The Remedy For Our Sin

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 NASB)

I believe every true follower of Christ experiences defeat and spiritual setbacks in their walk with God. However, I am convinced that our success as followers of Christ is not dependent upon how few times we sin, but how many times we run to God to take advantage of His mercy and cleansing.

We all sin and need God’s mercy. It’s when we draw on that mercy that we develop a dependence on God. By having a sensitive heart toward sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and pushes us toward repentance. Because God understands our weakness and temptation toward sin, He gladly receives our confession/repentance (that’s mercy), and then gives us strength to overcome sin (that’s Grace).

One of the rewarding parts of my twenty plus years of counseling was the opportunity to share this truth with my counselees. I found many believers were carrying around a lifetime of guilt. Their continual failure to measure up to what they perceived as God’s standard brought frustration. Therefore, they just stopped bringing their sin to God for forgiveness because they knew they would fail again. Their concept of the Christian life was based on trying to measure up rather than being dependent upon God’s grace and mercy. We know where that way of thinking comes from; it comes from the enemy of our soul.

There must an effort on our part to “set our mind on things above” (Colossians 3), but beyond that, one of God’s objectives when we continue to fail and fall short is to drive us to Him. He wants us to live every moment dependent upon Him. He wants us to become Holy Spirit sensitive to sin. Every time we sin, every cross word we say in anger, every impure thought, He wants us to immediately be aware that we have offended Him.

By becoming sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we will find that there is something supernatural at play here. It’s like God is screaming out to us that He is most willing to give us mercy (that is to forgive and cleanse us), and then He will give us the ability to be victorious over future sin.

Bottom Line

Building a “victorious resume” depends upon how we respond to our present sin. God never intended for us to carry around a weight of sin. He has provided a spiritual relief valve if we will become Holy Spirit sensitive by taking every thought captive to obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). That will lead to a greater sensitivity to hearing God’s voice in every area of your life.

The Lord longs to have intimate fellowship with His children. He wants to reveal more of Himself if we will be willing to let go of more of ourselves. It would be good for us to remember the old saying, “the water of life rarely flows through a dirty vessel”.

Begin today by asking the Lord to help you develop Holy Spirit sensitivity toward sin, and then when you sense you have sinned just “come with confidence to the throne room of grace, so that (you) may find grace and help in the time of need.”

The Blessing of Struggle

How often have you heard the phrase “trouble is your best friend”? No matter how often I hear that phrase; there is something within me that rebels to the very core of my being. Who in his right mind would welcome difficulty?

Whether we like it or not, there is perceived value in struggle. If you are a salesman you must hear an overwhelming number of “no’s” before you get to the “yes’s”. A baseball player endures more failure than successes at the plate. As a matter of fact, an all-star baseball player fails getting on base 70% of the time. I have read where Thomas Edison failed over one thousand times before he successfully invented the light bulb.

Life is about successfully dealing with failure. It’s about getting up off the ground, dusting yourself off and getting back to the task. It sometimes means you do those things you don’t naturally enjoy doing. I read a quote by Success Magazine’s editor Daren Hardy. He said, “If there is a job related task you really don’t want to do, it’s probably the very thing that you should be doing. “

Properly applying lessons learned from failure is a key element to our success. That is true in our day to day challenges, but it is especially true if we want consistent growth in our Christian life.

I have a hunch that most believers think the primary struggle in the Christian life is learning to overcome the devil. But the real battle is surrendering our life to Christ’s control. The ultimate goal is to allow Jesus to live His life through us.

Listed below are four areas of personal struggle that leads us to personal growth. Successfully navigating these four areas of conflict allows us to let go of our “self-effort” mentality and live a more Christ-centered life.

Opposition – Grace can only be experienced when we encounter opposition. How do you respond when someone says something critical or unkind? Or as we like to say in the South, how do you respond when someone “smarts off to you?” Are you reactive, and let them have it, or do you draw on God’s grace in those moments of conflict? Roy Hession writes:

“Every person who crosses us, every person who discourages us is God’s way of breaking us. It creates a deeper channel in us for the life of Christ. The only life that pleases God is His life, never our life. Our self-centered life is the exact opposite of His. We can never be filled with His life unless we are prepared for God to bring our life constantly to death.”

Conflict is God’s way of revealing our flesh. When backed in a corner, what’s inside will come to the surface.

Forgiveness – In order for us to practice forgiveness there must first be hurt or betrayal. Even though God does not create conflict, He allows it in our life to learn the grace of forgiveness. Without practicing the continual act of forgiveness we can never experience the depths of Jesus Christ. Biblical forgiveness says, “I forgive you and release you from the debt of ever making it right with me. “

Hurt – We can never know healing until we have been hurt. The deeper the personal hurt, the deeper the healing. God’s touch goes deeper than the forgiveness of the offender; it creates a healing in us that can only happen when hurt is present. When God allows us to experience deep hurt, He is preparing to do a work deep within us that will result in a new level of intimacy with Him.

Weakness – The opposite of strength is weakness. Weakness must be present in order for us to realize that in and of ourselves we have no strength. As the Scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) When we live out of our weakness we have an unseen strength that allows us to do “all things through Christ that strengthens us. “ (Philippians 4:13)

Weakness does not mean that we are weak and impotent people, it means we are willing to lay down our self-strength for Christ’s strength. I like to describe this kind of strength as “an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove.”

The Bottom line
Yes indeed, trouble is your best friend. Trouble properly received allows us to practice God’s grace and eventually come to the place that nothing or no one can offend us. Trouble allows us to forgive our offenders and keep the debt account at zero. Trouble gives God the opportunity to go deep in the healing process when we are hurt or betrayed. And then the Lord caps off the process by giving us the opportunity to trade in our weakness for His strength.

God in His mercy allows us to go through trouble, and when we do, we are never alone. He is always walking through the process with us. He lovingly endures the suffering with us in order that we might have a greater capacity for His life. During this process we realize that Christ in us makes us complete. He is truly all we need.

Jesus is Never Shocked

Do you realize that Jesus is never shocked at what people do or believe? The New Testament is full of examples of His lack of shock-ability. That’s because Jesus looks beyond what we do or believe in order to show us His love. His major quest is to build a relationship with man, not to judge him for his behavior.

Jesus knew Zaccheus was a thief and a crooked tax collector. He he told Zaccheus to come down from the tree because, “I’m staying at your house tonight.” (Luke 19:5). That one act changed Zaccheus forever; he now had a relationship with God.

When Jesus saw the Samaritan women at the well He wasn’t shocked at her sin. He looked beyond her five marriages and saw her emptiness. He knew she was living with a man and not married, but looked past her present sin and saw the deep longing of her heart. (John 4) He pressed beyond the cultural taboo of speaking to a Samaritan because He cared more about relationship than He did religious practice.

When Jesus dined with Simon the Pharisee and his friends it was evident that Simon’s friends had come to judge Jesus rather than to learn from Him. (Luke 7:36) As the meal was proceeding, an immoral woman crashed the party. Luke writes that she had lived a sinful life.(v37)

Apparently those at the table knew of her reputation for she felt judged and condemned. Yet her longing for peace and redemption drove her to risk further humiliation. For her to take this risk she may have thought that this was her last hope of obtaining God’s forgiveness and mercy.

As she stood at Jesus feet her shame and hope drove her to her knees. Then as an act of humility she began to wash Jesus feet with her tears of repentance. She then took out a bottle of oil mixed with perfume and began to anoint and kiss His feet as her act of worship.

The Pharisees looked on in disbelief that Jesus would allow this sinful woman to wash His feet with her tears. Simon lashed out in contempt, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is, that she is a sinner.” (V 39)

Simon thought Jesus should be shocked at this scandalous woman’s attempt to get his attention. But He wasn’t shocked; He knew her deepest need for forgiveness and restoration. He was moved by her faith and her courage to risk everything just to be touched by God. He could see beyond her sin and visualize a restored life and a relationship as a child of God.

You see, it’s about the heart. Jesus always looks at the heart. Jesus confronted the unloving hearts of His host and friends while this woman demonstrated a heart overflowing with love. Jesus said, “Simon, I have something to tell you” (v. 40).

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denari, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied,“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,”

Then He turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little” (Luke 7:41–47)

Jesus is never shocked because He is able to look beyond our messed up lives. He forgives us, restores us and then floods our heart with His great love. Let’s bask in His great love.

Living Life Looking Backward


Nearly everyone knows someone who is filled with resentment, discouragement, and frustration.  Many of these folks seem to be angry at the world.  Where is this behavior coming from?  It comes from living in the past or as I like to say, “Living life looking backward.”

Living backward is a sure sign that something in the past is controlling the present.  We all have past hurts that we vividly remember.  They are like scars that remind us of previous wounds that we would like to erase from our memories.  The issue here is not do we have scars?  The issue is do we let the scars of the past control our future?

When I teach on the subject of biblical forgiveness I usually have someone approach me afterwards and say to me that they had been taught that true forgiveness is completely forgetting about the past event.  I would respond,“that this is impossible.”  I then tell them the story about me jumping on the bed when I was a kid and landing on a pair of scissors that went up my leg.  The event was frightening, the pain was real and the doctor didn’t use anesthetic when he sewed me up.

Do you think that I can forget that incident, not on your life?  Fifty plus years later I still have the scar to prove it. But the key point is I don’t let this past event control my life. I don’t dwell on the pain and the fright that the doctor caused me, but every once and a while I will see the scar and I will be reminded of that day. My scar reminds me of the painful event.

In a similar manner, when we allow our hurtful past to control our present, we begin to live backwards.  We are allowing the past to set our attitude and agenda for our life.  True forgiveness is not totally forgetting the past but it is simply letting go of the past and not letting it control our present.

I remember a series of counseling sessions with a man who had a very hurtful and nasty divorce. The betrayal and hurt was overwhelming.  I asked him, “Have you really forgiven your ex-wife?”  He said, “Yes I have.” Then I said, “Then why do you bring her up with anger nearly every conversation we have?”  I knew he hadn’t forgiven, not only because he couldn’t stop bashing her, but because he had become an angry man.

Left unattended, the root of unforgiveness go deep and causes us to live in both the past and the future.  We live in the past because we are angry and we just can’t get past the anger.  The anger touches all of our relationships.  When the roots of anger spread out it also causes us to live in the future. When we live in the future we become fearful.  Living in the past causes anger and living in the future causes fear.  So the person filled with anger lives in the past and the future, vacillating between anger and fear.  Real peace is only found in living in the present, trusting God for today and living in the now.  We are only at peace when we leave the past in forgiveness and put the future in God hands.

You do have a choice.  You can choose to hold onto the past and live looking backward or you can chose with an act of your will to forgive. You may be saying, “I just can’t let go.”  That’s correct. You can’t forgive on your own. Forgiveness is a supernatural act.  Forgiveness becomes a supernatural act when you surrender your helplessness and inability to God. Your part is to repent and with an act of your will, by faith, forgive. Then allow the Holy Spirit to do His supernatural work in you to complete the transaction.  God will never ask you to do anything that He will not enable you to do.  Will you take that step of faith and stop living life looking backward?