For those of us who have struggled with sin before, we are all aware of the negative effects it can leave in our lives. That is exactly why I wrote Guilt & Glory Part 1 a few weeks ago. Please take a second to go back and read over that post first if you haven’t done so already!
So, we understand the importance of overcoming the guilt that results from sin, but how exactly can we DO this in a practical way?
I will just go ahead and say – I already know that some of you are going to look at these steps and think “Well duh! I already knew I had to do that”. You may KNOW these things already, but do you actually believe them? There’s a difference.
I’m not one to say that there’s any particular step-by-step method of overcoming guilt, but my prayer is that these few steps will at least guide you in the right direction. For the purpose of what we want to accomplish after we fall into sin, I believe there are three things each of us should do:
- Consider who God is to you.
- Understand who you are to God.
1. Consider Who God Is To You.
One weekend back in January, I was spending time in Austin with friends I had once attended a discipleship program with. Over the course of the weekend, we had such encouraging conversations each day, but the one that stood out the most happened that Friday night at dinner, as we were waiting for our food to be served. One of the girls asked us to go around in a circle and use one word to best describe who God had been to each of us in the past year. To some, He was described as their Provider, because they reached a point in their lives where they had no choice but to trust God for all their needs. To others, He was their Strength when difficult times meant that they had no one else to lean on. One by one, we each shared our descriptions of God. In the end, it was as if we all needed a second to debrief on our own and realize just how essential it was for God to be who He was in our lives over the past year, in order for us to be where we were at that moment.
So who is God to you? Is He your Shepherd? Is He your Shelter? Take a couple of minutes to really think about it. The better we understand who exactly God is in our lives, the more we will be inclined to please Him with our lives. I know that my parents love me so, incredibly much. I know that they’ve made sacrifices for me all of my life. So even though I may not feel like doing chores around the house, and it may be easier for me to just leave my things lying around – I try to take care of those small chores because my parents mean so much to me, and I want to please them. In the same way, we should try to take strides towards pleasing God every day of our lives – our love for HIM should be that great.
2. Understand Who You Are To God.
Sometimes, I don’t think we quite understand how much God loves us. I mean, for crying out loud, He created man with His own breath! As if that wasn’t enough, He gave man everything he needed for survival: food, shelter and even a companion (woman!). And as if THAT wasn’t enough, even after men fell into sin and were destined for eternal punishment, God created an option for LIFE:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. | Romans 5:8
And that changed everything. Are you aware of who God sees when He looks at you? The sin that we fall into can sometimes make us think that’s what He sees. But He doesn’t. He sees His child. And He would never want anything to come in between your relationship with Him, especially not sin. In fact, I think about how much God must detest sin BECAUSE it keeps you far from Him. But that’s the thing – He hates the sin, not you. All He wants is for you to come back.
To my parents, I will forever be the baby of our family (and youngest of three girls!). Sometimes, it’s when I remind myself of that fact, that it keeps me from doing things that I know would disappoint them. Likewise, remind yourself of who you are to God. You are so precious to Him!
(Now that we’ve gone through these first two steps – take a practical foot forward and actually do something about it! Find Scripture that reminds you of who God is in your life, and also look up verses that will remind you of who YOU are TO God, and how much He loves you. Highlight them. Memorize them. Remind yourself of them constantly. When you engage yourself in Scripture like that, trust me, these verses will come to mind at very opportune moments.)
Last but not least, here’s Step #3:
Ever notice how in the story of Joseph, when Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him, he doesn’t even take a second to pray and be like, “God, please give me wisdom to get away from this awkward situation.” Nope. The Bible says he immediately FLED. In fact, he didn’t even grab his coat on the way out – he was in such a rush to get out of there! If you’re really wanting to change the patterns of sin in your life, you’ll take the time to recognize the people, places and situations that can lead to the sin and make the decision to not even get close.
“One reason sin flourishes is that it is treated like a cream puff instead of a rattlesnake.” | Billy Sunday
You know what would happen if a wasp were to sting you somewhere on your body. So then, why in the world would you go up to a wasp’s nest and try to pick one up, unless you’re wanting the pain that comes afterwards? It really is just that simple, y’all.
So take a second to think about the people, places and situations that lead you to sin. How can you practically keep yourself from falling next time? What will you do differently?
God is here to help you. He doesn’t want you to go at this alone, and He will provide a way for you to experience freedom outside of sin. But it takes work on your part, too – whether that’s memorizing Scripture to remind yourself of God’s promises or purposely keeping yourself away from a tempting situation. But I know that you can do it, and God knows it too.