God’s Grace and Mercy
When you become saved, you are saved by your faith alone, in the forgiveness and grace offered by Jesus Christ alone. These are the fundamental concepts of what is known in Christianity as the reformation, or the claim brought forth in the late 1500’s by a German monk named Martin Luther that countered the group think of the Roman Catholic Church, the thought that salvation could be purchased by financial contributions or works. Jesus Christ is who are you saved by, but what are you saved from?
You are saved from your sins against God, and the just penalty you would otherwise face without the intervening grace and mercy offered to you by Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. But what happens if you sin after you have been saved?
Can We be Sinless?
There’s a ton of debate on this question, that is: can humans be sinless? The short answer I subscribe to is: we won’t be sinless in this lifetime. Sin is so deeply rooted into the hearts of mankind that it seems it’d be impossible to escape it for now, and we certainly could not do so on our own strength.
It takes no time at all to think of the countless sins I’ve committed in my life, and the list isn’t what I would call ‘short’ since being rescued by Christ. The enemy of God, Satan, would love nothing more than to use these sins and the weight they carry to shame you and paralyze your growth in your relationship with Jesus. I know you hear the voice inside your head. It sounds a lot like your voice, telling you that you could never be sinless, you’re too lost, you’ve done too much wrong, and you should abandon any hope in God ever deeming you worthy. But the truth is, it has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with the worth of His Son, Jesus, who said your sins are “forgiven”. This is what makes you acceptable to God. That is ‘Grace’.
This is not a free pass to go on sinning. Jesus Christ said “Repent, and believe…”. There is a glaring requirement here besides just believing, and that is to repent. One who freely revels in their sins and gives no regard to their implications usually shows no fruit of a repentant believer in Christ Jesus. Contrarily, one who comes to hate their sins, mourns them when they occur, and strives daily to put the sin to death by praying for the Father’s help and spending time in the word will, in time, usually see the bondage of the accompanying guilt and shame broken, and the sin will hopefully be a distant memory. This process is called sanctification, or to be made holy.
The unfortunate part, for us, is because of the depth of the roots of sin we usually have to fight a war on many fronts. Lust for sex, porn, greed, excess, anger, dishonesty, infidelity, gluttony, envy, and our PRIDE are all faced daily in our culture. Sometimes the fight seems to already be lost before we even realize we are in the midst of battle.
We are told in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, to put on the ‘armor’ of God (Ephesians 6:11) to protect ourselves from the devil’s schemes. The devil will shower you with distraction, guilt, and shame when you’ve been called to follow Christ and still find yourself falling short of Christ Himself (Romans 3: 23). Remember the disciples, each of them with their flaws and faults, were still called by Jesus and sanctified over the course of their life as His followers.
The best way to armor up and protect yourself from the lies of the enemy are to read and pray daily. When you do this you will begin to intimately discover what kind of savior died for you, and His loving nature. One of the best illustrations we have in the Bible, while its origin is disputed, accurately depicts the loving and gracious nature of Jesus Christ when confronting a sinner, an adulteress more specifically. In John 8, after the hypocrites have dispersed and Jesus faces the adulteress, He doesn’t require her to be clean or without sin before He passes His judgment on her, nor does He ask her for some sort of work in return for salvation. He freely offers it to her.
He simply says, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”
I know the struggle of lust. It’s a battle that seems to have no end, in a war that too often already seems lost. Pornography addictions very often lead to sexual addictions, and compulsive, reckless behavior that destroys families, relationships, and can even end lives. When I realized what I had was not just something “natural”, or that it wasn’t okay “because everyone does it”, I realized it because it was ruining me. It was ruining, even more, a marriage that had been built on lust and no understanding or belief in what marriage was created by God to be.
This life I wanted so badly to escape at nearly 26 years old was the only life I had known since I was eleven years old. It may not be fair to say this filth ruined me, rather, it may be more accurate to say it kept me from ever knowing who I was. I would not know who that person was until I found out who this God was I had constantly rejected pretty much my whole life. What I found out told me it was possible to escape this death grip.
I found out, in the midst of much sel-loathing, guilt-filled regret, and suicidal thoughts that God is a God who loves us, in spite of us. He is a God who fights for us, even when we fight Him, and try to do it our way. When we realize this, who He is, we are faced with who we are: Wretched Sinners. We could not save ourselves or make ourselves worthy to be in the presence of God, even if we somehow possessed the power to do so.
If we could save ourselves, the Jews would have done so when they faced the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exodus 14), but they couldn’t. God brought them there to show them just that; He is the ONLY way to life. Without His love, our story ends in the Garden when Adam and Eve failed God. It ends in bondage, slavery, and death had it not been for grace and mercy from the Author of Life. He gives life, and He saves life.
God parted the sea, not because the Israelites worshiped Him flawlessly, but so they would really see God for His might, glory, and most of all, His love. He did not ‘fight’ for the perfect people, or for the righteous. He fought for HIS people, in all of their brokenness, doubt, sins, and contentment for less than Him. He broke into their lives when they thought He had forgotten them and hardened their hearts. We are His, not because of what we do for Him, but because HE says we are His.
If God needed us to be perfect before He rescued us, there would be no grace or mercy. If we could be perfect God would not have needed to send His Son to bring us new life by laying His down for ours (John 3:16-17). No, instead, He meets us where we are to save us from ourselves, and to save us from the guilt and shame of our sins. His grace is stronger than our guilt, and His mercy reaches further than any sin I’ve ever committed, or any sin you could commit.
This is the freedom you seek, and the cure for the addiction you feel. This is the Good News of the Christian life. And this is the way out for the man or woman who feels trapped by their lusts. He is the Savior who can make this life you live now a distant memory. He is the only way to life, and He forgives you like He forgave Adam, and He will save you like He has saved the Israel of the Old Testament, and like the wretched sinners Christ has come to save in the New.
Don’t just cry out in your guilt and shame and face another day alone. Cry out to your savior. He WILL fight for you.
This post is a “re-post” of a great article forwarded to me by a friend:
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6, ESV).
If you’re a follower of Jesus—if by faith you have turned from your sins and received His forgiveness—I have news for you.
God is after you.
IF YOU’RE A FOLLOWER OF JESUS, GOD IS STILL PURSUING YOU.
He’s still pursuing you. Wanting more of you. Hungry to make sure you’re experiencing every blessing that His Son died and rose again to give you, for His glory.
It doesn’t matter how defeated or discouraged you are today. He’s still after you. All that matters is that you are His. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus said, “and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Is that you? Following Him? Not perfectly, of course, but following? Sometimes stumbling, but still getting up? And following? And trying again? And wanting to follow Him even better, even more?
Then God Himself is also following you. He’s on your trail. He’s after you. Promising you that your best days are still ahead of you, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Your greatest days of usefulness and service to God are still in the future, because “goodness” (defined as bounty and blessing) and “mercy” (lovingkindness and favor) will be on your heels and hunting you down every second of the time.
Can’t be true, you say . . .
Too many failures. “I’ve failed God too many times. No way am I on His first team anymore. I’ve blown it. I have areas in my life where I’ve never gotten victory. Even today I failed again. I’m on the shelf from here on out, and I know it.”
Too many years. “It’s too late for me. Too much water under the bridge. It’s fine for those who came to Christ as kids or in college or whatever. But I showed up late to the party. The best I can do is just sneak into a back corner of heaven.”
Too many others. “I don’t have any big-time gifts. I don’t have any great abilities. Other people have training and know what they’re doing. Not me. I’m just not that important. It might even be wrong for me to get in their way.”
Too many obstacles. “I’ve got so many things going on in my life right now—work, family, health stuff, all of it—I don’t really have time. And I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”
Believe me, I’ve heard all these lies and dodges before. They’re as old as time, because the enemy will do anything to convince you that God has lost the scent and given up on you.
But just you try staying hidden behind these shadowy half-truths. Just you try imagining you’re out of sight, out of mind. Just you try giving in to the unreality that your home and heart are off His grid, out of His hunting zone.
Because, listen. Can you hear it? It’s the panting of the hound of heaven, running full-speed, headed your way, chasing you down. Following you “all the days” of your life—not to rip into you, but to restore you and refresh you, to overwhelm all of life’s badness with His “goodness.”
- Which of these fears and excuses have sometimes convinced you that God’s “goodness and mercy” are not coming for you anymore?
- How different would your life be, even today, if you wholeheartedly embraced this truth?
Lord God, I believe Your Word, even when I doubt myself. I believe what You have done to claim me as Your own, even when I too often resist You and choose my own way. Thank You for loving me enough to want me experiencing the full blessing of relationship with You. And thank You for relentlessly pursuing me until I’m actively living in it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
article source: https://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/devotionals/2017-09-15/
You may ask yourself this question. However, you may be asking the wrong question…
Your behaviors are not the source of the problem… it is your thoughts…
One of the first steps to recovering from an addiction is to correct negative ways of thinking and faulty or wrong belief systems.
In CBT, these are called negative schemas. Changing how we think causes us to change what we believe. Changing what we believe results in changes to our behaviors. In my work with pornography addicts, one common goal is the attempt to repair and/or rebuild my clients’ worldview.
The following are ways of thinking that fuel [and perpetuate] sexual addictions. Which of the following do you believe and tell yourself often?
- Normal sexual behaviors and desires are wrong.
- I am alone and no one will [or can] meet my needs.
- I must give in to sexual urges and desires they are too powerful for me to resist. [no choice]
- I am worthless, unlovable.
- I can only trust myself to meet my needs.
- My sexual needs are my most important needs.
- I am powerless to control my life. [I am not responsible for my actions]
- I am a dirty pervert.
- Others exist to meet my needs because I deserve it.
- Others entice me and I cannot help myself. [I am not responsible for my actions]
- Others are here for my pleasure.
- If no one sees [what I do], it does not matter.
- If no one knows [what I do] it cannot hurt them.
- I cannot live without sexual release.
- I cannot live without my addiction. [It is who I am]
- I am not hurting anyone by watching porn.
- It is nobody’s business what I do with my own body.
- I am not capable of handling my own life.
- I am unattractive, stupid, ugly, unlovable…
- I cannot be free…
If you believe any of the above statements, you are believing lies. Seek truth. Seek help.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you will eventually (if you haven’t already) realize that you do not have the strength to overcome your addiction on your own. I challenge everyone to Seek God for His help in this time; for He is the only true source of limitless help and strength. If you don’t know Him, you can… right now. Start Here:
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. 13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10; 13 NLT)
In addition to seeking the Lord, enlist the help of other people. Admit it. You have an addiction. If you could quit you already would have quit. You need help overcoming an addiction to pornography, and you need others to hold you accountable. You may need someone to show you the path to recovery. If so, please reach out to a local counselor/therapist with experience treating sexual addictions. Start your journey to freedom… today.
If you are looking for help recovering, and live in the Upstate of SC, consider reaching out:
I currently serve as Counseling Pastor for a church in the upstate of South Carolina. I hold a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Liberty University. I am awaiting my scheduled time to sit for the SC LMFT-I licensing exam.
It is my goal to help rebuild broken lives and families from the inside-out through awakening and fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. I specialize in helping men recover from addictions to sex and pornography. I run a support group for recovering men on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm.
Great post that I read recently.. had to share:
I spend a fair amount of time on Reddit and other online communities interacting with people who are trying to find freedom from porn. One thing I’ve noticed, though, is there seems to be a tendency for folks to come down hard on themselves when they relapse.
“I looked at porn again after 30 days clean. God must be so mad at me.”
“I screwed up and masturbated last night, why am I such a horrible person?”
“Why can’t I fix myself? I suck at being a Christian.”
You get the idea.
I wish I had the time to respond to every one of these posts and let them know that God isn’t mad at them. Seriously. In fact, this whole idea that God becomes angry with us when we fall is likely one of the major factors in their ongoing struggle to find freedom from porn.
It’s easy for us to see all the crap in our lives as a huge pile of trash, with us on one side and God on the other. We think we need to clean it up before we can get anywhere close to the Father. But the more we try to shovel it down, the more we realize we’re just adding more to it every day.
If you look closer at the Gospels, though, you’ll realize that’s not a very good description of how God actually views you. The truth is He sent Jesus to walk around that pile of trash, put His arm on your shoulder, and offer to clean it up for you. Better yet, Jesus promises to stand with you at all times to make sure any additional trash that gets dumped on the pile is immediately removed as well—which includes those times you still look at porn.
That’s what Jesus meant when He said “It is Finished.”
Not “It was finished, but now you went and screwed it up by looking at porn again.”
“It is finished.”
All your sin, past, present, and even future sin, has been paid for on the cross. Your entire pile of junk was removed giving you a clear path to the Father. (Think about it, how much of your sin was future sin when Jesus was on the cross? All of it!)
So instead of feeling like you need to hide from God, clean up your life, or worse yet, beat yourself up when you look at porn, I’d encourage you to run back to God, knowing that He is a loving and approachable Father.
In the same way the father of the prodigal son looked to the horizon daily hoping for his boy to return (knowing full well what he had done), your Father in heaven is eagerly waiting for you to come back to His embrace as well.
He doesn’t want you to “work off your debt.”
He doesn’t need to hear your well-thought-out excuses.
He won’t require you to earn your place back starting as a hired servant.
He doesn’t think you suck, or that you’re a horrible person.
He loves you, and all He wants to do is throw a party to celebrate your return, because there is always a place for you at His table, regardless of what you’ve done.
Author: Stephen Kuhn on July 1st, 2016