Encouragement: The Battle Against Persistent Sin

To be honest with you, this post was originally supposed to be about something different. I don’t really want to write about persistent sin at all. I don’t want to talk about the areas of my life where I fail miserably. I don’t want to reveal my struggles. I don’t want to tear down the façade of having things [sort of] together.

But until we decide that our witness is more important than being safe and comfortable, we forfeit the possibility of God using our hardest moments for His glory and the redemption of our brothers and sisters.

So, in light of that, believe me when I say that out of all the people in my life who are the most frustrating and hard to live with, I am probably at the very top of the list. I mean it. I drive myself absolutely crazy with the back and forth of good and bad, right and wrong, and light and dark. I deeply identify with Paul when he lamented, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19, ESV)

And I’m writing this right now because I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I know I’m not the only believer who longs to be like Christ in every single aspect of life and self but has moments where they fall flat on their face in the puddle – well, ocean, really – of sin and depravity.

It feels terrible when you lash out at someone and feel your heart fall at the evidence of a crushed spirit in their expression. It feels terrible when you spend the money you set aside for tithing on a pair of shoes that you don’t need. It feels terrible when you clear the browser history and burst into tears of shame and anger and disgust at your inability to just quit.

I get it, everyone. I understand how it feels to struggle with something over and over and over and over and over, when you would give as much as the blood in your veins if it meant you could finally, finally overcome the things you so desperately want to be free of.

The irony is that Someone already beat you to it.

The frustration and guilt that we battle with in the area of persistent sin and recurring struggles in our relationship with the Lord come from a deeper frustration with our own inadequacy. We try to save ourselves, but we can’t. We want to forgive ourselves, but we can’t. And we often can’t make sense of the fact that the perfect Creator of this entire universe is willing to look on our ugliness and offer us His beautiful grace instead of the condemnation we constantly cling to.

As if condemnation – all the shame and self-hatred and humiliation – can offer us a better chance at redemption than the love, forgiveness, patience, persistence, and power of Almighty God.

Grace is the only hope we have. Cling to it. Trust in it. Realize that it frees you from the toughest strongholds in your life.

My friend, Daniel, put it this way: “God [knows] forgiveness comes before repentance, and He forgave us, opening the door for man to have peace with God. There would be no reconciliation between God and man if it weren’t for His forgiveness.”

How true this is. How profound that Christ doesn’t expect us to have it all together, permanently, before He reconciles us to Himself. I’m learning the hard but glorious way that if we can just take hold of this reality when the Enemy tries to persuade us that we’ll never experience freedom and choose to rely on His desire and ability to change us, change will indeed come to us. I’m seeing it in my own life and I pray you will see it in yours.

Keep fighting, friends.

“And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12, ESV)