Too often, we define ourselves through sin. When we mess up, we verbally and mentally abuse ourselves. You’re so stupid. Or, when we know what to do but don’t do it, then we just give up, Why even try? This vicious cycle of defeat can be terribly frustrating and create anxiety and fear in our lives.
Here’s how Paul, the Apostle, described his own experience with sin: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15). When we are sin-conscious, all we see is our mistakes, our failures, our shortcomings.
The Garden of Eden is a great example of what happens when we move from being God-conscious to sin-conscious. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve enjoyed an incredible relationship with God. They walked together in the cool of day and spent time together. Their fellowship was invigorating and full of life! There was no awareness of sin. There was no right or wrong. No rules. There was no knowledge of good or evil. There was just fellowship with God.
Then sin happened. Immediately, humanity was aware of sin. They had become sin-conscious: they were hyper aware of their failures, mistakes and shortcomings. So, when God showed up, they hid themselves. Adam said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
The immediate response to sin is shame. When shame sets in, we hide ourselves from God and we become afraid. We often experience fear because we pull away from God due to sin and shame. I don’t believe God ever pulls away from us. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). It’s always us pulling away from him. Like Adam, we hide ourselves from him because of shame. And in the same way, God is continually pursuing us because of he loves us so much.
From the day Adam and Eve sinned, all of humanity has lived sin-conscious, defining ourselves by following rules, doing what is right and not doing what is wrong. Today, many, many people live sin-conscious. But, that’s not how God wants us to live.
When Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life and then died for our sins, he made a way for us to be sinless in God’s eyes. In Christ, we are no longer sinners. In Christ, we are perfect, holy and righteous. In Christ, we have moved from being sinners to being saints.
“But, I still sin.”
Yes, so do I. As long as we live in these physical, mortal bodies, we will experience sin. If you continue reading in Romans 7, Paul talks about this war in our members (our bodies) that wages on continually (v. 23). But, our flesh (our body) is not who we are. We are spirit and soul. The real you is not defined by the physicalness of your body. “Your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Sin has very real consequences in this life. If you murder, there are consequences. If you steal, there are consequences. If you treat your body poorly, there are consequences. Sin will affect your physical life. But, sin should not define you because in Christ, God does not see your sin.
Honestly, we have it backwards.
We think that because of sin God is not pleased with us, so we try harder not to sin and clean up our lives. If we can stop sinning for awhile, then we can go to God with our needs. We wait to be clean in our own eyes before we approach God. But, that’s backwards.
God says, “You are clean and holy in Christ right now. Come to me as you are and let me help you with those areas of weakness.” Strength to stop sinning does not come from us trying harder. It comes from spending time with God and allowing him to help us.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:17).
Prayer: Father, reveal to me that my sins are gone, washed away and that I am holy and perfect in your eyes.