Shame. Guilt. Fear. Judgment. Condemnation. Punishment. Isolation.
For thousands of years these have been the prescription for and the expected result of sin. They have been codified in legal systems, embedded culturally in societies, and preached from pulpits the world over. They have transcended dogma and tradition, reaching from the major world religions all the way down to the local congregations of the smallest cults. They have defined the experience of not just the worst of criminals, but also the most common of folk, just living out their lives and attempting to reconcile themselves with the shadows of their pasts.
The fact is, sin is a common story, perhaps the most common story. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t sinned. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have baggage. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been damaged by something that has happened to them. I don’t know anyone who isn’t carrying the memory of a hurt, a negative situation, a bad choice, or more.
And yet, although sin is a universal experience, it still manages to isolate the sinner.
That ends today.
It’s time to boldly declare grace.
Although the enemy would like you to believe that you are alone and isolated in your problems, that somehow your issues are unique and shameful, that what you have experienced is unspeakable and particular only to you, that you deserve whatever is coming your way — the judgement, the condemnation, the failure, the defeat — being cut out of the herd and left to fend for yourself or die; although this is the story that people have been telling for thousands of years about faults, mistakes, abuses, hurts, dysfunctions, and losses — it’s time to stand in the presence of God and boldly declare an end to the lies.
Your sins are not what make you special.
Your sins are not what make you unique.
Your sins are not what define you.
You don’t have to hold onto them any more.
Now, it’s a biological fact that a key aspect of your survival is the ability to remember the things that harm you so that you can avoid them in the future. God is not suggesting that you forget and so become vulnerable to the same problems a second time. On the contrary, God is offering grace as a way to redefine what your sins mean to you.
Consider this — sin is not just a compilation of the mistakes you’ve made or the actions you wish you could undo — sin is the sum total of every experience that created distance between you and God.
Maybe you were abused, teased, bullied, or worse.
Maybe you failed or were defeated in some way that has stuck with you.
Maybe you made poor choices or fell prey to wrong mindsets.
Maybe you have struggled with addictions or been obsessed with things that stole your joy and sucked you into destructive situations and relationships.
Maybe you have been plagued with disease and pain.
Maybe you lost someone close to you and have never recovered.
Sin is not just about what you choose and what you do. It is every bit just as much about what has happened to you and what you have experienced.
Disease. Death. Loss. Damage. Harm.
Whenever you have found yourself the victim and felt far away from life, goodness, blessing, and joy it is every bit as much a sin as when you chose to be the perpetrator of some wrong behavior or harmful action.
“Now hold on a second there Steve! You are saying that the victim sinned? Come on now, that’s not fair. Are you damning people for having evil done to them? I don’t get it.”
It is essential to receiving grace to understand that the definition of sin is simply being apart from God. So yes, ask any victim of theft, or rape, or abuse, or addiction, or any other sin and they will tell you that it is most definitely an experience of a separation from God.
It is time to rethink sin. Take it beyond the simple legal definition of right and wrong, just and unjust — and open your mind to accept that sin is inclusive of everything that pushes you away from God, holds you out of the experience of God’s presence, causes you to question God’s love for you, raises doubts about God’s existence or care for your life. Sin is anything that disconnects you from God instead of connecting you, anything that pushes you away from the peace and joy of God’s presence, anything that stands in the way of receiving God’s blessings and receiving them abundantly.
And the answer to sin is grace — boldly declaring grace over your sins and starting a new life by the power of God.
It’s time to rethink sin because sin is just as, if not more, effective against you when it happens to you as when you perpetrate it on others. Sin sticks to you and leaves a scar and a memory whether you asked for it or not, whether you chose it or not, whether you were seeking it out or were blindsided by it in the dark of night. The enemy is an opportunist, looking for any crack, any flaw, any weakness, any chance to introduce you to failure, defeat, hate, hurt, and harm.
In the original Hebrew, the most common name for the enemy, “Satan”, literally means “the accuser”.
In the eyes of the enemy, the purpose of sin is to provide an opportunity for accusation. And the purpose of accusation is to wage war. And the purpose of waging war is to acquire territory. And in the spiritual struggle between good and evil, you are the contested battlefield. The enemy wants to own you and its time to boldly declare that you are not for the taking because sin does not define you, God does.
Now, the traditional view of sin is that at the point of sin, the enemy does own you — you become a “sinner” who is defined by their sin and then the conversation falls quickly into what to do about all the “sinners” and from there digresses quickly into the enemy’s territory, where it becomes more important to identify, accuse, and condemn the sinner than to demonstrate grace and achieve salvation.
The problem with the traditional view of sin is that it actually empowers the enemy and supports the lies that they would have you believe.
It is time to rethink sin, because too many people are being enslaved by sin simply because their religious beliefs are keeping them there.
That’s right, good and faithful people enslaved by a misunderstanding of the gospel, held down under the oppressive weight of the sins they have experienced because they don’t know the way out.
It’s a sad truth that even Christian churches often do not preach the actual gospel of salvation with great regularity, if at all. Grace gets lost — replaced with some kind of hope or wish or desire for salvation someday that makes no concrete change today and leaves the faithful in guilt, shame, worry, and the silent isolation of despair and defeat.
It’s time to rethink sin, because while it is far more universal than most would like to admit, it simply isn’t as impressive or imposing as the enemy would like you to believe. And I can tell you that no matter how big your sins are, God is bigger. No matter how much of your life experience is pulling you down and holding you back from walking in God’s presence, God is reaching for you more powerfully than the enemy can withstand. No matter how far you think you are from God, God is present with you right here, right now.
Sin literally cannot achieve its purpose. You cannot be separated from God. God is everywhere.
However, there is one thing that sin can achieve, and that is convincing you to ignore, deny, and refuse God.
The power of a lie is not that it may be true, but that you may believe it.
Your experience of sin does not define you and cannot hold you back from experiencing everything that God has in store for you unless you choose to believe the lie.
It’s time to rethink sin because it’s time for you to acknowledge what has happened to you, both the choices you have made and the experiences you have had. It’s time to receive the memory for what it is, a survival instinct and a foundation for future success, and then boldly declare the grace and presence of God over your current situation, and receive the new life that He is offering you today.
God doesn’t hold your sins against you.
God is not afraid of your sins.
God does not condemn you for your sins.
God welcomes you into His house, into His arms, into His family and makes you His own and says,
“Come now, let’s settle this. Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” – Isaiah 1
This is not because God is ignorant or blind or somehow doesn’t understand. God has perfect vision, perfect perception, perfect insight, perfect judgment, complete understanding.
God gets it. God gets you. And, more importantly, God wants you.
There is nothing that can actually come between you and God. The enemy wants you to believe that because they can separate you from God momentarily, that this separation, this sin, is supposed to have some kind of lasting effect.
Shame. Guilt. Fear. Judgment. Condemnation. Punishment. Isolation.
All supposedly the effects of sin. And they would be too, if not for grace.
Just because the enemy can divert your attention, cause you harm, or entice you into destructive behaviors and situations doesn’t mean that you are beyond the reach of God.
It’s time to boldly declare grace over your life, over your problems, over your relationships, over your business, over your health, over your career, over your family, over your past.
Declare grace and boldly step into the presence of your savior realizing that you don’t need to earn His love, you don’t need to deserve His goodness, you don’t need to prove your worth or demonstrate your value because He designed you, He knows you, He has seen you and He understands you, and He is passionately and persistently offering to wrap you up in His grace, shower you with His blessings, and take you places you’ve never even dreamed of if you will simply say, “Yes!”
Pray with me now,
“Lord Jesus, I remember what I wish I could forget, I know what I have failed to acknowledge, I accept that sin has kept me down and pushed me out of your presence, kept me from receiving your blessings, and stood as an obstacle between me and you. I have given it power and believed the lies, I have allowed sin to define me, and that stops today. I am choosing right here, right now to boldly declare your grace over my life. To stand on your goodness and declare your promises for me. Today I make you my savior and my God. Today I say yes to your goodness, yes to your peace, yes to the joy of your presence, yes to the abundance of blessings that you have planned for me, yes to the divine health that you are offering, yes to the success and the victory that you have in store. I will not be defined by my sins anymore. I release their power to persuade me. I let go of their power to direct me. I deny them, and I choose you. The enemy does not own me anymore because I’m yours. Your message is my message. Your life is my life. Your way is my way. Your answers are my answers. Your strength is my strength. Your grace is my grace. Sin has no power over me anymore and I boldly declare that sin will never again stand between me and you because sin is temporary but life with you is eternal.”