I woke up exhausted. Thoughts racing through my mind made it difficult to fall asleep. When I did sleep, it was a restless sleep filled with tossing and turning. A little after 5:00 am, I gave up and reluctantly dragged myself out of bed, deciding to spend some time with the Lord. Yet, even as I sat before Him in prayer, I struggled.
I kept replaying the thoughtless words I had said the day before and how my untamed tongue caused me to sin. My mouth gets me into trouble more often than I care to admit. It frequently leaves me fretting over what I wish I hadn't said.
An out-of-control mouth isn't the only thing that causes me to sin. Frankly, it doesn't matter what the sin is; when I remember it, it plagues my thoughts bringing guilt and shame.
Sin has a way of doing that, doesn't it? When we sin, it seems to rapidly consume parts of our life, causing us to feel hopeless and broken. If left to fester, sin will make us believe it's part of who we are. We begin to feel helpless to stop whatever sin has its grip on us. We start to think we're a failure and that there is nothing we can do to stand against that sin, so we may as well give in and let it take over. Sin tries to define us.
Perhaps you, too, have felt the crushing weight of sin trying to bind you and make you buy into the lie that it is just who you are. You've messed up again, so what's the point in struggling anymore? Just give in and admit you will always make the same mistakes.
As I prayed early that morning, I asked the Lord to release me from the guilt and shame that seemed to be binding me. As I did, the Holy Spirit brought a familiar Scripture to mind.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
As I meditated on that passage, the Holy Spirit reminded me of who our God is. Our sin doesn't change who He is, and there is great hope in that understanding.
God is Love
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases." Lamentations 3:22 (ESV)
Sometimes we're tempted to think our sin makes us unlovable by a Holy God, but that's a thought from the enemy in an attempt to limit who God is. We must understand that love isn't just something God does; it is who He is. 1 John 4:8 (ESV) puts it succinctly, "God is love."
No matter what we've done in our past, we can be assured that God continues to love us. What we did or didn't do won't change God. Yes, God hates our sin, but He still loves us because love is who He is!
God is Faithful
"Great is your faithfulness!" Lamentations 3:23 (ESV)
When we sin, and have no doubt we will, God is faithful to forgive us. 1 John 1:9 (ESV) promises that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
The enemy wants to make us believe our sin defines us. That's a scheme he uses to prevent us from turning to the Father and asking forgiveness to receive His mercy and be renewed in Christ's righteousness. The enemy knows that if he can keep us preoccupied with our mistakes, we will think that sin is part of who we are. If we believe that sin defines us, he can keep us stuck in the cycle of that sin.
Living in the sin cycle not only keeps us down, but it also prevents us from fulfilling our Kingdom role and sharing the gospel of Jesus with others. The enemy doesn't want anyone else to learn about Jesus, so believing we are stuck in our sin is right where he wants us. We must remember the promise that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and put the righteousness of Jesus back onto us! We can have confidence in that promise because God is faithful to forgive.
The Freedom of Love and Faithfulness
"His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning." Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
Every day we have the opportunity to accept new mercy from the God of love and faithfulness. Every singly morning, He is waiting, ready to pour out new mercy on us because He knows we need it. So, how do we get His mercy and find freedom from our sin?