“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
– Isaiah 59:2

Grace, Mercy and Sin
So real quick, I’m going to get a little academic. What is grace?  The Bible generally defines grace as the unearned love that God shows towards man. What is mercy?  In the Bible, mercy typically refers to forgiveness or withholding punishment. So my way of looking at it is grace is the love that God has towards us while mercy is the time He gives us to make changes in our lives before His protection is removed. What is sin? Real simple, sin is disobedience to what God has told us to do.  Sin is when we choose to do what we want even when it goes against God.

Addicted to Sinning
Here is the problem with sin: every time I sin, it pushes me away from my relationship with God. I lose a piece of the connection that I have with Him. So if I know this, why do I keep sinning?  There are many reasons: I feel justified; I’m emotional; It makes me feel better; I give up.  I sin, because I am addicted to sinning. In some way, I chose to sin, because I think that my way is better, or at least feels better, than doing it His way. I chose selfishness over being a servant and being close to God.

The Church Answer
Sin only feels good for a season. If you are truly a Christian, you are going to feel the longing to be back in relationship with God. If you don’t, then you probably aren’t really saved to start with.  Modern churches say that the way back is grace and mercy. You can’t earn His favor.  He will withhold punishment on His people, because He is merciful. While I do believe this is partially true.  I don’t believe it is the full picture. Modern churches often sell a cheap grace where nothing is required.  Just say the special chant of forgiveness, and you are back in.

The Biblical Answer
Grace is free but mercy is earned. God loved us before we loved him (1 John 4:19); therefore, His love for us never goes away. Even when people choose not to follow Him, He will happily welcome them back, if they came back to Him. However, His mercy and protection from consequences is directly contingent on what we do. Essentially God grants us mercy for us to do what is right. If we continue to sin, He will remove His mercy.  So if you want to have God’s mercy, you have to repent AND change what you are doing.

This is a tough one. The church has sold the idea that just confessing our faults is enough to repent.  I don’t think it is. Matthew 5:23-24 says, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”   The Bible says that confession isn’t enough.  We must make amends to God and our fellow man if we have wronged them. To me, repenting means to take action to right the wrong that you’ve done, and restore the balance with the other person. Not just saying, “I’m sorry.” So when we sin, first we make amends, then we stop doing it.

Guarding Against Sin
So here is one way to guard against sin: Be more like Christ. I know most of you are saying, “Thanks.  That is super helpful.”  So, let’s go a little deeper. Most of us think that being more like Christ means that we should just not sin. That would be great, but just not sinning is like holding onto a hot pan and waiting for it to cool down. You ain’t gonna do it, and it really isn’t a solution to your burning hand.

So, what was Christ really like?  The two most important features of Christ that I have noticed lately is that He loved God, and He loved the people around Him.  Ultimately, He looked for God’s will in His life and treated God like He was a real person that He could have a relationship with. Secondly, He embodied the nature of being selfless. It was never about Him or what He needed or wanted.  It was always God’s plan and how it related to the people around Him (Matthew 22:36-40).

Walking it Out
So if you are struggling with sin (which we all do), the first thing to do is pray. There is no way to have a relationship with God besides praying. I don’t just mean set aside time before bed or meals. Make praying a habit. Yes, set aside time to pray, but also make Him a part of your everyday life. Second stop being selfish. You are most likely to get caught in sin when you focus on yourself. For example: I deserve it; I’m justified for acting this way; I’m being treated unfairly.  All the ‘I’ statements and feelings. Look outside of yourself.  How can I help my spouse who I am angry with see Christ’s love better?  I’m suffering right now.  How can I show others Christ’s love, peace, and comfort.

I truly believe that looking for God’s will and seeking His love as well as being less selfish and self-focused will help to ease the burden and cycle of sin. Hope you have a great week walking in His love, joy, and peace.

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32

 – Written by Jeremiah

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