Are you like me, a sinner saved by Jesus, who often still sins?
That is the biggest struggle in my life, believing that God can still forgive me when I sin again after I’ve experienced his grace; being able to accept his forgiveness for the sin I commit after I’ve learned of his love for me.
A wise counselor once explained to me that the devil works harder on me than he does on people who are at the bar every night. If God wouldn’t still forgive us, why would the devil still bother with us Christians?
At times in my life when I’ve doubted the existence of God, I’ve never had trouble believing in the devil. Although I can’t blame him for my sin, I can surely recognize all the ways he tempts and harasses me.
And he would not need to bother with me if I were not still eligible for god’s grace.
1 Peter 5:8-9: 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Does this mean I need to focus my thinking on the devil all the time?
Another wise teacher once said that experts on counterfeit money do not spend most of their time looking at counterfeit bills. Instead they focus their attention on being more and more familiar with what real money looks like. Then they will recognize when a bill is not correct.
Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
God saved us when we did not love him. But now that we have joined our lives to Jesus, he works even harder for us.
Romans 5:9-10: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
Does that mean we just continue a life of sin and not worry about it? I don’t believe anyone who truly longs for a life with Christ really believes that. Our deepest heart is to obey God.
Romans 6:1-2: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
As a longtime student of the bible, I know the Scriptures which answer these fears I have. Yet I worry that my heart has become too hard, that God’s hope can no longer break through my crust of fear.
Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And yet God’s hope still finds me. His word is living, and he brings to my mind anew the promises that his grace is still for me.
The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, struggled with the wretchedness of sin he still dealt with. I recommend reading the whole of Romans chapter 7, but I want to share a few of the verses of Romans 7:14-25 which God reminded me of recently.
Romans 7: 14-16: We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 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.
19: 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.
21-25: So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.