We’ve all been there before. We’ve promised God that we will never do or say or think those things again. Maybe we were convicted in a church service, a Bible study class, or even our personal devotional time. Maybe we were all alone, feeling guilty over what had just transpired in our life. We felt dirty, even worthless before God.
How could we head down that same sinful road again? We’ve been there a thousand times before! That same cycle:
Temptation –> Disobedience –> Shame –>
Guilt –> Repentance –> Feeble Promises
Unfortunately, for many of us Christians, this is an all too familiar repetition in our lives. We begin to think that if only we can keep ourselves from doing/saying/thinking that thing for a long enough time, then everything will be okay. The problem is, that we constantly are battling our sin nature.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?” Another way of saying that is, “Our heart is more perverse than anything in the world, and it is beyond human cure!”
In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul tells us that the good things he wants to do, he does not do, and the evil things he does not want to do, he does. He ends that passage with, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?” (Romans 7:24)
That doesn’t seem very hopeful, but Paul begins chapter 8 of Romans with, “Therefore no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
The Christian life is not a life of do’s and don’ts. It is a life of freedom to love God above all else. When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He responded with, “Love the Lord your God with all that you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.” In John 14 Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” And again, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.” And yet again, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
So our goal needs to be focused on loving Jesus, not trying to “do the right things.” Because when we truly love Jesus, we will choose to obey Him! So then, how do I learn to love Jesus more?
- Personal, daily reading of the Bible, meditating on it, and praying.
- Weekly corporate worship in fellowship with God’s people.
- Regular small group discipleship with other believers.
- Ongoing reading of Christian books and blogs, and listening to sermons and podcasts from Biblical preachers.
- Yearly local, national, and international serving of believers and non-believers.
When we get the focus off of our behavior modification and onto loving Jesus with all that we are, we will be able to break that sinful cycle of shame and guilt.