A common misconception of what it means to live a life pursuing Christ: you, a “model Christian” must be perfect all of the time. Really – think about it – you may not even be aware that you expect this of yourself. I tell myself daily that I am enough, that God loves me despite my sin, that I am not enslaved to this sin because Jesus died to set me free. But then I condemn myself when I mess up.
The guilt overwhelms me; I feel unworthy of any of His love; I will never be enough.
These lies are not of God. They are of the enemy. He is using my insecurity to make me believe that my relationship with God is dependent on my doing and not on His.
We are called to live for Him, dependent on Him. We are called to live in community with friends who will keep us accountable and will love us through our struggles. We are not called to live perfectly, free from sin. We are not called to a sinless life because, for humans, that is impossible.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8
So, how can I stop condemning myself when I sin without in turn, living in sin? Where is that balance?
When I sin, I want to confess it to Jesus immediately. I want to surround myself with friends who will show me grace but will also remind me of the better life God wants for me. I want to lean on Him so I can strive to live a life modeled after Christ.
And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another that you may be healed.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
I don’t want to be lazy in my sin. I don’t want to grow numb to my sin through recognition of how deeply human I am. A friend of mine once asked me, “What is the point of trying to live like Jesus if we can never be perfect? Why do we even waste our time confessing our sins?”
My friend has a point. It often doesn’t make sense to people why Christians are so caught up in “accountability,” and “confession,” and “redemption.” But when you come to know Jesus, and you receive the Holy Spirit, it all starts to make a little more sense. I imitate Christ because I want people to know His perfect love. And if I allow the fact that I am innately sinful to get into the way of me being prayerful in my decisions, then I am disregarding who God is and what He did for us.
I don’t settle for my sin because I know that God wants more for me than negative thoughts, lustful feelings, selfishness, body image issues, self-doubt, cynicism, and anger. I don’t settle for my sin because I know that giving it over to my Father is like taking the deepest inhale of fresh mountain air; it is refreshing to the soul, light and airy and free. I share my sin with my friends because I know they get it – they’re human, too. I share my sin with my friends because they’ll remind me, in love for me, that God wants more for me than that brokenness. I don’t settle for my sin because I know that Jesus suffered, was mocked, and died for that reason: so that I didn’t have to settle.
I want to challenge you, reader, to never grow complacent. Although we sin daily, I pray that we never use that as an excuse to give up on Jesus and stop asking God for forgiveness. He will always welcome us back with open arms and He will always forgive us because of who He is – an unconditionally loving Father.
-Hunter Folsom // @hunterfolsom