In Romans 7 Paul talks about the battle that wages within us between our old sinful nature and our new life in the Spirit. It’s the age-old battle. We want to do what is right but often we don’t.
Romans 7:21-22 NLT
I have discovered this principle in life, that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.
Under normal circumstances, we most often can make the best decisions, but in times of pressure, when our external circumstances are pushing in on us, our old sinful nature pops out.
Instantly we are ashamed. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden when their spiritual eyes were opened and their sinful nature was exposed. And what did Adam and Eve do? They hid. Not much has changed since the garden. When we slip and our sinful nature pops out we often feel a heavy weight of guilt and shame. So, we too pull away and we hide… we hide from other people and from God.
Shame often tempts us to isolate ourselves. We pull away from community because deep down we believe that if people really knew what we were like if they really knew what a mess we are inside, then they would reject us. It’s so sad. The people who are around us in community are often the ones who can help us most, but we must be courageous enough, to be honest about our mess and ask for help.
I’m so grateful to God for the community of women he has placed around me who pray over me, speak truth to me and lean in close when I’m struggling. The church is called to be a supportive, loving, life transforming community of people who we can lean on when we need it most.
Shame will also make us pull away from God. We stop doing devotions, we stop praying, we lay low and hope we stop feeling guilty eventually. We bury our dysfunction or pick up old habits to numb the pain until we are ready to make it right with God. We come back gravelling… begging for forgiveness we feel we don’t deserve and asking God to give us another chance. This is a total misunderstanding of the concept of grace.
Grace is what brought us near to God and grace is the force that still calls to us to come close even when we’ve done something wrong. Listen, your mistake doesn’t change how God feels about you. He loves you.
Whenever we are tempted to pull away from God, it’s always an issue of understanding and receiving grace. He would never want you to pull away, he always beckons to us to come near. I shared this as a full-length audio message at my home church. You can listen to the audio message here.
How do we break the cycle?
We must learn to run to Jesus. The sooner we learn to run to him in our dysfunction and allow him access to the deepest most painful things in our lives, the sooner he can lead us to freedom.
James 4:6-7 NLT
He gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favours the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
If you are having a struggle with sin and you’ve been caught in this never-ending cycle of shame and hiding, the greatest lie you’ll ever believe is that you’ll never be free. Jesus won the victory and continues to give you grace, not as a license to sin, but as the power to live free from the grip of sin.
Brenda Drost is a Pastor and Speaker who is known for her warm smile and passionate preaching style. Whether she is teaching at her home church or out on the road, she loves to bring challenging messages that actually help people live out their faith in the real world. She and her husband live on their farm in the beautiful Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada where they have raised their four children. Find out more about Brenda here.