If you’re perfect, raise your hand.
I’d be willing to bet that none of you are raising your hands right now.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of you are listing all the things that keep you from being perfect. There’s a voice in your head reminding you of every mistake, every failure, every wrong turn. It’s a voice you hear quite often, maybe even every day. Let me assure you: you aren’t the only one this voice speaks to.
As I’ve stated a number of times already in this series, we have an adversary: Satan. He lives and works in total opposition to God. Where God creates, Satan destroys. Where God brings light, Satan seeks to bring darkness. When God brings us back to life, Satan tries to keep us from being fully alive.
Through a constant whispering in our ears, Satan uses his voice to remind us of who we used to be. The voice speaks through many channels–society, the people of influence in our lives (family, friends, teachers, etc), our own hearts–but the message is always the same: You haven’t changed. You’re still the same person. Look what you just did! How can you be a Christian and still be doing that?
Quickly the joy of being made alive again begins to drown in despair as we realize our own weakness and imperfection. The Bible calls us to perfection and holiness because of God’s perfection and holiness. Satan delights in showing us just how far we are from achieving it. He points out sin after sin, heaping up shame and cackling with delight as we collapse under the weight of it. Despair begins to rule and we cry out with Paul, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” (Romans 7:24, NLT)
Fortunately that question has an answer. His name is Jesus. And He is our hope.
Jesus died on the cross as the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins. He did what we couldn’t do. And it worked. The cross = mission accomplished! If you have placed your faith in Jesus, you stand forgiven in this moment, no matter what you did last night or this morning or five minutes ago. You ARE forgiven. You were forgiven in the moment you first asked Jesus to save you from sin. And each time you have sinned since then, all you’ve had to do was go back to Him so He could remind you that you are forgiven. And that holds true for every time you will sin in the future.
We don’t have to despair because we have Jesus.
But we also have the Holy Spirit.
God gives the Holy Spirit to every believer (Ephesians 1:13) and the Holy Spirit gives us victory in the battle against sin: You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world (1 John 4:4, NLT). The battle will be long and hard and you will often feel exhausted, but you already have the victory! There is HOPE: I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13, NLT). And with that hope, that assured confidence in your status before God, you can overcome the despair.
What does that look like practically?
It looks like remembering the Gospel every day: because Jesus died, you are forgiven.
It looks like confessing your sin: bring it into the light so the Spirit can help you deal with it.
It looks like choosing to believe the truth: though you feel broken and dirty, God sees you as clean and whole.
There will be a new heaven and a new earth where we no longer have to fight sin, but in the meantime, you are already new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Choose to live in the truth of that, to be the new person God created you to be. And when you sin, don’t despair. You are already forgiven. Let that build in you a hope that leads to victory over your sin.