When I first came to Christ, I was a big time sinner. Who isn’t right? It seems like I probably have committed most of the sins there are – drinking, drugs, promiscuous sex, sexual immorality, witchcraft, divorce, adultery, lying, stealing, swearing, taking the Lord’s name as a swear word, blasphemy, hate and violence. Wow! Is there anything else left outside of murder? I’m not really sure. All I know is it was an absolute miracle that I came to God at all. It all started with walking into a Presbyterian church one Sunday morning, after never really have been to a Christian church in my entire life. I am often asked how I came to God, and the only answer that I can come up with is God. It was God Himself who brought my family into that church that morning. No person led us there, and it was completely out of left field that we even considered going to a Christian church. I was steeped in sin and loving it.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
The Holy Spirit did a good work on me once He got me into church. We began going to church every week and started to read the Bible, leading up to a baptism for my husband, one of my sons and myself. I believe this is when the real changes began to occur in my life. I lost all desire to drink or do drugs, to cuss, take the Lord’s name in vain, and much more. It only progressed into changing my dress to be more modest, not watching violence on TV (or sex and drugs, etc.) and more. The Holy Spirit was cleansing my soul in a way that was absolutely refreshing! I felt close to Jesus and was in love with Him. My relationship grew and grew until I came to this great place where I thought I had “made it” so to speak. Wow! Being a Christian was amazing, and the best experience of my life! Being with God was beyond anything I had every known that was supposed to be fun or exciting. He filled my heart and soul and brought me to completion. Could it get any better?
And yet it did! My relationship with Jesus continued to grow as He poured out His spiritual gifts and blessings onto me. It was amazing! Yet there were other problems I had. Problems with anger, and problems with my health. They were plaguing me and causing me suffering. Soon my relationship with Jesus took the back seat as I tried to just function every day. My health problems consumed my entire life. I was miserable and soon began to believe God had abandoned me. Finally I had a deliverance session that cleared up my brain fog and left me able to breathe again, enough to begin to restore my relationship with Jesus (at least on my side, because He really never left me). But my anger was still there. So I decided to try getting help, because I wanted to claim the victorious life that I knew Jesus had for me.
for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 1:4
I began a journey of inner healing which would completely change my life. For the worse (OK it just seemed that way). Many of the bad behaviors, the sin that I had thought I left behind, came creeping back in to my life. Swearing, hate, anger, revenge, lying, and more popped up on a daily basis. I was in shock – shouldn’t inner healing cause healing?! I was absolutely regressing! How could this be? I was also moving farther away in my relationship with God, as I lived in almost constant pain and anger. I was unable to see outside of it for very long and my favorite thing in the world – worship, was something that was lost to me.
I know this sounds bad, but it is actually very good. How can regressing into so much sin possibly be good? Well, it is a part of the healing process. You see I thought God had healed those things in me and cleansed me of my sin. The problem is, that long list of sins I wrote out, were not simply because I was a sinner. Yes, we are all born sinners, and the Bible makes that clear, but we behave this way for more reasons than just being sinners. Many of these sins, these behaviors so offensive to God, are done out of pain and trauma. As a young child I had experienced extreme abuse and it caused me so much pain and anger that as a young adult I blamed God for all of it, and tried to cover it up with drugs, alcohol and sex. I also had severe demonic oppression that led me into witchcraft, the occult and new age. Demons are able to gain access into our bodies through the false beliefs that come with pain and trauma. Sin is not always as black and white as it seems.
It is so easy to judge those around us who we see sinning. Maybe they are alcoholics, drug addicts, addicted to porn, promiscuous, dress provocatively, gamble and so on. We see this and we get angry and want to judge them. How could they call themselves Christian and behave this way? Don’t they know how wrong this sin is, how offensive to God this is? Or maybe they are not a Christian and are just lost in the world. We look at them and feel sorry for them, because we know they just need Jesus. And it’s true! We all need Jesus. But guess what? God is not offended by their behavior. Shocking isn’t it? Isn’t that what we are taught, God hates sin? You’re right, He absolutely does. But you are forgetting one very important thing – Jesus died to cleanse us all from sin before the eyes of God the Father. Therefore no one is seen before the eyes of our Holy God as sinners, but as His beautiful children. Jesus did not die and suffer so only some of us sinners could be saved, but to clear the name of every person on this earth, and free them from their sentence of capital punishment. Every body. The Bible makes it clear that Jesus died for all. Does this mean every person will be saved? No it does not. But every person’s name has been cleared until the time of their judgement. If God saw us all as sinners, He would have to turn His back on each of us until we repented and accepted Jesus. That is not the God of the Bible, that is a God of condemnation and judgement, who forsakes us. We are the most broken and in need before we come to Christ. God does not turn His back on sinners, looking down on them as they continue to sin, He loves them. That is why Jesus came into the world – because of the intense love of our God, our Father. God can’t help but love us.
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:15
We are born into a world full of evil. It is the devil’s domain, and he is proud of it. He strives daily to take every single person away from God; to cause them to hate Jesus, turn on Him, and believe God hates them as well. With the help of our natural tendencies to sin, the devil is very successful at his job many times. At least for a season. God is willing that none should perish, and moves heaven and earth to reconcile with each one of His children. Yet because of the prevalent evil and sin in the world, many people suffer and experience, abuse, trauma, pain, disease, death, violence and more. It tears them apart, breaks them down, and causes them to become unable to function the way God designed us to. Many of us are walking around so broken that we can’t help but rely on drugs or sex or lying or other sins to get through our lives. We are so full of pain and despair we don’t even have any idea how deep it runs; like a river that threatens to rise above the shore. That pain is always just below the surface, and because of it, more often than not, we choose to sin in many ways. Does this pain make our sin excusable? No, but it makes it understandable. God knows our hearts and minds, and what we have been through. He has been through it all, with each one of us. He knows how hard it has been, and to what extent we can cope with the things that go wrong in our lives. He sees the sin we commit, but He does not see us as the sin we commit. Instead He sees the pain and brokenness in each of us, and knows why we make the choices we do.
God wants nothing more than to abolish our pain and heal our broken lives. He wants nothing more than to bring us closer to Him, to live in a restored and loving relationship with Him. I have heard many people who view God as a God who is always judging us and make us follow a set of rules to act right and be a certain way. You have to follow all the rules of the Old Testament, you can’t do this and you can’t do that or you are offending God and making Him mad. You need to believe this and not believe that are you are going to hell. I completely understand that, because when I first started reading the Bible, I felt the same way. I was offended by sin, I was offended by sinners and I was convinced that God couldn’t favor those who kept on sinning. That is because I had still yet to come into a deeper understanding of how God loves. God’s love has no conditions on it, ever. You do not need to act a certain way or do a certain thing to receive His love. That is what religion tells us, not Jesus.
Condemnation is not of God but of the devil. He is the Father of Lies and wants only to destroy our souls. So when we are looking down on other sinners of the world and thinking how bad they are, we are not in line with the mind of Christ. Underneath that sinner is a lost soul and a broken heart, crying out for love and desperate for healing. Just like you. They may seem like they have it all together, or they may just seem mean and nasty, but inside their hearts are fractured and crushed into a million pieces. Only Jesus can save us and heal that broken mess inside of us. It is our job to love all those around us, sinners or not. To stop looking at them as a bunch of lowly sinners, and start looking at them as fragile jars of clay that need a little TLC. While it may not be our job to fix the mess, it is certainly our job to love them right in the middle of their mess. Even when we are in the middle of our own mess. We need to take a good look around and realize that the person standing right next to you is crying out for help and hurting just as much as we are. Let each of us reach out and share our burdens’ with the next person, so we can comfort each other and help each other find the heart of Jesus.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
I know many Christians who are living in shame because they are struggling with a particular sin. If you are struggling with a sin that you can’t get rid of, that does not mean God is mad at you, or looks down on you. You have the grace and mercy of Christ! The mercy of Jesus triumphs over judgement. If you are struggling it is seriously time to take a deeper look at the root of where this sin is coming from. You have moved past just being a sinner in need of Jesus to having a deep root of pain or trauma that has led to this sin. And the devil is using this pain to push you further into sin, so you will believe you are not good enough for God. You are enough for God! You are worthy! He wants you, all of you and your sinful self! Jesus is the only way to freedom from this world, and all it’s pain and evil. He is the only way to life in abundance. But you must come unhindered by the weight of sin and shame. There is no place for shame at the foot of Christ.
I also know many non-Christians who won’t even look twice at the cross of Christ because they don’t want to be condemned by being told they are full of sin. They have already been condemned by Christians, telling them they are going to hell. That is not the message of the cross! Jesus came to give us freedom from sin, to give us eternal life, and His amazing love. No one can receive this wonderful gifts when they are being condemned to hell without having a chance to experience the love of God. Not once did Jesus meet people and tell them they were sinners going to hell. He saw right through the pain and brokenness and reached out to them right where they were. How can we hope to heal ourselves or reach the lost if we continue to view sin as a one way ticket to hell. We are not going to hell because we keep sinning, we are going to hell if we don’t accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. His love and atonement covers our sins, every single one of them!
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!