I feel overwhelmed with guilt as a Christian? Even though I accepted Christ years ago, sometimes I wonder if I am saved and forgiven because I still struggle with sin? Sadie

Dear Sadie, It is not unusual for Christians to feel guilty because of sin in their lives, and to have problems dealing with that guilt and sin. We think that once we have become Christians, we will no longer have a struggle with sin, and that through Christ we will have power to overcome it. Actually, Paul talks about his struggle with sin in Romans 7:18,19: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”

You are forgiven but, still have the sin nature: When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we experienced the wonderful cleansing power of His blood, which was shed on the cross for us over 2,000 years ago. We had an overwhelming feeling of freedom and release from the bondage of sin and death when we first repented from our old lives and turned to Christ. Then, the following dilemma began to occur as the weeks and months went by – we found ourselves tempted to return to sinful patterns of thinking and acting. It became difficult to accept that we would still continue to sin because we are children of the King: righteous, new creations in Christ, called to be holy as He is holy.

But the truth is, we are still sinners and will always battle with sin in our lives because we are inwardly bent towards sin. That is the reason God says in His Word that we need to confess our sins and rely on His promise to cleanse us:

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ –and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).

“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).

Scriptural Truths about the Christian life:
As Christians we will still sin.
Though we are commanded not to sin, there is forgiveness when we do through Jesus Christ.
When we sin, there is a way to restore fellowship with God:
Confess that sin to God and to others.
Repent from the sin, asking God to change the direction of our lives.
Pray for each other; ask someone to pray for us.
Trust that God’s promises are true even when our feelings contradict scripture-
God has forgiven us and He no longer condemns us.

Who we still are
Sometimes pride keeps us from admitting our sin or keeps us from forgiving ourselves when we sin as Christians. When this happens we need to tell ourselves the truth about who we still are… sinners saved by grace. Don’t let pride keep you from enjoying your relationship with God and don’t believe that you are now above the need for God’s ongoing grace in your life.

You can begin living in God’s grace and accept His ongoing, unconditional forgiveness for the sins you still battle, or the memory of past sin in your life. Realize that as a Christian, you still need to recognize and confess sin in your life. You can have grace for yourself based on God’s grace and forgiveness for you when He paid the penalty for all your sins once and for all through His Son’s death on the cross 2,000 years ago.

Bask in the forgiveness of Christ!
You are no longer condemned. You are forgiven! You are His child. You can make a new start every time you sin… just sincerely confess it and ask God to change you from the inside out. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If you have repeatedly fallen into the same sin such as pornography, lying, unforgiveness, substance abuse, gossiping, etc., then go to your pastor, a mentor or a Christian counselor and ask for their guidance, prayer, and instruction on how to begin to flee the temptation to sin, to be accountable and to make amends for your sin.

Memorize the following Scriptures so that you can begin relying on God’s Word and the assurance of forgiveness He offers you in Christ, rather than the self-condemnation you may be thinking and feeling.

“And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy,” Hebrews 10:10-14.

“In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:7

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12

Remember that God’s love “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). We don’t know our hearts very well, but God knows us and His forgiveness is complete and eternal because Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for our sins and “not for our sins only, but the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2

© copyright 2016 Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC

Order: What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Phillip Yancey and
The Healing Power of Forgiveness by Dr. Ray Pritchard