So you’ve done it again. You’ve sinned in that way that you always find yourself sinning. You messed up. You put your foot in the wrong door. You ate a bad apple. Whatever analogy you want to give for it, you were tempted to sin and you quit fighting and gave in.
One thing that I find helps me in the aftermath of sinful behavior is going back and seeing where I went wrong, what happened that led me to make the decision to follow through with sin. It’s a process I tend to go through several times a day, I find, for various sins and transgressions. I’m a sinful guy. I’m a bad Christian with a great Savior.
I find that there are a few things that I believe when I give into temptation, and they’re all lies in some way. But they’re also wrapped in a little bit of truth. I have to work through the lies to see the truth. That’s probably one of the biggest fights of the Christian life, to be honest with you, because it seems that Satan, and by extension us, like to believe things that have little kernels of truth in them, even if they’re shrouded in deception. I hold onto that kernel hoping it will justify whatever action I’m about to take.
The Lies I Believe
This will make me feel better. The unfortunate truth I’ve learned about sin is that it feels good. I hate that that’s true! But it makes sense. If sin felt bad all the time, even while you were doing it, nobody would want to sin. So this is a truth, but eternally it’s a lie. Yes, sin will make you feel good in the moment, whether it’s a lie you tell, lusting after someone else or getting angry at someone else. It feels natural.
It’s not a big deal. This is one of the trickier ones and one of the things Satan can really play on. In truth, our sin does not separate us eternally from God because of grace. So on the surface, it might not seem like a big deal.
You can’t beat the inevitable. I mean, it’s going to happen anyways, so might as well get it over with. Whether it’s a dramatic outburst of anger or a gossipy attitude, it’s coming, so might as well just quit fighting. We are weak against sin on our own.
You’re alone in the fight. I’ve got no one with me. It’s just me. In the moment when we choose to sin, we can only see us.
Truths I Must Hold Onto
Following God is always better. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Doing things God’s way always leads to more joy than any kind of silly “good feeling” sin can give you.
My sin takes me away from a deeper relationship with God. It’s a break in the relationship. Just like when you sin against your spouse/friend/parent, there’s a strain placed on the relationship with God when you do this, so it is kind of a big deal.
God is strong enough to help. God is greater than your sin and always will be. In 2 Chronicles 16:9, the seer Hanani tells the rebellious king Asa, “The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to lend strong support to those whose heart is blameless towards him.” If you’re a Christian, your heart has been cleansed and made blameless by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. So God wants to help you and is strong enough to help you. You don’t have to sin! You will, but you don’t have to.
You’re never alone in the fight. Just because it’s a big deal doesn’t mean God abandons you. The promise of the gospel says that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Plus, there’s no temptation that is exclusive or unique to you (1 Corinthians 10:13). There’s always someone else.
One Last Thing
If we’ve already given into temptation, we must turn to God immediately in prayer, asking for forgiveness and resting in His grace and His love for us. I find that the moments that I don’t want to do that are the moments I need to do it most.
I think there are two reasons we don’t believe grace. 1) We don’t think we need it, we can just do better, or 2) we don’t think we deserve it, we’ve lost the opportunity for it because of our sin. That’s when a certain passage of Scripture from Romans 8 comes to my mind.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.