Anyone who has been following Christ for any length of time knows the subtle temptations of sin. Before you realize it, you have allowed yourself to be pulled deep into disobedience.
Much like Satan himself, sin can pounce on you when you least expect it. One such moment is when you recognize you are in sin and need to repent.
Perhaps you would assume that in this of all times, you would be safe. You have just come to grips with your sin, so surely you are not in danger of falling into temptation again.
But even in the way we respond to sin, it can cunningly tempt us to merely replace one sin with another.
Instead of turning to Christ in true repentance, we can turn to ourselves and never truly address the problem. Here are three wrong ways we can respond to sin.
1. Self-assurance: I have this under control.
Humans have the ability to recognize their failures and then in the blink of an eye dismiss those some failings as insignificant.
“Yes, it was wrong,” we tell ourselves, “but that was just a momentary slip up … and besides it wasn’t really my fault.”
Even in dealing with our sin, we are capable of deluding ourselves into not needing to actually deal with our sin.
The only assurance you can have about yourself is that you can be assured you will fall again if you attempt to defeat sin on your own.
2. Self-pity: I hate myself for doing this.
Godly repentance brings life, but self-pity only brings loathing. It never actually deals with the sin.
Wallowing in the sin and moaning about how wretched you are is not repentance. It’s not the gospel.
Recognizing your sinfulness is a step, but it quickly moves to repentance and into an embrace of Christ and His grace and forgiveness.
Pitying yourself can take away from your exalting Christ. If that is the case, you are still in sin. And perhaps worse than before because you may not even recognize your situation.
3. Self-confidence: I will never do this again.
We should continually be maturing and some sins that previously were huge temptations for us could (and should) lessen, but guarantees of this type usually fall short.
Those promises underestimate the draw of sin and overestimate our personal ability to resist. Confidence in our flesh is usually what got us in sin in the first place.
Think back to before you sinned. More than likely, you were just as confident then that you would not fall. Our confidence cannot be in ourselves.
We must place our confidence in the One who has already defeated sin in our place and offers us His strength to live in His victory.
So what is the right way to respond to sin?
Instead of either of the three ways focused on self, our response to sin must be focused on the Triune God.
We respond rightly to sin when we are:
Christ focused — looking to Him as our example and resting in Him as our Savior
Holy Spirit reliant — seeking to allow the Spirit to work in and through us
God glorifying — desiring the glory of the Father above our own
If we turn inward in trying to deal with sin we will only make matters worse. Sin can only be uprooted from our lives when we look upwards and stop using self-focused means.