Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7 KJV)
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalms 51:10 KJV)
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21 NASB)
Do you sometimes get discouraged because you’ve been struggling with sin, and it seems as though there’s no end to moral failure in sight? If so, you’re not alone. Sin is a problem for all of us. In fact, as long as we live in a sinful world we will be tempted to do things God doesn’t want us to do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t choose the right path and overcome temptation. By the way, just because you’re tempted to sin that doesn’t mean you’re guilty of sinning. You can’t be guilty of sin unless you act on what temptation entices you to do (see James 1:14-15). We always have a choice. It’s a matter of exercising our minds to be more thoughtful of what we’re facing rather than acting on mere impulse.
I believe that if a person thinks more about sin than they do about Jesus they are more likely to give in to temptation. So, it’s a matter of fostering right-thinking. For example, if someone is discouraged when he ought to be encouraged or angry when he ought to be at peace, he’s clearly not thinking straight. It’s a distortion of what a person perceives to be their purpose in life that usually lends to such thinking. Our purpose in life isn’t to think about how bad we are, but to experience how good God is. If we aren’t doing that, then we aren’t living life to the fullest.
There’s no doubt that God can deliver us from sin. But before that can happen we must be willing to let Him take control of our thoughts, so that we may be steered away from temptation. The power to overcome sin is available to all of us. But it won’t be manifested in us unless we look to Jesus as the answer to our problems, and abide in Him. He will set us free from the chains that bind us to evil influences if we ask Him to (see John 8:36; Philippians 2:12-13).
No matter how far you think you’ve fallen from measuring up to God’s expectations, don’t lose heart. The Lord will complete the good work He has begun in you, if you don’t give up on Him during the process (see Philippians 1:6). And if you fall into sin, then repent and get back up again. Whatever you do, don’t let Satan weigh you down with guilt, but exercise faith in God’s ability to deliver you from your sins. The enemy can have no more control over your life than what you give him; Satan can push you down, but he can’t keep Jesus from lifting you up.
By the way, while it’s true that God hates sin, that doesn’t mean He hates you. God loves you, and is far more merciful than you may realize (see Ezekiel 18:20-32). He reads our hearts like an open book when others only see what’s on the surface of our lives (see 1 Samuel 16:7). Therefore, don’t think that God feels the same way about you as He does about the sin you’re struggling to overcome; rather, focus your attention on Jesus, looking to Him as the answer to your problems, and you will be on your way to experiencing victory in Christ (see James 1:12).