If you are a Christian, then you know what it means to sin against God, or at least you should. When we are taking up our cross daily (Luke 9:23) it is a battle. Frankly, being a Christian is the hardest thing I have ever done, and when I stumble or fall back into old sinful behaviors it grieves my heart. This is a natural part of being a Christian and God tells us what to do when this happens…
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. – James 5:16
This verse is found in a letter written by James the half brother of Jesus… and he is explaining how believers should respond to sin in their lives. Many people believe that when you confess your sins to God at the moment of your salvation, you never need to confess your sins again. This is true and false. It is true in the sense that you only get saved ONCE, and the blood of Christ cleanses you of all of your sins past, present and future. Your eternal security is not the issue. Which brings us to the falsehood in that statement. We DO need to be highly aware of sin in our lives and when we sin, confess to God and another believer(s) what we have done. Why? For several reasons:
- To be healed. As that verse in James explains, healing comes when we are honest with ourselves, God and others about our spiritual journey. When Jesus said “the truth will set you free” He was giving us words of wisdom that if lived would change our lives forever.
- To correct our path. It is very easy to get off track in the Christian life, to fall back into old behaviors and desires of the flesh… which is at constant war with our spirit. By coming to God and others with our struggles (victories and defeats) we are effectively correcting the path of our ship before it strays too far off course.
- To restore fellowship with God. When we sin our relationship with God is hindered but God is faithful to cleanse us and restore our righteousness when we confess (1 John 1:9). If we continue to live in habitual, un-confessed sin even our prayers are not heard (Isaiah 1:15).
- To limit consequences. There are earthly consequences for our sins, which could cause us to lose our marriage, our jobs, our health, go to jail, or even die. The longer we live with habitual sin in our lives the more consequences there will be. By confessing and turning from our sinful behavior we can lower the consequences considerably.
- To edify other believers. Make no mistake about it, living a life of sin can cause other believers to stumble and as Paul writes in Romans 14:13-23 we are to lift up and edify one another.
Now let’s talk about the reality facing most Christians today… they are trying to live a good Christian life, trying to do the right thing and then one day they stumble or fall into sinful behavior. They go to God for forgiveness, sure enough, but then they cannot bring themselves to let go of the guilt and self-condemnation sin always brings with it. These feelings of shame can often lead to depression, anxiety, fear and dread. ALL emotions that run counter to the character of God. ALL emotions that have the power to send them right back into a life of sin that they just turned away from.
One close Christian brother of mine, recently confessed that he had started smoking Marijuana again, after around a month of sobriety. When he told me his story I could see defeat all over him, and he said something striking to me… that he wanted to be back on top again. I placed my hand on his shoulder and said to him “you are back on top! right this very moment”. He had taken it to God, he had taken it to another brother in Christ. In that moment, he was back on top. He may not have felt that way, but that is how God sees it. You must understand that God does not see you and I as “sinners” He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ covering us (Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 2:13).
We cannot afford to lay on the ground when we fall, or stay in a pit if we stumble into one, or go back to square one in our sobriety. We MUST move forward, we MUST soldier on… because the enemy is always on the move. The next attack is imminent and you don’t want to be down when they come for you. You need to get up, dust yourself off, pick your shield of faith and sword of the spirit and MARCH ON!
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. –2 Conrinthians 7:10
Ask yourself this question… when you fall to sin, does Jesus Christ want you to sit around filled with guilt and shame, paralyzed with fear and loathing? Or does Jesus Christ have Kingdom work for you to do? There is only ONE who wants you paralyzed and he is our eternal enemy… do NOT let the enemy forces get you down, YOU have CHRIST in you… and that name alone causes all of the enemy forces to tremble in fear (James 2:19).
You are a child of God.
Your are unique in ALL of His creation.
He knew you in your mother’s womb and He LOVES YOU.
Stay Strong & Stand Tall