The Squeezings of my Brain Grapes.
Habitual Sin - What It Doesn’t Mean

Bless their hearts, but Christians manage to say a whole lot of stupid stuff when it comes to the subject of habitual sin.  Here are some paraphrases of actual things I’ve heard Christians say on the subject…

“If you’re not willing to stop sinning, you shouldn’t even call yourself a Christian.”

“The answer to habitual sin is to just stop it.”

“If you’re stuck in habitual sin, you should question whether or not you’re really saved.”

Wow.

Now, I bet you’ve heard some of those same ideas before.  And I bet, just maybe, they freaked you out.  That’s kind of the point, of course – to try and scare you into changing behavior.

But let’s take those item by item.  “If you’re not willing to stop sinning, you shouldn’t even call yourself a Christian.”  There’s a few problems here.  First, Christians don’t claim to be sinless – quite the contrary, in fact!  1 John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we lie and the truth is not in us.” 

Second, if you actually talk to a person struggling with a habitual sin (instead, of, you know, yelling at them), what you’re almost certain to find is that they are very willing to stop sinning.  They just don’t know how to do it.  I work with a whole lot of people stuck in habitual sin, and, consistently, they hate the thing, they don’t want to do the thing, they’ve tried all kinds of stuff to not do the thing, and nothing has worked.  Willingness is not the problem.

That brings us to the second idea.  “The answer to habitual sin is to just stop it.”  Only someone who has never faced down something impossible would say this.  I don’t know about you, but, my sinfulness is too big for me.  It’s almost like I need a savior.  Paul – the guy who wrote most of the New Testament – had the same experience:

“For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:19,24)

Paul’s answer to this was that he needed Jesus Christ to change him.  That his will power wasn’t enough.  He wrote about this in the book of Galatians, when he chastised the folks there for trying to live the Christian life “by human effort.”  (Gal 3:3)

One of the ways that Jesus changes us is to give us wisdom about what’s driving us to that sin in the first place.  For a lot of folks reading this, their sin of habit is pornography.  And they feel really guilty about it.  But very few of them have every thought and prayed on the question, “What’s driving me to look at this in the first place?”

As a quick example, a big motivator for a lot of folks is that they use pornography as a stress release.  Well, now, if we want to move past porno, we’d need to learn how to live a lower-stress life and what Godly, healthy stress relievers look like.  But we’d never come to that point if we’d clenched our teeth and decided to “just stop it” in our own strength.

So, let’s look at that last bad idea.  “If you’re stuck in habitual sin, you should question whether or not you’re really saved.”

No, no you shouldn’t.  Here’s what the Bible says: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)  If you’ve said, “Jesus, I’m a sinner, and I’m asking you forgive me and take control of my life and heart,” you’re as saved as saved can be, and nothing can change that, now or ever.

As I said at the beginning, there are a lot of Christians who say dumb stuff on this topic, and, as we say in the south, bless their hearts.  Some of them, I am certain, mean well.  They do.  They know that sin is bad – and it is.  They know that God doesn’t want us to sin – and He doesn’t.

But these Christians are confused about how we move past a sin.  The truth, as we were just saying, is that we do so piece by piece, bit by bit, with wisdom guiding the journey.  Human willpower and gritted teeth don’t lead to changed lives.

The second thing, though, that our well-meaning brothers and sisters are confused about, is the nature of God’s forgiveness.  The truth is that it just doesn’t run out.

Jesus said that, if your brother wrongs you the same way seven times in a single day, you should forgive him. (Luke 17:4)  And, further, that you should be prepared to forgive the same person 70 times 7 times. (Matthew 18:22)  And the Bible tells us that our forgiveness of others is to mirror God’s forgiveness of us. (Ephesians 4:32)

What all this means is that God has an impossibly high ability to forgive us.  Which is good, because we have an impossibly high ability to sin.  And isn’t that exactly what the Bible says?  “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20)

If you’re struggling with habitual sin, first, welcome to being human and a Christian.  We’ve all been there.  Second, relax for a minute.  God’s not gonna let you go.  Take a deep breath and be still.  Then, start asking God for wisdom.  Seek out some older Christians who don’t have a stick up their butt.  Seek the Lord on what’s driving the sin areas in your life.  And, step by step, begin to address those behind-the-scenes problems, and you will begin to see God changing your life right in front of you.

When you turn to God, He runs to you. The father saw the prodigal son ‘while he was still a long way off’, that’s because the father was yearning and watching and waiting. When you burst out your front door to go find God, you see He was already standing at your door and knocking. Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve gone off to, God is right there.
Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

mattkinger:

God does not count your sins against you!

mattkinger:

God does not count your sins against you!

What If My Guilt Is A Sin?

Anonymous asked:

I’ve been committing plenty of sins lately, I feel as if im in no stat of grace to pray. My friend told me thats when i should pray the most, but the guilt is overcoming me and hinders me from praying. I feel as if my relationship with God is deteriorating and im on the road of breaking down.

Jed Brewer replied:

Thanks for the question, anon.

Let’s ask this: what is sin, exactly?  I’d like to give you a quick-and-easy definition… Sin is anything that keeps you from God.

Given that, the feelings of guilt in your brain that are telling you, “You probably shouldn’t bother talking to God.  He doesn’t want to talk to you, and you don’t have any right to talk to him” – those feelings are massively sinful.

In fact, anon, those feelings of guilt that are directly keeping you from talking to God are, it sounds like, way more sinful than whatever naughty thing you were doing in the first place. 

And, to go further, you winding up stuck on this guilt trip was probably the Devil’s strategy all along.  Why might that be?

Let’s ask this: what does the Devil want?  The Devil wants to make sure you don’t live out the destiny for which God created you.  That’s his main goal.  If you live out that destiny, he loses people out of his camp, and that’s just awful.

As it turns out, the Devil is a pretty practical guy.  He’s only concerned with what will get the job done.  Whether you’re hooked on crack or a greed-obsessed banker, it makes no real difference to him.  In either case, you’re not living into your destiny, and he’s perfectly happy.

So, this brings us back to you.  Why would the devil want to get you wound up on a guilt trip?  I mean, wouldn’t that guilt drive you to stop sinning?  Answer: No, it wouldn’t.

The guilt will make you feel bad.  That’s all.  It will keep you from talking to God, which will keep you from getting any real strength.  Ultimately, you’ll feel so bad that you’ll need something to make you feel better, and you’ll do whatever the original sin was, again. And then you’ll have more guilt.  And rinse and repeat.

So how do we get out of this?  We start by remembering that the guilty feelings are a lie.  And we remind ourselves of the truth.

The truth is that when you were at your worst, God chose to die for you. (Rom 5:8)
The truth is that, as a Christian, there is no condemnation for you.  (Rom 8:1)
The truth is that all of the penalties and punishment you deserve have been paid-in-full by Jesus. (Eph 1:7)

And, of course, the truth is that God saw this coming, understands, and wants you to come before him with confidence and get yourself a big ole heaping plate of grace.  (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Once we remind ourselves of what God has said, we choose to take God at his word.  We go for a nice long walk and start talking to him.  We tell him what’s up.  We tell him how we’re feeling.  We ask for strength.  We ask for wisdom about why we’re getting tripped up on this particular sin.  We thank him that his love never waivers, and that he’s beyond pumped to have his kid talking with him.

And then we call up some friends, go get a cheeseburger, and do that most righteous of all things: we relax.

How can we relax?  Because He loves you, right now, today.  He really, really does.

What Does God Think of My Sin?

Over the past few days, I’ve gotten a number of questions from folks who’ve done things they feel ashamed of in their past, and they’re wondering, “What now?”  They’re wondering what God thinks about all of it, and they’re wondering what other people – say, a future husband – is going to think about all of it.

Each question – there’s a few on sex, and a few on cutting – will get it’s own reply, but, there’s a common thread running through all of them, and we’re going to take a look at that here.

So, what does God think of your sin?  Easy.  He understands.

If you don’t know this verse, I’d encourage you to read it to yourself everyday for the next week, month, year, forever…

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

What’s God saying here?  First, he gets it.  The thing you were into, whether it was cutting, or sex, or drugs, he understands why you were into it.  He understands how you got into it in the first place.  He understands why it seemed like a good idea.  He understands what the draw was.  He understands what seemed pleasurable about it.  He understands how hard it was to turn loose of it.  He understands how hard it is to stay clear of it today.  He understands the feelings of guilt and shame that you’re struggling with now.  He understands.

Well, where does that leave us?  It leaves us realizing that we have no reason to be ashamed.  God was not ashamed to shed his blood for you when you were at your worst.  God is not ashamed today to call you his child.  If God ain’t ashamed, then you don’t have to be ashamed.

Your sin says one thing – and only one thing – about you: you are the kind of person Jesus Christ came to save.  Sinners sin.  That’s what they do.  Doesn’t make it right, sure.  But Jesus came unto a world of sinners, and he came, in the midst of your sin, looking for you. 

God hates sin, yes.  But he hates sin precisely because he loves you.  When we sin (which all of us do, all the time), it hurts us, it hurts others, and it leaves us settling for less than God has for us.  That’s why God hates it.  (What kind of a Father would be ok with watching his child hurt herself?)  But God’s hatred of sin never leaves him confused about his love for you.

God loves you.  He loved you when you were cutting, and he loves you today.  He would keep on loving you if you went back to cutting.  Love and behavior are not connected to each other.

Lastly, God is not confused about who you are.  By I wonder if you are.  Your sin confirms that you are a sinner.  But that’s it.  The plans he had for you when he made you – to give you a hope and a future, to use you to change the world, the raise up a Godly husband or wife for you – those plans have not changed.  You have not been diminished or lessened.  You are not tainted or different.  You are not damaged goods.

No, you are the adopted child of the King of the universe.  You are a treasure that was buried in a field.  God saw you, covered in dirt, and he bent down, and dusted you off, and got a good look at you, and He. Was. Excited.  He said to himself, “My mind’s made up.  I’m selling everything I’ve got, I’m buying this field, I must have this person with me.”  Well, it turned out money wasn’t enough.  The field had to be paid for in blood.  So God said, “Ok.  No problem.”  And he stretched out his arms and he died.

That makes you his.  You are his child.  That’s who you are.  You are not a girl who used to cut herself.  That’s something you did, not who you are.  You are a child of God.  You are not a girl who got confused and had a same-sex relationship.  That’s something you did, not who you are.  You are a child of God. 

Take hold of that identity.  Live into it.  Run full speed after it.  Forget what is behind, and press on towards what is ahead.  What is behind you never meant anything anyway.  But what is ahead…well, that’s worth living for.