When Our Sin Leaves Us Hopeless
I’ve gone through a downward spiral at times in relation to my sin. I’ll be spending time in the Bible each morning, praying often and feeling alive in fellowship with God. But then something will happen. I’ll sin in a way that I feel is too ugly to come before God with, as if God sees my sin on some sort of a hierarchy. Ashamed, I’ll yet again pull away from God, either intentionally or unintentionally. On my own, I’ll then try to clean myself up from my sin and fail. With each failure, I become more and more hopeless and increasingly blind to the promises of Jesus.
Our enemy wants so badly to pounce on us and drive a wedge between us and God
In moments of hopelessness like these, we are frighteningly vulnerable to Satan’s lies. Satan is not one to take it easy on us when we’re hurting but jumps at the opportunity to try to take advantage of us. Peter warns us of this, saying:
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” - 1 Peter 5:8
When we try to push God away out of fear and hopelessness, our enemy wants so badly to pounce on us and drive a wedge between us and God. In my own experience, Satan has tried to attack my understanding of the promises of God to make me feel unworthy of coming to God. For example, in John 8, Jesus says:
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” - John 8:34-36
Now, I have read this verse when I have felt confident in my righteousness through Jesus, and I have read it in times of desperate need of encouragement. When I read this verse in confidence, it is an anthem of salvation. But when I’ve come across this verse in times of weakness and desperation, I’ve felt nothing but frustration and fear. This fear is expressed in the way I think: Maybe I was set free by Jesus at one point, but I do not feel free in this moment. I feel enslaved by my sin now more than ever! Amid our vulnerability, Satan is prowling. It can be far too easy for him to make us question our understanding of Jesus’s promises, and fear that maybe Jesus’s grace doesn’t extend far enough to reach us.
God is so, so good. He promises not to treat us how we deserve to be treated for our sins.
But the truth of Jesus’s promise in John 8 is that he sets us free from the punishment and burden that our sin used to bear on us, because he took it on himself. The freedom that Jesus promises is not conditioned on our ability to be perfect. Being set free from the slavery of our sin means that despite our sin (past, present and future), God’s love for his children is endless (Romans 8:38-39).
Psalm 103 can further help us understand just how endless the love of God truly is.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” - Psalm 103:10-12
God is so, so good. He promises not to treat us how we deserve to be treated for our sins. Often, when we find ourselves trapped in hopelessness, we are looking at our sin from a human perspective, which is based on our experiences. We understand things perfectly fine from our human perspective when the punishment fits the crime. But when the punishment for our own sin gets completely washed away, not just once, but daily, that’s when things get harder to grasp.
Struggling to understand God’s grace, I’ve thought many times before: Surely, I’ll have to pay for these sins. I’ve crossed the line this time… this sin is too much.
To that fear, God says no, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God’s power to remove and forgive sin is endless and impossible to put a ceiling on. There is no limit, there is no line, there is no end to God’s gracious love for us.
On top of God’s inconceivable grace, he also sent us the Holy Spirit to train us up in righteousness. Jesus said:
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” - John 14:26
Though the thought of fighting our deepest sin on a day to day basis can feel impossibly daunting, we can rejoice in the knowledge that we are not expected to do this on our own strength. The Holy Spirit is our live-in Advocate, trainer and teacher. He lives in us with the purpose advancing of our personal fellowship with God the Father.
When it comes down to it, the hopelessness we feel because of our sin is just a fear of being rejected by Christ. We are not rejected because of our sin, but instead we are freed from the burden we once carried. We are free from the punishment of sin and made alive in his grace. Accept the freedom that has been won for us by Jesus Christ amid our sin. Now, empowered by the Holy Spirit living in you, run, without fear of rejection, back to the cross.
Evan joined the Student Ministry Team in the summer of 2018.
He moved into this role after completing the school year as a Middle School Science Teacher in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor's degree in secondary education from Penn State.
Evan and his wife, Halle, currently live in Ingomar. They both enjoy getting outside and the occasional Netflix marathon.