cowering fear of a pet afraid of being kicked by its master. It is respect, admiration, and worship. You want Christ to crowd this sin out of your life for good? Then, you need to put Christ in His rightful place in your life. Christ desires and deserves to be ruling in our lives. He should be calling the shots, setting the course, and making the calls. This means you must consciously surrender your will to Christ. Not just one time but daily. A daily surrendered Christian (i.e. walking in the Spirit) will not continue in sinful behavior.
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
~ Galatians 5:16
It will be a battle, but God has given us everything we need to live godly in Christ.
Rest in God’s mercy.
Acknowledge your sin as what it is.
Daily surrender your will to Christ.
Pastor Bill Giallourakis
Columbia Road Baptist Church