Last week we looked at how to deal with temptation. As sinful and corrupt creatures we will always struggle with sin this side of heaven. And although, as followers of Christ, we are being sanctified by God, we will continue to rebel against His will and violate His commands.
I would like to briefly review the process a Christian goes through when he or she sins. It’s important to distinguish that this is for regenerate believers in Christ. A person who is not born again will find no help here because he or she is still dead in their sins and needs to be born again before they can take part in the process of sanctification.
In His wisdom and love, God created us with a conscience that troubles us when we sin. The Holy Spirit shines the light of truth on our sin and exposes it for what it is and calls and helps us move towards repentance.
Many times this conviction comes through the reading of Scripture, or hearing the Word preached. It may also come during our personal times of prayer. There are also many times when brothers and sisters in Christ lovingly ask us about the sin they see in our lives.
The problem is that we often try to avoid conviction because we don’t want to experience the guilt and shame that comes with it. But avoidance does even more damage to our soul. We must submit to the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that we can move forward in the process.
When we experience conviction we must confess our sins. Confession is agreeing with God about our sinful acts and motives and telling the truth about what we have done. We must name our sin to Jesus and to anyone else we have sinned against.
A true act of confession does not include excuses, it does not try make light of what we have done, and it does not try to place the blame for our sin on anyone or anything else. There must be confession before there can be…
At the center of the act of repentance is changing our minds about who is in charge of our lives. It is turning from false gods and placing ourselves at the feet of the true and living God of the Bible, the only one worthy of our worship.
The reason so many of us struggle with the same sins again and again in our lives is because we experience false repentance such as…
- Mere Confession – Agreeing that I am guilty and feeling bad about it, but having no desire to live a Spirit transformed life.
- Worldly Sorrow – Carrying guilt and shame for my sin, but never embracing the love and forgiveness of Christ. My sin and my shame over it become the center of my attention rather than Jesus.
- Self-Righteous Repentance – Repenting of “acceptable” sins while masking the true filth in my heart. I may also deflect conviction over these sins by comparing myself to others.
- Religious Repentance – Berating and punishing myself for sin. Seeking to try in some way to, “make it up to God.” Religious repentance is a futile attempt to try and earn God’s love and favor.
True repentance only happens when there has been a change of values in our hearts. True repentance only occurs when we desire to honor God more than we desire to sin.
Restitution is the fruit of repentance. When we sin we not only sin against God, but against others as well. Part of being a Christ follower is making restitution to others for the damage we have done to their lives as a result of our sin. If we have truly repented of our sin, our desire will be to make things right with those we have sinned against.
Once all the previous steps have been taken, damaged relationships can now be restored. This is something only God can do. It is amazing how He heals broken hearts and restores people to one another, but this can only take place once true repentance and restitution have taken place.
Even if it does not occur on earth because of the extensive damage that has been done, we can rest assured that if the people involved are Christ followers, it will occur in heaven when we are all completely free from the both the power and the presence of sin in our lives.