It’s interesting as I think back over my life and how I used to respond to sin. I remember falling to a certain struggle and being down for days; pretty much until enough life passed to push my guilt and shame down to where I didn’t think about it anymore. God’s mercy, love, and grace was a foreign concept to me at during that long stretch of my life. Not to my brain but certainly to my heart. There was a lot of buried self-hate.
As I had my experiences with God and grew in my understanding of him, I noticed a couple of things. First, more and more time passed between the times I gave in to temptation and second, there were some new thoughts flowing through me the times that I did.
In the midst of viewing myself as disgusting, worthless, and more, I began to hear the voice of God break through and let me know I was forgiven. The amount of time spent in depression and self loathing grew shorter and shorter.
In fact, I’ll share an experience that really inspired this post.
I’d messed up again. Dang it! I apologized to God right away and was prepared to feel very bad about myself. Bring on the heaviness and depression and so on, right? But instead I instantly saw a picture of Jesus holding white robes. He told me that he forgave me and instructed me to put on the white robes of righteousness.
I did a double take. A few minutes before I was caught up in the throngs of sin and now Jesus is saying I’m forgiven and can move on. What about feeling bad about myself? I hadn’t spent nearly enough time feeling depressed. I wondered what to do. Exactly how much time did I need to spend punishing myself before it was okay to accept forgiveness from God?
This is a real conflict being fought within way more people than just me. How long do we need to feel bad about ourselves before we can move on into the love, grace, and mercy of God?
The answer is, “No time at all.” The moment we turn to God is the exact moment we can silence the self-inflicted punishment. If that’s only a few seconds after we did what we did, so be it.
If we truly turn to God with remorse, that’s all that’s needed. The purpose of conviction is to accomplish that goal – to turn us into the loving arms of the Father where we can experience the freedom forgiveness brings. Conviction does not want us to feel bad about ourselves but rather about what we did. Self-punishment is not in the make up of the Holy Spirit so it’s not in the make up of conviction.
The lie is that we need to spend an appropriate amount of time believing the accusations our enemy brings before we are free to move into grace, love, and mercy. But the truth is that grace, love, and mercy will sweep through us the exact moment we say, “YES” to them. It can be a few seconds or hours or days. That much is up to each one of us.
Jesus came to bring life. He didn’t come to say, “You must wallow in depression for this amount of time before it’s… Click To TweetJesus came to bring life. He didn’t come to say, “You must wallow in depression for this amount of time before it’s okay to move on.” He came to say, “I forgive you. Now live in my abundance.”
Sin stinks. It brings nothing good into our lives and many times it seems like the right thing to do is let it pull us into the pit of despair for an amount of time that proves we’re really sorry. But that pit is not from God. It’s from our enemy. God doesn’t want us to take even one step there. When we fall we lift our eyes to the mountain of love where our help comes from. He is QUICK to forgive and toss our sins away.
And in case you’re wondering, all of this is the EXACT way to get free of whatever habitual sin you’re facing. Stop focusing on how to beat the sin and focus on the love, grace, and mercy of God. Focus on his open arms even after you fall again. Revelation of his love is what’s going to set you free.
It’s tough to live in the abundance of Jesus when we feel dead after giving in. It doesn’t have to be that way. Sin is a big deal. My intention is not to be flippant with it because it separates us from God like a stupid wall. But the exact moment we turn to God the wall crashes and we can run into his arms. It doesn’t matter if it’s only been a few seconds.
Jesse and Kara Birkey
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