So you’ve committed a sexual sin, again. And sinned again. And again. For the one-millionth time. Again. Of course you stopped counting long ago (okay, let’s be honest, no one counts—and how big is a googolplex really?) and you’re disgusted with yourself. What should you do?
First, confess it to God (I realize that for many some of this will seem rather basic). “Confess” in the New Testament means to call it the same thing that God calls it: sin. It’s wasn’t a mistake, it wasn’t “just one of those things,” or “I couldn’t help myself—nobody can,” or the other person’s fault, or God’s fault (“Why did He make that person so attractive anyway!”), or whatever. It was a sin. Call it that before God. Confess to Him that you sinned.
Second, ask God to forgive you. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus’ death on the cross didn’t just pay for the first sin you ever committed: it paid for the last you’ll ever commit, too. This is justice for those who trust in Him.
Third, accept God’s forgiveness. Consider 2 Peter 1:5-9:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
Pay close attention to this passage. It tells us to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love to our faith. It tells us that if we have these things then we will live fruitful lives. But then it says something amazing. It says, if you lack these things—the things just mentioned—it isn’t because you haven’t tried hard enough but because you have failed to understand the forgiveness that you have in Jesus. In other words, constantly beating yourself up over past sins actually prevents you from experiencing these wonderful things. Therefore, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by telling yourself how scummy you are. In fact, that hurts you. Accept God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ blood cleanses no matter how often you feel dirty.
Fourth, figure out what tempted you to commit the sin you committed. This is contrary to the Homer Simpsonian “yeah, but whaterya gonna do.” Sin doesn’t happen by accident (for the most part, anyway). There are usually things we did to get us in that situation. Examine what little sins, what little leavens, encouraged you to commit more and more sin until you really blew it.
Fifth, make practical decisions not to get into the situations that tempted you to commit sin in the first place. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the lazy idea of “There’s nothing I can do, God will have to do it.” You can take steps to not sin. We call this repentance. For example, if you can’t seem to keep your hands off of your boyfriend or girlfriend, then stop giving yourself the opportunity! Here’s one simple help: don’t allow yourselves to be “alone, alone” with that person. I mean by that, don’t go to his house or her’s when no one else is going to be there. If others can see you then that will help you keep your hands where they belong. Or, if a particular TV series stumbles you—for crying out loud—stop watching it!
In my next blog I’ll talk about another helpful step.
Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”