You’ve done it again. You promised yourself you wouldn’t. You told your spouse you were over it. You swore to your kids it was the last time. You looked into the eyes of your concerned parent and said never again.
But here you are.
You thought things were going to be different. You were going to be stronger. You were going to overcome. You were starting fresh.
Then it came—the familiar temptation.
Maybe it was subtle—the idea that you could handle one glass of wine or visit just one disturbing website. All you needed was one tiny pill to get by or one embrace from your lover.
But before you know it, you’re tangled up in sin again and the Enemy pounces. His words are cruel and cutting:
“Don’t you see? You’ll never be free,” he says. “You’ll always be bound to this. What makes you think anybody could forgive you? You’ve disappointed God. You let Him down. You had your chance and you blew it.”
You fear there’s too much truth to his words. Can God really forgive you again? Aren’t you just another lost cause? A failure He’s tired of putting up with?
If these questions are tormenting you, consider this verse from Psalm 145:8, “The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
The Secret that Weighs on You
Maybe your sin isn’t the habitual type. Maybe you committed one sin long ago that still haunts you to this day. It’s the one thing you’ve never told anyone—that day you visited the abortion clinic, the moment of the inappropriate IM chat, or the time you skimmed money off the top at work or school.
When you think about it, you still feel the familiar rush of shame and despair. You worry what God sees when He looks at you now. You imagine He shakes his head in disgust or throws up His hands in frustration.
Consider the questions that Micah, the prophet, asked about God: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” (Micah 7:18)
One of God’s wonderful attributes is His mercy. In Psalm 103:10, David proclaims: “He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
You Are More Than Your Choices
Hours after her mother’s funeral, Dana was on a flight to return to her home in Chicago. She got into a fight with two of her seatmates on the trip and became angry. Eventually, she started screaming at the other passengers and flight attendants came to de-escalate the situation.
A nearby witness had recorded the whole incident on their smart phone and uploaded it to the internet. By that evening, Dana had become infamous as “the angry lady on the airplane”.
Suddenly, there were dozens of negative reviews of her employer’s business on their Facebook page. Local news stations were calling for interviews and many of her colleagues and friends distanced themselves from her.
But Dana had a kind friend who came over her and sat with her. Dana was ashamed and confessed it to her friend. “I can’t believe this is who I am—the bitter, screaming woman on the eleven o’clock news.”
Her friend said, “Dana, you are more than your choices. Your identity doesn’t stem from what you do but from who God says you are.”
Maybe you can relate to Dana’s story. You’ve never had a meltdown on an airplane. But you’ve done something you regret and you’re left wondering if what you do will define you for the rest of your life.
How Do You See Yourself?
When it comes to our identity most of us define ourselves in terms of what we do. For example, you see yourself as a writer, a dancer, or a house painter because these are activities that you perform.
Often, we carry these identities with us into our interactions with others. Perhaps on meeting someone new you introduce yourself with a word like “Doctor” or “Lawyer” or “Bank Teller”.
Defining ourselves as what we do might seem harmless. After all, if you do good things then you’re a good person, right? But the moment you slip up – you’ve lost that identity. You’re no longer the “sweet, godly Sunday school teacher”, now you’re that woman who lost it on the airplane while your seatmates are interviewed on Good Morning America.
So, if your identity rests on what you do, what happens when you’re not “good” anymore? If who you are is what you do, then you might use other words to describe yourself.
Words like “failure”, “ugly”, “loser”, “worthless”, “unlovable”, or “useless” taunt you. Suddenly starting a new day is a chore. You slink through work and school, hoping to get by under the radar. You’re angry one moment and despairing the next.
But in all of this, there’s one vital truth you’re missing out on – how God sees you. Maybe you cringe to think about it. You worry that when God looks at you, He sees the same things you do.
Oh, but that’s not God’s heart toward you at all, dear one. You see, your Heavenly Father defines you not by what you do. But Who you belong to and if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, then the question of your identity has been forever settled:
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” (Roman 8:14-15, NLT)
You are no longer what you do—you are what God has done! That means, a whole new identity applies to you. Now you are accepted (Romans 15:7), beloved (1 John 3:1-2), redeemed (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and forgiven (1 John 1:9).
God’s Mercies Are New
Grant had committed a sin when he was younger. He’d done his best to make amends for the situation and had ask for God’s forgiveness. But he never quite felt like it was enough.
So Grant spent the next three decades of his life, trying to earn a good standing with God. He wanted to show his Heavenly Father that he was worthy of forgiveness and mercy. He went on mission trips, volunteered at local charities, attended church regularly, and taught Sunday school. He was a devoted husband and father.
Still, he worried that he wasn’t doing “enough” to impress God. He constantly feared someone would “find him out” and that God would be disappointed and disgusted with him.
One day, a friend asked to meet for lunch. The two men went to their favorite grille, which was deserted in the afternoons. Paul, Grant’s friend, said, “I had to meet with you because I’ve been praying for you. God impressed on me that there was sin previously in your life.”
Grant felt perspiration roll down his back. He shifted in his chair, prepared to be kicked out of his church and community. “I won’t deny it,” He admitted. “I have done some horrible things that I’m ashamed of.”
“When I asked God what sin you had committed,” Paul continued. “He told me He did not remember.”
To Isaiah the prophet, God declared, “"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)
In Psalm 103:12, David shares that God removes our sins from us completely. He says this about God’s forgiveness, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
This is not like mere human forgetfulness or some form of dementia. When God speaks of forgetting, He means He doesn’t think on our sin again after we have confessed and sought repentance.
God’s nature is so merciful and so loving toward you that He views each new day as a wonderful opportunity to show you compassion and grace again.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Even if you weren’t your best self yesterday, even if you went back to the same old sin, even if you knew better and you still found yourself on that website, having that drink, or taking those pills, God forgives you. He extends His mercies to you again today.
You Are Not Forsaken
If God’s mercies are new each day, why do you still feel like such a failure? If God has so much compassion, then how come you still cringe when you look in the mirror? If you are God’s child, why is it so hard to believe that He loves you?
There’s an accuser out there—Satan. He lives to condemn, shame, and terrify you. He can’t change the wonderful identity that God gave you when you accepted Christ as your Savior. He can never, ever alter the fact that you are a child of God. Oh, but he longs to keep you from living out this identity.
Imagine it like this: you take Bill Gates’ beloved child. You convince this child that he or she is worthless, a failure and a fraud, completely unlovable. Pretty soon, that kid begins living out the words you’ve spoken over him or her.
Now, you didn’t change the identity of the child. You didn’t have that kind of power. But you did work hard to change the child’s perception of who they were. That’s the same thing that Satan is working overtime to do to you.
Your identity is secure—for now and for all eternity. When you hear the voice of condemnation, know this: that is not the voice of your loving Father.
In Romans 8:1, the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Later on, in the chapter, Paul expands on these thoughts, saying,
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)
Jesus doesn’t just forgive us—He actively prays for us. Think about that for a moment. Right now, while you’re reading these very words, Jesus is standing in the throne room of God, praying over you.
He’s asking God to give you the strength and the grace to overcome your trials. He’s praying that you feel the depth of His love and the comfort of His presence!
You Have Value & A Purpose
Despite your failure, sin, or addiction, God still values you. He still has a purpose for your life. Some of the people who God used in amazing ways really messed up at times.
Consider the life and times of David, King of the nation Israel. This man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:1-14) didn’t always get it right. He took a woman who was not his (2 Samuel 11:2-5), overlooked the rape of his own daughter (2 Samuel 13:1-22), and killed a man (2 Samuel 11:14-15). Not exactly credentials you want to put on your resumé.
Yet for all David’s failings, God did not give up on him. He still used the warrior king to accomplish His purpose.
Like David, you are mistakes and flaws don’t mean that God can’t use you. If anything, your failures only enhance God’s glory. They are further proof of the goodness of God, even in the middle of our human frailties.
No wonder David proclaimed, “The LORD will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8, NLT)
In fact, God’s plans for your life are numerous as David mentions in Psalm 40:5, “Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.”
These aren’t just ordinary plans, either. These are plans for your good and God’s glory. The same words that God proclaimed over the nation of Israel, He still speaks over you today: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)Despite what you may have done yesterday, how you may have messed up today, and even what you do tomorrow, you cannot alter God’s beautiful plan for your life. His purpose will be accomplished in and through you because you are His beloved child.