Sin is something that is addressed less and less in the Church these days. It is almost like we are so worried about stepping on toes we don’t call for any accountability. I think many of us are afraid to address our own sin even though we know we are forgiven. Spending time in the book of James this morning, I was convicted of my sinfulness and of the fact I am not radically pursuing the holiness I should be.
My conviction doesn’t come from legalism. We will never be perfect. Many of us are all too familiar with what James writes to his readers addressing the problem of sin: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). The temptation is there, and more often we fall instead of flee. After we flee, we let unholy condemnation settle in our minds instead of conviction, and we run away from the cross instead of to it. We let Satan tell us we cannot be forgiven because we keep making the same mistake over and over.
I want to encourage you, sisters…this is not the case. Nothing is beyond the grace of God. But the concern should be when we no longer care about our sin. I pray my heart is never hardened to the things that grieve the Spirit. We should never take advantage of the mercy and grace God has bestowed on us.
Why do we seem to fall into the same sinful patterns over and over? Many times we don’t want to do the work. Spiritual warfare and fleeing temptation is difficult. When our flesh craves satisfaction, we are quick to give in because it is easier at the time. Sanctification is slow, and it is hard. God isn’t going to do all the work for us, but just as a loving Father should, He teaches us, and He helps us to grow.
J.C. Ryle puts it this way: “In justification the word to be addressed to man is believe—only believe; in sanctification the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight'” (Holiness, ix). To be sanctified is to actively be engaged daily.
How do we overcome our repetitive sin? Is it possible to be forgiven for something we keep doing over and over? The first thing we need to remember is we can’t do anything on our own. We are sinners by nature. Sin may show itself in action, but it is by the grace and mercy of God that we are able to live free from condemnation, and we can take a one-time sin or a repetitive sin to God and it will be forgiven (Romans 8:1).
John tells us 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). What he is telling us here is God will not only forgive this particular sin one time but every time. Never get discouraged in repentance. Repentance is a gift of grace and mercy given to us by God. God doesn’t see His children as sinners, but because of Christ’s work on the cross, He sees us as holy.
God will never give up on us. Paul tells us that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Just because we are forgiven and will be forgiven does not give us permission to act however we may want or feel. We are to pursue holiness, and when we fail, take our failures to the wounds of Christ, not hide from Him.
God is gracious and merciful. He is not condemning, and though He may discipline us at times as a loving Father should, He knew we were sinners and sent His Son to bear our punishment. We can rest in the fact that we are loved by God, and we can come to Him in our praise and in our worship.
His love should drive us to repentance. Be encouraged, sisters. Fight for your sanctification, and never give up. You are loved.