I’ve heard it said that what you believe about God is the most important thing about you. But how about what you believe about sin? Does sin matter to God? You bet it does. And if something matters to God, it should matter to you. What you believe about sin is incredibly important to your relationship with God and to your spiritual health.
Like we talked about last Tuesday at The Porch, it’s easy to get amnesia about the blessings that we have in Christ – like the permanent status that Christians have before God, where He doesn’t count our sins against us. We might understand it conceptually, but it’s still easy to live like that isn’t true. Believing – or living – lies about sin can hold you back from experiencing freedom and healing from sin, and it can also kill your intimacy with God. Here are four killer lies about sin that can make you its slave.
“Grace, bro! Jesus paid for it all, so now that I’m a Christian, sin isn’t a big deal, right?” It’s a big deal because it was important enough for Jesus to die for. If you give your sin a free pass, you downgrade Christ’s sacrifice and dilute the gospel. But if you see sin for what it is – something deserving eternal separation from God, then your natural response to being saved from sin should be incredible gratitude towards God, and a humble attitude as you relate to other sinners.
You’ve been set free from being a slave to sin, but remember that sin used to be your slavemaster, and it still has some influence over you. If you’re a Christian, sin is still at work in you even though it doesn’t define you. Believing the lie that sin isn’t a big deal can keep you from fighting sin and pursuing holiness like God wants you to. And if you get complacent about sin, it will destroy you. Those “white lies” you’re telling? Sin. Those casual lustful glances? Sin. That sense of prideful superiority you have? Sin. Don’t get complacent because you might not be struggling with the “big” sins anymore – keep striving to throw off every sin that entangles you!
Application: Do an inventory of where you might be getting complacent about sin in your life. What sins feel more “acceptable” to you? Are you justifying any persistent sin that seems innocent, respectable, or victimless? What would your community group say?
“I’m a Christian, so why do I still want to sin? Am I even saved?” No matter how long you’ve been a Christian, you’re going to be tempted to sin. The Bible says that it’s a common thing for all humans. The difference is that as a Christian you’re not a helpless victim to temptation anymore. You have weapons to fight it with! Temptation is a choice to sin, but it can’t compel you to sin. That’s a big difference! God promises to provide a way out from temptation when you face it. Of course, you have to actually take the way out, which isn’t always easy.
But take heart! There’s one word that describes Christians who are still tempted to sin: normal. Even Jesus was tempted in the same ways we are, and He empathizes with us because He knows what it’s like to be tempted (though He didn’t sin). You should ask God to lead you away from temptation, and you should flee the things that you know will tempt you, but don’t believe the lie that you’re a “bad Christian” just because you’re still tempted by sin.
Application: Think about the temptations you most commonly face. Do you feel guilty for being tempted? Where are you most likely to be tempted? How can you fight or flee from those temptations? What is God’s way out for you in those moments of temptation?
“God expects me to not sin anymore. And every time I do, He gets angrier with me.” I’ve got good news for you, Christian – God isn’t mad at you! The Bible says that we have peace with God through Jesus. If you are in Christ, God doesn’t count your sins against you anymore. He’s angry at the godlessness and wickedness of those who are not in Christ, but none of that anger is directed towards you. The Bible says that God is slow to anger and abounding in love toward those who fear Him, and He doesn’t treat us like our sins deserve. Instead He has compassion on us, remembering that we are weak.
God hates sin, but He doesn’t hate you because you sin. You don’t have to be afraid of His anger, and you can approach Him with confidence, knowing that He will extend mercy and grace to you. Run to God when you sin, not away from Him. He is faithful to forgive you when you ask Him!
Application: Examine your own thoughts about God. Do you think He’s mad at you? If so, why? If not, why not? Do you feel confident in approaching God to confess sin and ask for forgiveness? Ask God to help you understand His great love for you!
“Freedom feels impossible. I’ve been stuck in this sin so long as a Christian, and I can’t do anything about it.” When you feel hopelessly stuck in your sin, humbled by your own inability to fight it, that’s actually a good place to be. The first step to recovery in re:generation (Watermark’s Christ-centered recovery ministry) is to admit that you are powerless over your sin, and that you can’t manage sin on your own. And that’s where God comes in! He humbles those who are prideful, but He lifts up those who are humble.
Read this parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector – God doesn’t want you to come to Him thinking that you have it all together. He wants you to come to Him asking Him for mercy and help in your time of need. And He loves to give it to you! Mercy beats out judgment when it comes to God’s children.
But He doesn’t just stop at being merciful – He also wants to restore and heal you! It often isn’t a quick process, but God is in the business of changing lives, and He wants to change yours too. He’s more powerful than your sin, and He will bring regeneration and freedom to your life as you turn to Him. Like the prodigal son found out, hope is never lost – there is always a way home.
Application: You can’t fight sin on your own. Have you fully confessed your sin to God and others? Do you have others in your life who are praying for you and supporting you? Have you taken radical measures to flee sin? Have you considered a Christ-centered recovery program like re:generation? Ask God what He would have you do today to turn away from sin and run to Him.
Don't believe the lies!