“But I do the very thing I hate…”
Sin is always so appealing. Whether it’s cheating on an exam to get that grade you want, stretching the truth to earn trust or approval, spreading gossip, it could be anything. The attraction lies in the benefit. A satisfaction seemingly so good that boundaries are crossed, mistakes are made, lies are told, tracks are covered, and consequences are ignored. A temptation that is so strong that we no longer care what is right or wrong and then we cave in.
I know I can relate to this. I try to break a habit and soon find myself returning to the very habit I was trying to break. I understand the error of my action, realize the mistake, and what do I do? The very sin I thought about and considered the error of. Why? Why do I return to my sin? Why do we do what is wrong even though we’re aware of the error? But the more concerning question is, even though I make the same mistake over and over, can I still find forgiveness?
About 2000 years ago, Paul wrote a letter to the Romans that holds undeniable truth that is relevant still today. A letter that sparked a revolutionary fire in many souls through the message it shares. A Gospel message of conviction, redemption, and freedom. In the middle of this letter, Paul shares with us something I believe we all can relate to. Romans 7:14-15 says, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Here, in this Scripture, Paul expresses his understanding of the very same issue I face.
We all struggle with sin. I mean, Paul, a well known apostle and example for the Christian faith confessed to this, which is proof that even the strongest heart faces times of weakness. The expectations of God lie within our Spiritual strength and persistence, but this world we live in and the bodies we’ve been given have been stolen by sin. The flesh in which we reside is a weak, disobedient, sin-tainted flesh. A flesh that is bound and destined to make mistakes.
So, now that we have an idea of why we continue life in sin, we need to consider the next question. Is there hope for us to hold on to?
I sure hope so, because if there isn’t, then I’ve got a lot to worry about! The beauty of the cross is the sacrifice made for my sins (and yours). The renewed grace, mercy, and love of God are given to us unconditionally. Well. There is one condition: That it is received. God knew that we would stumble and He knew that we would make mistakes. That’s the whole point of the death and resurrection of Christ. The fulfillment of a promise of hope and restoration. A works-based faith doesn’t work because our sinful nature makes it impossible for us to be “good enough,” and what a relief that is! Praise God that we don’t have to meet that requirement on our own, because I know my track record certainly speaks of my inability to. All we have to do is ask for and receive the forgiveness He has for us. The robes of Christ cover our sins. When we ask for forgiveness, we are no longer responsible for due judgement. The wrath of God was satisfied by the blood of Jesus, and, as Paul later mentions in Romans, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NOTHING can EVER separate us from the work of Christ so long as we are willing to accept the free gift offered to us.
That covers two questions. Now that we are beginning to understand why we continue to sin and have reflected on the forgiveness always available to us, there is one more question to answer. How do I respond to all of this?
Despite the forgiveness we receive, sometimes we still hold on to a feeling of guilt, or maybe even God-given conviction. The consequences of our sins still remain. Lies can hurt and actions have consequences. How can we begin to heal if we have to face the result of our sin? Despite what you may feel, keeping it secret is not the answer. I am convinced that silence is a tool of the Enemy to keep us from true Spiritual healing. Silence is a fear-driven response. To find peace and joy, there is only one answer, especially when considering those sins which are exceptionally binding. To confess. James 5:16 says to us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Though it might be the most terrifying option, there has never been a time that I regretted bringing my sin to light. Every instance brought forth a response of love and acceptance, but more importantly, people who are willing to walk with me and carry me when it gets hard and when I stumble. Even if there is healing for our mistakes, should we live like they don’t matter? Again, we can look at Paul, in Romans 6:1-2, where he responds to this very question with, “By no means!” Instead, we should follow the direction of 2 Timothy 2:22 which tell us to, “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
So, don’t let yourself be discouraged by the struggles you face. There is forgiveness. Don’t let your sins be kept in secret. In confession is healing and unmatched peace, joy, and freedom through the prayer and support of those who love you. Break the chains that bind you through the strength of the Lord. Lean on those around you, and know that as I type this, I am praying for this message to reach into the depths of your heart and soul that you may find the abundant love of Christ and grow in ways you never thought possible.