Breaking Bad: How do we break reoccurring sin?
Our first step towards breaking old sinful habits is to understand that as “born again believers” we are no longer prisoners to the old covenant teachings of sin and death. As born again believers, we are no longer in the position of “not being forgiven”, as was the case for God’s elect from the days of the old testament. The author of Hebrews 10 explains that before Christ (or re-birth), the Law was merely a “rude outline that never made us perfect”. Year after year token sacrifices were required and since it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away those sins, man was led into a state of perpetual guilt and shame for his sins, never fully forgiven.
“For since the Law has merely a rude outline (foreshadowing) of the good things to come—instead of fully expressing those things—it can never by offering the same sacrifices continually year after year make perfect those who approach [its altars].” Hebrews 4 further states; 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
But if we take a closer look, we can see that Christ came with a better and new covenant of true forgiveness, grace and mercy, “fulfilling the law” that no “fallen man” could ever achieve, and taking away all our sin, once and for all that the blood of bulls and goats could not achieve.
The beginning of this chapter Hebrews 10 basically explains how God never really wanted these sacrifices and was waiting for the one true sacrifice to fulfill the law. (6 In burnt offerings and sin offerings You have taken no delight.) But once Christ came, we were forgiven, consecrated, and sanctified: “10 And in accordance with this will [of God], we have been made holy (consecrated and sanctified) through the offering made once for all of the body of Jesus Christ (the Anointed One).”
Please don’t miss the significance of those words. A sacrifice was made “Once for ALL”. The ENTIRE body of Christ has been made holy, through ONE perfect sacrifice, Jesus Christ. We are no longer part of the family of “unforgiven sinners”, and we no longer need to allow the torment of our past sins haunt us with guilt and shame.
Oh how thousands of years of man’s fallen thinking can deceive us and make it so difficult for us to really accept and believe this truth! I’m certain that one of the greatest methods the enemy uses to separate us from God, is through getting us to believe we have not been forgiven! If you have repented for sins past, yet still feel guilt and/or shame from those sins, then I assure you you are a victim of the tireless work of the enemy who is trying to keep us deceived in the darkness of “unforgiveness”.
Think about it, if the enemy is successful at keeping us from believing in the giant biblical truth that you and I have been forgiven once and for all, then He keeps our focus on our sin and in doing so, not only does he divert our focus FROM God TO Sin, but by remembering our sin again and again, we allow him to keep us in bondage to that very sin because sin itself becomes our greatest focus, often even leading us back again and again to repeat the same sins. You have to admit, it’s a very cunning tactic to get believers off track. I believe millions of believers have been deceived along the way.
Think of it this way; If someone mentioned to you over and over all day long, that it’s unhealthy to think about chocolate, and that you should NOT think about chocolate under any circumstances, what do you suppose you would be thinking about all day?? You would be thinking about chocolate and you’d probably really want something chocolate to eat by the end of that day right? It would be impossible to stop thinking about chocolate since you were being reminded all day and it would be almost impossible to resist eating chocolate at that point right? So do you see how the enemy can use this tactic to keep us “sin conscious” instead of staying focused on the eternal and the heavenly things above? If all we do is think about our past sin, and spend all day thinking about how not to sin, then we just open the door to do nothing but think of and practice the very thing(s) that separates us from God, that being sin itself. Can you see the cycle it causes?
I’m also certain that once you and I believe/understand we are fully forgiven, I mean really believe this and stop looking back, then we somehow step away from the torment of the “sin consciousness” which was the covenant of the old testament. If we really get the fullness of what Christ did, and we turn our full attention back to God (true repentance), the we automatically start to walk in greater holiness, and we continue being transformed daily, from glory to glory by His grace, and not by thinking about sin. He alone is the author of our salvation, and He alone is the author of our freedom. Our focus should always be on Him.
As believers, once we see ourselves as God sees us, we begin to understand what scripture means in; “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In Hebrews 16, The Lord says: “I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), 17 He then goes on to say, “And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.”
So if the Lord doesn’t remember our sins, don’t you think we should stop giving them (and the enemy) power over us by looking back on our past sins? When we allow ourselves to stay “sin conscious”, in a sense we are saying what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough to fully forgive us, and in saying this, we allow ourselves to get “pounded again and again” by the same old sins weighing on our conscience, and stopping us from living in the fullness of freedom. Make sense?
Did you know that scripture gives us a long list of things that can not separate us from the love of God, but one thing is not on that list are “things past”. Go ahead, read the scripture you won’t find it! Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If I were the enemy and I knew this, then I would do everything in my power to lie and trick the world into thinking no one is ever really, truly forgiven, because that lie alone would keep millions of believers from growing closer to God
It actually seems obvious to me now, how this can be true for so many Christians. If I look at my own journey and how for so many years I let the “sins of my” past torment me by never really believing I was forgiven, I can see that without a doubt such a belief kept me from growing closer to God. I was so sin conscious, that I literally felt ashamed at the thought of getting closer to God. (Sound familiar, maybe like Adam in the garden after sinning?) Staying away from God was almost a form of “false humility” for me thinking I could somehow make myself better before coming to His presence!
At the time, I was so guilt ridden from sin, I felt I had to somehow clean myself up before coming to God. The truth is, I never really felt clean enough to want to get closer to God when I was in the state of believing that my past still mattered to God so I never did grow closer to God as a result. If that statement makes sense to you, then you need to fully understand the purpose of what I’m writing here so you too can move past your old sin.
I’m sad to say that the enemy was successful for many years, at keeping me from believing just how much God loved me and how much He desired fellowship with me, despite my flaws. Somehow when we focus on our past sin, or even on our imperfect nature, our thinking becomes so twisted that we forget that God was “the One who found a way to save me while I was yet still a sinner”!
Do you see how if the enemy gets us to focus more on sin or on ourselves more than on God, we somehow twist the truth about what God really says and what He really wants from us? Can you understand how if Satan get’s us thinking in this way, our past sins can keep us from growing closer to God, which is the very thing that changes us to be more like Him…spending more time with Him is exactly how His grace changes us. Do you see if we keep waiting until we are more perfect to get close to God, then we literally allow our sin to separate us from God? God longs for us to turn to Him and ask Him to help us with our sin because He loves us that much. We are His delight, and His children and He really wants us to come to Him for help, not hide from Him in shame. He is so full of love, not judgment. Jesus paid the price for our judgment, so we get to enter into the Holy of Holies and humbly ask God to help us change. His love covers our sin. Don’t let the enemy tell you otherwise.
I think there is a very valid reason why “our past sins” are not on that list of things that can not keep us from the love of God, precisely because if we don’t believe we have been forgiven of our past sins, those sins haunt us and in more than one way, separate us from God. Did you get that? Hanging onto our past sins which we have already repented for, can in fact make us hide in shame and shame can keep us from drawing closer to God. Hanging onto past sin actually separates us from God and it’s exactly what Jesus died to remove for us. What was once true of past sins within the old covenant (Isaiah 59:2 NKJV 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. ) is no longer true because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
I am totally convinced that once saved, we keep ourselves in bondage when we don’t believe that God sees us as “fully forgiven” through His Son’s sacrifice, and we allow the enemy use our habitual and past sins, to keep us in continual bondage. Somehow, by allowing the enemy to bring before us our old previously repented sinful habits, somehow by getting us to question whether we are truly forgiven, we keep ourselves in bondage repeating the very sin of our past.
Somehow, our “sin focus” gives head to our sins, and denies the more holy fruits of our forgiveness through Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice. Somehow, we think more about how we failed God through our sin rather than the amazing gift of grace and salvation that allows God to see us past our sin to cover us with His love. Somehow, we become so “sin conscious”, that we become hopeless and we are drawn back to the very thing we hate, and we completely forget we have already been forgiven, and we completely forget how much God delights in us, and we completely forget to focus on the heavenly things above (Col 3:2), and most important, we completely forget we MUST turn TO God not away from God when we sin, knowing He wants to help us change and not condemn us.
Otherwise, we are left feeling like we are in an endless “rut” never to escape habitual sin. Somehow when we don’t believe the truth of God’s forgiveness, we elude the power of what Christ did on the cross for us. Somehow, by being so sin conscious, we sell our salvation cheap, and we throw away the most important part about the truth of scripture which says “And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more.” (Heb 10:17)
Jesus paid the highest price possible for each of us, so why should we sell out the truth of what He did for us, so cheap and give the enemy such power over our lives?? Hopefully what I’ve written will help shed some light on the lies of the enemy and break some chains!
In case we ever miss the significance and the magnitude of the price paid for us, Hebrews 18 – 19 says; “18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus,
Listen to the sternness of the language here; “Now where there is ABSOLUTE REMISSION of these sins and lawbreaking” which means, “Not just occasional forgiveness, not just weak remission, not just partial forgiveness, but TOTAL remission, TOTAL cancellation, and TOTAL forgiveness of ALL sin!“
….. and then it states there is “NO LONGER any offering needed” which means “no more, none, not any, never again, no necessito, and ALL sacrifices” are FOREVER finished and never needed again because we are fully forgiven forever because of the great depth of His love for us! Amen to Jesus!
And here is the most powerful part of understanding all this……if you and I truly believe this and stand on its truth and draw near to Him, I guarantee you and I will walk in greater purity by His love and grace.
The depth of His love demands it, not through disdain, but by mercy His blood covers us through such amazing love……understanding this is crucial to our freedom from habitual sin;
verse 19 (my paraphrasing) “Therefore (it’s settled), since we have FULL FREEDOM (not partial, not occasional, not conditional but FULL freedom) and Confidence (not weak belief, not haphazard feelings, not false humility that says “I’ll always be just a sinner”), we can have FULL Confidence….. to do what? To just walk down the street in full confidence? Heck NO!….. We have full freedom and full confidence to enter into the Holy of Holies.”
The Holy of Holies……Did you catch that? You and I, once sinners, now have the full freedom and confidence to enter the Holy of Holies, because we have been redeemed by blood of Jesus on the mercy seat!! Are you getting the power we have been given here as born again believers??? This is huge- Don’t miss your inheritance! You and I can enter the Holy of Holies, not by our might or by our works, but by the power and virtue in the shed blood of Jesus because His one-time sacrifice was so pure, it took away ALL our sin and makes us righteous in God’s sight, forever!!! That statement alone contains so much of the power of the gospel!
Friends’ removing habitual sin from our life is a process achieved not by our might, but through a love partnership and a deeper fellowship with our Father in heaven, with our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the Person of the Holy Spirit. When we truly understand our complete forgiveness, when we see ourselves as God sees us, we can then begin to draw nearer to Him and we literally begin to walk in more purity and we enter into the righteousness of Christ, by His grace, freely given to us by His amazing sacrifice. When we come to Him in repentance, and thank Him for giving us a way to the Father into the “Holy of Holies”, His grace and His love starts to transform us from the old, and we step into the heavenly new creation we have become in Him. Isn’t that what we all long for deep inside? Isn’t that the true message of Grace and Love of the New Testament?
When we shake off the lie of the enemy that says we are still just sinners of this world, even after we have been “born again” into His Kingdom, when we stop believing that we are sinners destined to a life of guilt and shame from our past, and instead when we begin to rightfully believe who God’s tells us we are as “His children clothed in the robe of righteousness”, then we start to have the supernatural power needed to defeat today’s sin in our life.
When we understand who we are in Christ, and see the high price that was paid for us by the blood of Jesus, then we automatically begin following the voice of the Shepherd who loves us and not the voice of the enemy whispering tales of our sin past, trying to tempt us into a life of continued sin. If we simply fill ourselves with truth and things above, there is little room left for us to entertain the lies or hear the voice of the tempter, and soon we no longer give any attention to the voice of the enemy. When we encounter the true love of God, it’s not focusing on sin that changes us, but “the goodness of God that leads a man’s heart to repent”. In fact, it is only the love of God that can cause us to walk in the fullness of life abundant today, as the Righteous Sons and Daughters of the Kingdom that God intended for each of us! Amen! That is our destiny, and we should never sell our glorious destiny for the cost of a cheap lie from the enemy.
Understanding who we are in Christ Jesus, is the first and perhaps the greatest step that allows us to tap into the power to repent, turn from our old ways, put down the old, and put on the new forever defeating habitual sin! Ephesians 4:23-24 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
May the truth set us free!