Early on in my Christian walk, I was told exposing your sin is the only way it could be robbed of its power over you. So I did it. I told people. Lots of people. It was hard, and it hurt, and it was tough on my family, especially my wife. When the smoke cleared, I didn’t feel better, or freer, or more holy. The only thing I knew now was the people knew what a horrible sinner I was, and after the initial pats on the back, it seemed as if I hadn’t said a word.
There was one thing I did know after it quieted down. Sin still had power over me. It still had power because it was easy to create new sins if I wanted, and just hide those. Knowing God knew them didn’t help either. I wasn’t feeling convicted over doing something bad the way some talk of it. There wasn’t a lot of wrestling with sin, I’d give in pretty quickly, feel horribly guilty, and never feel Christian enough. My sin was a reminder that God wasn’t in my life. If he was, or more succinctly, if I really was a Christian, I wouldn’t sin. Right?
In my experience, the only thing that has ever helped is a constant reminder of the grace and mercy that come from the cross. The forgiveness that Christ says is mine. The idea that I am not condemned in my sins, has done more that all the guilt I felt over not measuring up or trying to be a Christian. Now, I can say, I have more victories. Now, I can say, I resist much more than in my past.
Here’s the weird thing. The war prior, which felt like more a concession, is now a constant wrestling in my mind, and in my actions. Prior to understanding grace more, my sin, before during or after, was just there in the room with me. I didn’t need much more than a nudge. Now, it buffets the door with blow after blow, demanding entrance, angry over its denial. Some days, getting in only by seeping through from under the door.
There are many days I feel close to the precipice of sin. I feel the strong desire to go down an old rabbit hole, to find a rotten carrot to satisfy me. On rare occasions, I do, but it’s never without much consternation and struggle. Much more than I ever had before.
Here’s the other weird thing. When I easily gave in before, guilt would overwhelm me, and consume me. Now, even in a hard-fought loss against sin, I feel strangely victorious. Not dismissive of my actions, but comforted by Christ, who does not look away even in that moment, but still offers me forgiveness. That understanding helps me, even though I may be inches away from jumping into that dark abyss. It strengthens me so I can walk away from what I never could before.
For the Christian, sin never really needs to be brought into the light, does it? God knew what Adam & Eve did. He knew what Cain did. He knew what Peter would run from as Christ’s death drew near. He knew Saul would persecute many. It’s helpful to open up to others about sin, so you have people to help bear your burdens. But doing so is no guarantor that it is robbed of its power over you. Grace might even be the thing that proves that. How often do we need to sit at the feet of God’s grace, reminded that we are constantly made clean. How often do we need to be encouraged that we are no longer condemned.
We Sin. God Forgives. Grace Reigns.
Let that be your strength, in your weakness.
Let that be your hope when you stand on the edge of darkness, whether you step out into it or fall back to safety.
Forgiveness is always yours. Covered by His grace.