Question from a Site Viewer
I’ve been “saved” for years now. I accepted Jesus Christ into my life at a very young age. I didn’t fully understand how salvation worked when I was younger and numerous times I’ve re-dedicated myself back to the Lord and asked Him to forgive me. I still find myself committing the same sins I’ve been doing for a while when I know better. It’s so hard to resist the temptation to do the sin and I know the Bible says if I repent, I am forgiven. I repent and ask God to forgive me every single day, even after I commit the sin. I always end up feeling guilty once I sin and repent because I can’t believe that God really does forgive me when I know I did it on purpose. Doesn’t He get tired of me continually asking to be forgiven for the same thing over and over again? I find it so incredibly hard to believe that He really does forgive me and I always think He’s like, here we go again, so often I feel like He doesn’t really forgive me.
You seem to be caught in a cycle of sin, repentance, and more sin, much like Israel in the days of the Judges and like Paul in Romans 7:14-24. God is quick to forgive when we repent and turn back to Him. But as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, once we have been forgiven we are to sin no more (John 5:14). As you have learned, we are not able to follow this command on our own. However, God has given us His Holy Spirit. As Scripture states, if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Paul states it this way in Romans 6:16 that when we yield to sin we make ourselves servants of sin; when we yield to righteousness we make ourselves servants of righteousness. John in 1 John 2:1 writes to us so that we will not sin. If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. The goal of being saved is not simply salvation from the penalty of sin, but deliverance from sin’s power over our lives. God wants to transform us into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Accordingly, I encourage you not to accept the status quo of living life in the Judges’ cycle of sin, repentance, deliverance, and back to sin. Rather, make it your aim to live life in righteousness, devoted to God. Focus your life on Jesus Christ and His righteousness. Learn to pray and to carry out the duties of a priest in bringing the needs of others before our God. Seek to sacrifice yourself for the sake of God and others. Become the servant among the people you encounter. Do these things, not because they are the right thing to do, but do them as an offering to the God who has forgiven you. Take joy in being able to show your love for Him by serving others. Focus your life there, always keeping Jesus at the center of your vision.
Walking with the Spirit is not some hard thing. It is rather a constant communication with God and humbly seeking to obey God’s commands. When I say “constant,” I mean having Him in our thoughts throughout the day, talking to Him about our lives, about our activities, in the moment while we are driving, or walking, or sitting, or standing, while at work, or at play, or whenever. We want to be about the mission that Jesus has sent us to do. We want to focus our energies there. Sin occurs not because we slip up, but because we have stopped walking with the Spirit and therefore have lost the power to overcome sin. The remedy for sin is to live in the Spirit of God–to abide in Christ.
I had a friend tell me that he had not watched TV for weeks, even though he had been somewhat a TV addict. It was not that he decided not to watch TV. Rather, he had an insatiable desire to get to know Christ, and so when he had any spare time, he spent it in the Bible and learning from God. He shared how enriching his walk with God was. This is how we want to be. We want to be warm to our God, to find His Word our delight, to reform our minds into minds that focus on Him.
I can give you some tips. First, become a thankful person. Pour out your heart in the morning, in the evening, and throughout the day with thankfulness for God. Thank Him for the good times, and the difficult times. Thank Him for His promised presence. Thank Him for Jesus, for life, for His love. Thank Him for the forgiveness of sins. Thank Him for preserving His Word that you may read it and find out more about Him and what He wants for you. Thank Him for opportunities to serve others. In everything, be thankful.
Second, focus your heart on the mission. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ in this world. Be the best ambassador you can be. Do everything you do with the ability God has given you. The best way to live life to the full is to pray about everything and do what you are able to do. Having asked Him for guidance, trust Him that He will provide guidance and then go out and live your life seeking to please Him. Serve Him well in your play, in your work, in your relaxing times, in your prayer life, and in your worship of Him. Make it your aim to serve the mission of Christ with your life.
Third, do not let sinful thoughts reign in your mind. When a temptation comes in, deal with it; don’t dwell on it. There are many ways to deal with it, but one of the best ones that work for me is to make temptations into triggers or reminders. Thus, if I am tempted, as soon as I am aware of the temptation, I like to use that as a reminder that I should be praying for someone. The temptation becomes a trigger for drawing into God. Or it might be a trigger to sing a song to God, or to praise Him, or any number of other “good” things. Do not let the temptation fester in your mind. When temptations hang around, they will produce sin. Thus, we must bring our thoughts into captivity for the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The bottom line is that if we claim the name of Christ, we want to walk worthy of that Name. When we fail, He is faithful to forgive. But failure stinks and ruins our fellowship with Him. So, we want to mature in our walk so that we fail less and we walk in the Spirit more each week, month, and year.
May the Lord Jesus be with you as you seek to make your life count for Him,