I screwed up again.
I made a mistake that I knew was a mistake, but I did it anyways.
I knew I would regret it, and that’s probably the most frustrating part for me – it was a conscious decision.
As I sat at my desk that next morning, lost in my thoughts and self-loathing, I asked God to break me.
I wanted to feel the brokenness of my sin because up until that point, it had never really been that bad; just a little slip up here and there.
But I knew differently.
I had become painfully aware of my own weakness and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to maintain this resolve for long.
I knew it was just a matter of time until it would happen again.
So I asked God to break me; to break me to the point of hating this sin because I knew that I would never turn from a sin that I didn’t hate, no matter how much discipline and devotion I put into practice.
God reminded me of a sermon by Judah Smith that morning titled Jesus Is Loving Barabbas. As I listened to it, I realized the difference between confessing a sin and confessing my sinfulness.
To own, admit, and confess our sinfulness brings us to a place of utter humility and dependence on the grace of God, while admitting a sin is simply owning up to our one, wrong action among many.
Yes, my actions were wrong, but that wasn’t even the first time that I had made that particular mistake.
It was becoming a pattern.
It was searing my conscience (1 Timothy 4:2) and becoming a part of my ‘nature.’
It legitimately scared me to tears.
My weakness became so real to me in that moment; my flaws and my shortcomings so evident that I felt crushed and defeated.
I was broken.
So I confessed.
I confessed the entirety of my flaws; of my sinfulness from birth.
I begged for forgiveness, but even more, I begged for a renewed spirit and a changed heart.
As David laments in Psalm 51, ‘wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.’
What joy there is in knowing that our past sins have been washed away by the grace of God, leaving us whiter than snow. But honestly, this recent mistake didn’t scare me as much as the projection of past mistakes onto my future.
My track record was now forecasting future patterns, and that was terrifying.
And that’s when I realized it.
I realized that I am absolutely no match against the powers of hell; no match against the urges of sin.
The answers that I sought and the strength that I needed to resist could not be found within myself; within my own discipline, devotion, or boundaries, but only through God.
It is ONLY through the power and redeeming love of Christ that we have any chance against the powers of sin and darkness.
It was the love of Christ that set Barabbas free. Not the people. Not his own goodness or reputation. Not even the authority of Pontius Pilate.
It was only by the love of Christ who took the chains from this man that he knew would never return to him.
But he still loved him.
He loved him enough to die for him.
He still tells us, ‘give me your shame,’ even when we find ourselves lost to our own fleshly desires and urges again and again.
As the tears ran down my face, I asked God – ‘What if I do it again, Father? What if I mess up again? I’ve already done this once before, so what’s to say that anything will be different this time?’
‘I’ll still be here,’ He says.
He’ll still be there, because His love is whole.
It is realized in its entirety through the Gospel.
It is wholly and entirely perfect and everlasting.
It is poured out into our hearts not through our own doing; not because of our own discipline, devotion, or good behavior, but only through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Please realize this – whatever sin you’re finding yourself in right now, whatever chains and shackles you’re wearing, you cannot shake yourself free.
You will never be able to free yourself from the urges and temptations of sin.
It doesn’t require more resolve on your part. More discipline, greater devotion, or better boundaries are nothing compared to the powers of sin and evil.
It is ONLY through the Holy Spirit that our hearts are changed; that our desires are convicted and our thoughts are turned to the holy and precious love of Christ; a love that ‘compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again’ (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Yes, I am entirely flawed.
But I am wholly loved by God as well, and that is what saves me.