Christianity is about grace, not guilt.
It’s about compassion, not condemnation.
Forgiveness, not forsakenness.
A short story illustrates this well…
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:3-11
Don’t Focus on the Sin
So why do we constantly condemn ourselves?
We all struggle with different sin. No matter the sin, we have a hard time forgiving ourselves. Once we repent and ask forgiveness, the sin is gone. God isn’t thinking about it anymore, because it’s as if it never happened.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:5-9
The problem—and I’m as guilty of this as anyone—is that we focus on the sin.
We sin, and then we ask forgiveness, and then we continue to meditate on the sin, not the love of God or His power of forgiveness. Psalms 32 and 103 tells us that our sins are covered and pardoned. They’re gone. It’s not the same as when a parent disciplines a child. When we discipline our children, we explain the wrong, apply the discipline, and then it’s over. But we still may refer back to it in the future if patterns form. Or we may remember it and know to watch out for certain things. God doesn’t do that. He forgives and forgets… something humans aren’t fully capable of doing.
What if we focused on the love of God, the Holy Spirit filling every area of our life, and God’s compassionate power of healing? Instead of constantly feeling bad for the sin we repetitively do, let’s try to move on. Stop finding ways to stop sinning, and start finding ways to feel the presence of God. You will still accomplish the end goal, and you’ll likely be more successful by focusing on compassion over condemnation–grace over guilt.
Healing Habitual Sin
Habitual sin, Biblically, has higher consequences than random or accidental sin. So it’s important to eliminate habitual sin, but that doesn’t mean you should focus on the sin. The only way we can fully eliminate it is to focus on God. John explains the results of habitual sin:
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3-10
I didn’t share those words to scare you or make you feel bad. I shared those words to show how important it is to control habitual sin, but focusing on the fact that you’ve formed a habit of sin doesn’t help. Again, focus on God.
So try this if you’re struggling with sin, and especially if it’s habitual. Start meditating on the love of Christ. Think about how much God cares about you to forgive you of all things. Ask for forgiveness of your sin, but sit in the love of God after doing so. Realize that your sin is completely gone once you’ve asked for forgiveness. While there may still be earthly consequences, there are no heavenly consequences once you’ve asked for forgiveness.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Focus on Love
Satan would love for us to be so caught up and focused on our sin that we don’t experience the full love of God. Satan would love for us to focus on the sin, instead of the solution, which is Jesus.
Let’s focus on love.
This week, try to set aside various times to listen to God and think on how much He loves you. Take time to be covered by the love of God. If you sin, ask forgiveness, and then immediately sit in God’s love. Stop focusing on how bad you feel for sinning, and start focusing on how blessed we are that Jesus eliminated our sins. All we have to do is merely ask for forgiveness. We have no responsibility to beat ourselves up over our sin. In fact, if you do that, you aren’t fully accepting the fact that God completely forgives us of our sin.
Accept it and stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Count your blessings, not your blemishes.