“Why did I do that?”
You ask yourself, as you hold your head in your hands. You go through what you did/said/thought and find yourself in even more disbelief at what has happened.
Now you have face the question:
‘’What do I do now?’
The reality is that as Christians we will go wrong, we will find ourselves saying, doing and acting in ways that are so far removed, so different, from what we know to be right.
One of the most common thoughts of new Christians is that they will never sin again, that now they have seen the wonderful saving power of our God, they will never again fall into sin.
Let me assure you, as someone that has been a Christian for ~11 years; this is something that you soon realise is not possible.
As Christians we are saved by the life, death and resurrection of our perfect Lord and Saviour.
We are covered by his righteousness, so why then do we still so often find ourselves getting things so wrong?
The simple answer is we are still human, not that this is any sort of excuse, but it is our reality. We are saved, our salvation is secure, but we still live our lives in this sinful world, our flesh, sin is still in our lives (although we are no longer controlled by it).
Paul often talks about the Old Man and the New Man, these two warring forces, our sinful human nature and our new nature in Christ [Romans 7:24-25]
So what do we do when we mess things up, when we have sinned?
For some help let’s look at some of Psalm 51, written by David after he had been confronted with his awful sin with Bathsheba. [2 Samuel 11]
v.3 ‘For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.’
We know that the Holy Spirit living in us and our own conscience convicts us of our sin, we can’t seem to stop thinking about it, no-matter how often we try and distract ourselves it just keeps appearing in front of us. David, in Psalm 32 mentions what happens if we try and put our sin to one side, if we try and just ignore it:
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
Pretty vivid and clear images used by David to describe the reality of trying t hide our sins from God, it never works out well for us.
V.4 ‘Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge’
See, the reality is that no matter who else our sin may affect, we only ever sin against God. We do wrong to others, hurt them, offend them etc. But we only ever sin against God. And that’s why sin is so very serious, we are doing wrong against God and his law. We are going against the commands of the ruler of creation, against the one who controls and sustains all things. Sin is serious.
The Shorter Catechism describes sin like this:
“Q:What is sin?
A: Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”
Even though David wronged Bathseba and her husband, even though he had ruined their lives, he still acknowledged that his sin was against God.
Before we seek forgiveness from anyone we may have hurt in our actions, we have to turn first to God and recognise, like David, that it is against God we have sinned. Only then can we go on to seek to repair the damage we have done to others.
v.7-9 ‘Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow … And blot out all my iniquities’
David cries out that God would cleanse him, Hyssop was a herb used in the ceremonial cleansing ceremonies as well as in medinces to clean wounds etc.
David lived in the time before Christ, although he was close to God he still did not have the access to God that we have today through Jesus.
We don’t need to use any sort of ceremonies to be forgiven from our sin, we must just come before God and repent, cry out that he would forgive us our sin against him.
It’s when we know we should come to God in prayer that it’s often the hardest to do, we find ourselves doing any & everything to avoid coming to God in prayer and in reading scripture. My friend, I know it’s hard – but if you do nothing the pain will only grow worse, and you will only become more cold and distant.
v.11 ‘Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.’
Once we are saved the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us, and He will never leave us [Ephesians 1:13-14, Acts 2].
But our sin, if we do not repent of it, will badly affect our relationship with God. The work of the Spirit in our lives will be stopped for a while, we will ‘grieve the Holy Spirit’ [Eph4:30], in that happening we will begin to feel from God.
To feel far from God is not a good palce to be it is cold and it is lonely, our salvation will never be taken away from us. But, for a time, God will remove from us the sense of His presence.
Sin is horrible, it is disgusting, and if we leave it unconfessed it will take a real toll on our walk with our God and Saviour. Our salvation is secure in the finished work of Jesus, but as long as we try and hide our sin, and ‘carry on as normal’ we will feel cold, distant, and miserable in our walk.
My friend don’t let sin sit in your heart, turn first to God, confess and repent. He will hear you, he will respond, he will forgive you.
In his hymn “From the Depths of Woe”, Martin Luther wrote these wonderful words:
‘Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.
From all their sin and sorrow.’