We all make mistakes. We all sin. This isn’t easy to admit, especially when faced with the fairly pervasive culture of perfectionism within the Church. When we sin, we inch closer towards the adversary and, if we do not act, can forfeit our agency and become enslaved by the enemy of us all. How can we claim our sins and give them to Jesus Christ, finding liberation, peace, and joy?
These four ideas can be hard to internalize and act upon, but they’re a great place to start.
Admit What You’ve Done
When you sin, Satan wants you to hide it. If we hide what we’ve done, we don’t have to feel so much shame. We hide our sins from others and even from ourselves. But just as ignoring an illness will only make it grow worse, refusing to admit we have sinned can quickly lead to spiritual death.
It’s important to admit what you’ve done to yourself, to God, and if necessary to your ecclesiastical leaders. When we refuse to think about things and push them from our minds, those thoughts can actually grow stronger. We may feel temporary relief by ignoring our sins, but the consequences will come and so will the pain. When we can freely admit our sins, we are not bound by them. They are bound by us, held in our hands and ready to be presented to Christ.
Recognize You Can’t Change The Past
If Satan cannot get us to ignore our sins and think what we have done does not matter, he tries to make us feel so horrible about ourselves we are paralyzed with shame and fear. Have you spent hours ruminating on the past? Do you play what you’ve done over and over in your head?
Recognize you cannot change the past. Once something is done, it is done. So much energy is wasted in psychological anguish over something we no longer have any power over. When you feel yourself beginning to downward spiral thinking about your past sins, stop yourself and ask, “Can I take back what I’ve done? Can I change what I did?”
Believe You Can Change the Future
The beautiful thing about those questions is it leads to others that are more empowering. No, you can’t take back what you’ve done. But you can change what you do next. “What can I change?” “How can I repent?” “What does God want me to do?”
When you take control of your agency, you claim back so much power from Satan. When you feel empowered, you can act in a way that invites the light of Jesus Christ into your life.
Accept Christ’s Forgiveness
Jesus Christ is the heart of all change and forgiveness. So many of us refuse to accept we can be forgiven. As you ask for forgiveness of your sins, also thank Christ. Pray and live with the expectation of forgiveness. It is a promise from God and something you can hold onto. Do not dismiss it.
To learn more about repentance and overcoming sin, click here.