by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)

by Dr. Jeff Hagan

“Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended” (Isaiah 60:20, ESV).

Have you ever had a habit that you know is sin and you just can't seem to break free from it? I know I have, and still, do. Have you ever talked to someone about it and confessed it to them in hopes of getting their advice and counsel? Only to have them reply with something along the lines of, “Well, if you're a true Christian then you shouldn't have any problems controlling yourself when faced with sin.” I have. I've even heard similar statements from the pulpit and read them in books and articles.

Whenever I hear or read this I want to scream, “That is not helpful at all, and it's not even true!” These people think somehow we can work our way to holiness. It's as if once we are saved we no longer need to apply Christ's substitutionary work on the cross to our lives because from that point on we can stop sinning and become holy all in our own power. Well, that's impossible!

It's as if these people have never read some rather important and undeniable passages of Scripture: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV).; “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8, ESV).; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV).; and many others.

The very reason we are Christians is because God has shown us that we are sinful and need Him to save us and guide us. Even when we go to God with our sin and confess it to Him, and know we are forgiven because of His promises, often times we still continue feeling shame and guilt. When we dwell on our already forgiven sin we are not trusting God's unlimited grace.

The deal is that sin will always be with us in this life, and we need to confess ours to God, and then we need to move on. We need to forget about. I mean, that's what God does. Once He forgives us it is erased, He forgets about it. If He can, then we should be able to forgive ourselves too. Our nature is such that we will still struggle to go on at times, that's part of why I wrote this, to remind us so we can move beyond our sin and stop focusing or obsessing over it.

You may have heard the old adage, “God is the wind at your back, not the rain in your face.” God doesn't hold us back, reminding us of when we failed in sin. He guides us forward. I think most of the time we are our own rain in our face. If we make it a practice to forgive ourselves, as God does, and move beyond our past sins, we can accept God's new covenant and start anew.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, ESV).

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