"for in my inner being I delight in God's law;"
Two questions Christians often struggle with are: “Does it matter if we sin if we are already saved by grace?” “If so, how can we overcome sin?” If we are really honest with ourselves I believe we know intuitively that sin matters for two reasons. The first one is that we are created in God’s image, and because of that Sin will naturally bother our conscience. When we think about what it means to be created in God’s image, we realize that it means that we are to be a reflection of Him. Because God is truth, life, holy, and just, when we lie, murder, have sex outside of marriage, and take revenge we know in our heart of hearts that we don't reflect God's image. Second, because the payment for our sin required Christ’s life, we know that sin is serious business in God’s eye. Sin can be defined as disobedience as well as missing the mark. God is perfect and we fall short of reflecting His glory. That sense of shame we experience so early in life is because we don’t measure up to God. What we need to understand though is that after we are saved we are reconciled to God and our purpose in life is restored. One of the signs that we don’t take sin seriously is that we find ourselves not deluging in His law.
One of the best answers does it matter if we sin after salvation can be found in God’s response to Israel when they went into the promised land and became seeped in sin. Jeremiah 7:8-10 expresses God's thoughts, "Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods who you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?" In the same way Israel had a new purpose in the Promised Land; we need to realize that God gave us a new purpose when He saved us. We should ask ourselves if we truly believe that God delivered us from our sin to still do the same sinful things. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared for us to do beforehand.
Another reason God desires for us to grow in righteousness is found in Jeremiah 6:7. It says, "As a fountain wells up with water, so she wells up with her wickedness. Violence and plundering are heard in her. Before me continually are grief and wounds." God loves us and one of the reasons He gave us the law was because He knew that sin hurts us. God often talks about healing in conjunction with turning from sin. When our sin goes unchecked and we grow more sinful we will eventually reach a point in which we are in deep pain. It truly is gracious of God to desire to heal us of pain that we have chosen to inflict upon ourselves.
So, how do we overcome sin? We are humans who are born with a bent to do wrong and we will sin every day and yet God says to be holy as He is. How do we bring together the truth of our sinfulness in this life and our calling to holiness? There are three principles that can help us grow in holiness. They can be summed up by three words: honesty, obedience, and faith.
Honesty--I John 1:9 says to confess our sins. Confession means agreeing with God about who we are and what we have done. Also James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to one another and to pray for each other, so we need mature believers we can be transparent with. We may not have victory because we are afraid to be real with others about our struggles. As we confess our sin to God and to others we will be humbled which gives us a chance for the desire to be like Him to take root.
Obedience--I John 1:7 also says that we should walk in the light. God’s truth is the light. If we walk in the truth of what He has revealed to cleanse us and reveal more. It gives us the opportunity to compare our actions and attitudes with who we are and confessing what does not match up. It helps us have the opportunity to choose moment by moment to do what is right over what we usually do. We also need to understand our weaknesses and not put ourselves in situations that promote failure. When we are tempted to sin, we need to choose to behave according to what we desire to be, not what is natural or feels good.
Faith--Do we believe God and trust that His plans are good? Do we trust His unfailing love enough to be real with Him and know He will not walk away and that He will help us grow in holiness? II Peter 1:2-4 says, "…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Do we truly believe that His power is greater that the strongest urges we feel to sin? The Bible is full of promises that we can trust. It is important to realize that there is no sin in temptation. For the Christian it is an invitation to walk more intimately with God and see His power manifested in our weaknesses. So if we desire intimacy, but believe that our sin stands in the way, we can rebuke that lie and talk to God about the temptations we experience and learn to depend on His power to overcome it. When we are willing to do that, He helps us weed out the sins by the root.
Are you hurting and think sin can ease the hurt? Think again, one of the names for our God is counselor. Sin offers temporary relief, but taking our pain to God deepens that relationship which can promote the healing we desire. Do you want a deeper sensitivity to sin so that you can honor God more with your life, it is ours for the asking? Don't get bogged down in guilt, but simply be honest with God. He delights in healing, empowering, transforming, and teaching us how to walk with Him. If we continually offer Him all that we are, He will continuously be in the process of molding us into the image bearer He created us to be. As we grow in obedience and the desire to know God, we will truly come to the point of delighting in your laws because we will understand in the deepest parts of our hearts that the law reflects the nature of our God.
Prayer: Father, we come to You as sinful people simply redeemed by the blood of Jesus. We confess that we often excuse our sin. Help us assume responsibility for it. Help us to believe You have truly given us all that we need to live lives that are glorifying to You. Please redeem our mistakes and work them to our good. Humbles us, purify us, and fill us with the desires of Your heart. Help us fulfill the works You have created each of us to fulfill. Amen.