Do you keep sinning over and over? Then repenting over and over? And you can’t seem to break this cycle of sin, rinse, repeat? If so, then you may be accidentally misunderstanding the Gospel and what Jesus actually did.
If you believe Jesus died for you then there are two things you will know and I believe they are two major keys to growth in Christ.
1. You have been forgiven.
When you mess up, do you beat yourself up really bad or even consider giving up? When considering God’s word that you are forgiven you might think, “But I knew better!” or “But I keep messing up!” – But believing in Jesus means believing who He is and what His word says. Not believing in what your feelings or wavering faith are saying at the moment, but believing God instead of what you feel.
But am I really saved? Am I really forgiven?
Often believers get hung up on Hebrews 6:6 and 10:26, which speak of those who sin and are unable to be renewed unto repentance – but this speaks of people who abuse the grace of God purposefully and sin, developing an unrepentant heart about your actions.
But you can know God has forgiven you and hasn’t left you by seeing that your heart is grieved and desperately wants to please the Lord! 1 John 3:19-20 tells us, “And this is how we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.”
We can know that God’s word remains true and is greater than our thoughts and feelings. It’s so very hard to forgive ourselves because forgiveness is not ours to give ourselves – it’s God’s. But we must be willing to receive it!
You must accept God’s forgiveness.
When Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet, Peter felt unworthy and told Jesus he didn’t want to be washed. Jesus told him if he didn’t then Peter had no part with him. Peter then understood and begged him to wash his whole body.
When we understand that Jesus came to Earth for this sole reason – to cleanse us – we will cast aside our unworthy feelings and accept His cleansing forgiveness. After all, that’s always been the only way to Him, not our own works.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from a guilty conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).
Like the prodigal son, when you even begin to repent, God runs to you, puts His garment of righteousness on you, gives you a family ring and celebrates your return. He knows the worst thing that can come from your sin is that you never return to Him.
The enemy knows this too. In fact, the devil tempts you to sin not because losing one battle gives him victory, but because he wants you to feel unworthy and tired of trying. It is an attack on your faith in hopes that you will either give in to bondage or give up on God.
God’s forgiveness is like the story I read of a judge ruling a woman who had many traffic fines due to hard life events. Having pity on her, he lowered the debt to only $50. She was tearfully taken by surprise. Then when the judge learned she would be left with only five dollars, he totally canceled her debt and let her go. She was immediately empowered to live more successfully because her debilitating debt was erased. By his kindness and authority – like the judge – God forgives, forgets and empowers us to live free from the weight of our debts.
2. Jesus has given you power over sin and evil.
Not only did Christ’s death provide the forgiveness of sins, but has also given us the power to keep us from sin when temptation hounds. This is just as important as believing he forgives, and it is key to breaking a sin cycle.
Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19). The Bible also affirms, “When you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
Why is it so hard to win against temptation sometimes?
Many times we are not truly believing in, are forgetting, or lack the knowledge of our authority in Christ. If we truly believe Jesus died and rose again with all power in his hands, and defeated sin and death, then we should believe in the power of his Word when we are faced with tempting lies.
We must stand by his Word and not our feelings. We must learn that our feelings lie to us and that God’s word is always true. The more of His word we know, the bigger our shield of faith will be to deflect the lies.
Has God left me?
Another dilemma that gets in the way of us not receiving God’s forgiveness or power is when many times we begin to feel that God has left us for failing too much. God says he will never leave us or forsake us – this is true. The root of this feeling is that there are times when we move away from God when we sin. Our sin may separate us from God’s truth, but not His love. Here is why:
- Sin is everything outside of God. So when we choose sin, we turn away from the face of God – the truth – and become blinded by the lies of temptation and sin. We must keep our eyes on the Truth. But we can only do that by turning back to God.
- Our sinful desires to do things outside and apart from Him naturally cause us to move away from Him. You cannot serve two masters, you will love one and hate the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other (Matt. 6:24).
- We may feel guilty and try to hide from His presence. Just as Adam and Eve immediately hid after they sinned against God, sometimes our guilt causes us to take the same approach. And guilt points back to taking our eyes off the truth of the cross – its forgiveness and its empowerment – which is why we sinned in the first place. Hence the cycle. Hence the enemy’s tricks.
So let’s stand firm in the truth of the cross. We have been forgiven and we have been given authority over all evil through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s love will never leave us, nor will He.
“Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:35
A way that we can practice walking in God’s truth daily is by reading His Word, meditating on the battle armor He gave us, and by immediately confessing our sins and in turn receiving his forgiveness and power – a practice known as “spiritual breathing.”
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 1:24-25
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