Have you ever blown it? I mean really messed up big time? Like, you're a Christian, and you know God's desires for how you should live, but one day you commit a sin you can hardly believe you are even capable of? And you hate yourself for it. Or is that just me?
Of course we all make mistakes—even Christians. I do think, in many ways, we feel much worse for our sins when we're aware that we know better. We get angry at ourselves for not being further along in our spiritual journey. We get angry that we faltered so badly. Paul of the Bible felt the exact same way:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
"For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." —Romans 7:15-20.
Sound familiar? It's a common problem with all of us. The truth is, salvation and faith in God do not automatically stop us from sinning, making mistakes, or really blowing it. When we're disappointed in ourselves, it's easy to imagine that God must be mad at us too.
In our understanding of justice, God has every right to be mad or even hate us. Thankfully, God treats us with grace and mercy (Hebrews 4:16). No doubt He desires for us to live holy and righteous lives. But God looks at our lives as training grounds. He works with us to help us grow stronger in our faith, to live holy lives (Philippians 4:6-7; James 1:5; Psalm 46:1; Isaiah 41:10).
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God doesn't love us more when we have a "good" day and hate us when we have a "bad" day. Falling in and out of God's favor would be a demoralizing pursuit. Instead, God has taken care of our sin problem through the blood of Jesus Christ. When you accepted Jesus' death on the cross as payment for your sins, that took care of ALL your sins—past, present, and future.
As Christians, this gives us a tremendous freedom. Not freedom to act any way we want to, but freedom to walk this journey toward ever-increasing righteousness without despairing when we really blow it.
Yes, it's right for us to feel regret over sin. Sin creates a barrier between us and God, and that never feels good. When I feel guilty over a sinful act, my natural reaction is to hide from God because I'm so ashamed. Yet God does not condemn us—and neither should you condemn yourself.
Conviction is healthy. Conviction lets us know when we have sinned, are tempted to sin, or are straying from God's path. As we hone the skill of recognizing conviction, it becomes a powerful tool in our arsenal to change course (repent), seek forgiveness, and move in a better direction. Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper (the Holy Spirit) will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” —John 16:7-8
Condemnation is unhealthy. Condemnation tells us, "You're a bad person. You're worthless, a failure, unloved, unlovable, and not saved." Condemnation tells us to give up, to renounce our faith, accept defeat, and live out a miserable existence with no desire to help others find God for themselves. Condemnation comes from Satan.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” —Romans 8:1-2
When we feel convicted of sin, we should repent, seek and receive forgiveness from God, then recommit our lives to one of holiness (1 John 1:9). Sometimes we find we need to change patterns of behaviors or make changes in relationships so we make better choices in the future. It's unwise to remain in a situation where we must constantly the fight temptation to sin. God works with us to help us to see the sin and to be refined. It's a lifelong endeavor, so yes, we can do this over and over, and it's OK!
When we get stuck in a cycle of guilt and condemnation, our relationship with God is hampered. This isn't because God's mad at us but because we assume He is. God doesn't hate us. He doesn't hate you. He wants to be your closest friend and ally in your pursuit to live in a way that pleases Him.
We love praying for our readers, and often we pray that each will receive the assurance of their forgiveness in Christ. We pray that each will rest in the love of their Heavenly Father who delights in them. We pray that each will experience the peace of salvation. We pray that they rejoice in their redemption. And we pray that for you too!
God is not mad at you. The guilt you feel is over the barrier created between you and God due to sin. Yet God does not condemn us—and neither should you condemn yourself (Romans 8:1-2). Conviction of sin is different from condemnation. Conviction comes from God and lets us know when we've sinned, are tempted to sin, or are straying from God's path (John 16:7-8). As we hone the skill of recognizing conviction, it becomes a powerful tool in our arsenal to change course (repent), seek forgiveness, and move in a better direction.
Rhonda is an author, wife, mother, and mentor. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in English and Religious studies. She loves studying God’s Word for truth and wisdom and uses it as a compass and roadmap for her own spiritual journey. Rhonda believes in sharing the Good News and the hope found in Biblical truths with others. She uses her writing and mentoring opportunities (often with a pinch of humor) to do just that.