• Laurel Appel

Stop Talking About My Sin!

Updated: Feb 19



"Stop talking about my sin!" Have you ever just wanted to shout that out? Do you ever get tired of being reminded about how much you fail? Have you struggled with guilt and shame over your past, or your present, for that matter? Do you just want to know you are loved and accepted?


I recently read a blog post titled, “Why I Stopped Going to Church,” and my heart was just broken. The author, Jeron, shared his struggle with being made to feel like he wasn’t good enough to be a Christian.


“The Pastor’s words would sting, but not because I had done anything wrong in particular, but because it felt like there was nothing I had done right. I wasn’t being a good enough Christian on Earth, and I also wasn’t being a good enough Christian to make it into heaven. At a point, I no longer felt welcomed in my church.” [1]


His pastor, no doubt, was doing the exact opposite of what he wanted to do. He drove Jeron away from Jesus, rather than drawing him toward Him.


Sin is bad...duh.


Do you ever feel like Jeron does? Do you feel like you are not living up to what being a Christian is all about? In sermon after sermon we are told all the things we do wrong, and the solution we are usually given is to try harder, work better, obey more, pick yourself back up by your Boot Straps, and don’t give up. These lessons are all about our sin and how our sin affects our lives. Sin is bad.


We who are in Christ, get the fact that sin is bad, don’t we?

I, too, have experienced these teachings recently at churches I have attended. If I didn’t know any better, I would have left defeated, feeling dirty, and hopeless to conquer my sin, because the reality is… that ain’t happening. Like my new year’s resolutions, that initiative to “do better” blows away faster than a toupee in a hurricane.


I have found myself thinking…


Stop talking about my sin! I know I’m a sinner.
Didn't Jesus take care of my sin on the cross?

And, sadly, many of those lessons don’t talk about the awesome freedom that Christ afforded us by His death and resurrection. And, in fact, they never even mention the Holy Spirit who should be the focus when talking about walking in the newness of Christ.


Please understand, I’m not saying all pastors or teachers fail in this way. However, churches are losing people, like Jeron, who are leaving discouraged and hopeless, looking for answers elsewhere. I believe Christianity needs to get back to promoting the truth about sin rather than trying to fix it. That is God’s job.


My friends, if we are in Christ, we don’t need to be reminded that we are tempted to sin and that we fail.


The problem is twofold: first, the focus is on our sin, and second, the answers or solutions of trying harder never really help.

They don't help because these lessons have missed one very important aspect of the gospel: the fact that Jesus gives us everything we need to move past trying to conquer our sin in our own strength.


The Typical Answer


The usual answers to the sin issue focus on recognizing the problem, trying harder, getting an accountability partner, and picking yourself back up when you fail. Where is Jesus in that gospel? This is what we call the B.S. Gospel; the pull yourself up by your Boot Straps Gospel. This is the gospel that preaches striving to be good, failing at it, and feeling shameful, which drives us to strive even more, or to give up altogether. This becomes a life-long cycle that distracts us from doing the good stuff God wants us to do.


This is not the gospel, or good news, of the Bible. The true Gospel of Grace teaches that Jesus took care of the sin issue and gave us the answer of how to do so much more than trying not to sin.


What’s the Answer Then?


The answer to this problem is to start talking about what Jesus did.


  • He conquered our sin. Jesus died not only to forgive our debt because of sin, but to conquer sin itself. He took sin’s power away by fulfilling the law through His death (Rom 6:10–11, 14).

  • He made us new. We are remade by Him and are not bound by all the old stuff any more (2 Cor 5:17).

  • His resurrection makes us alive in Him! Our spirits are renewed and made righteous (Rom 10:10)

  • He gave us the Holy Spirit. We now have the power and help of God living in us (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim 1:14).

  • He gave us the ability to love others, which is what He always intended for us (Col 3:14)


The Duality of Our New Nature


Once we are in Christ, we have two parts of us that are against each other. We have a new, clean, righteous spirit, while our sinful flesh remains, and they are separate within us. We have a dual nature. It is our new spirit that communicates with the Holy Spirit.


For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish (Gal 5:17). [2]


Why is it important we understand the separation of our flesh and spirit? Because, first, it is confusing otherwise. We read that we are a new creation, but we still fail. We are made holy, but we are still sinful. This is confusing if you think these characteristics apply to you as a single whole. This way of thinking tells us that our identity is that of a sinner, a failure, and not good enough because the flesh gets all the attention.


But, if we separate the two, this explains how these seemingly opposite truths can be true at the same time. The new you (your new spirit) is righteous and a new creation, the old you (your flesh) does fail and is sinful and always will be. This explains the spiritual fruit of self-control. We can choose which part of us we allow to be in control.


And second, this is the key to understanding our new lives in Christ and how Jesus has overcome our sins so that we can live in the freedom, peace, and love that He died for. Our identity is now that of an accepted, loved, valuable, new creation that is righteous and free to live life with purpose far above conquering our sin.


Flesh: Old Man (or woman)


The Bible describes our sinful nature, or flesh, as our old man. There is nothing good in our flesh, it is weak and grows more corrupt over time, it doesn’t do anything good for us, and we shouldn’t put our trust in it at all (John 6:63, Rom 7:18, Eph 4:20–22, Phil 3:3).


So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom 8:8).


This old man died with Christ on the cross (Gal 5:24).


For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin (Rom 6:5).


Jesus conquered our sin for us. We are no longer under sin’s control. We no longer need to be under the control of our flesh. Understanding this is the first step toward living free and hopeful lives.


Spirit: New Man (or woman)


We need to understand that God remade us into something new. We now live in the likeness of His resurrection! (see Rom 6:5 above) We are transformed, given a new heart, and we are made righteous in our spirit because Jesus gives us His righteousness. We are given the Holy Spirit to live in us, produce good things in us, and empower us to choose to walk in Him rather than our flesh. (Eze 36:26–27, Acts 1:8, Rom 12:2, 2 Cor 5:17, Gal 5:22–23, Eph 4:23–24, Phil 3:8–9).


… you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you (Rom 8:9).


Whose Shoes Do You Choose?


This new freedom allows us to make the choice as to whether we walk in our old flesh, or in our new spirit. Otherwise Paul would not have said the following.


For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Gal 5:13).


Rather than using our freedom for our flesh, we can choose to use our freedom for God’s purposes. The Bible tells us that we are to put off our old man and put on our new man. That means this is not only a choice, but it is possible (Gal 3:27, Col 3:8–10, 12–14). And when we put on, or submit to, Christ and His Spirit, our flesh doesn’t have any opportunity to be in control.


But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom 13:14).


I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16).


If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25).


Walking in the Spirit is a choice and it is possible to do because Jesus gave us everything we need to do just that. It is a learning process, for sure. And like learning to walk as an infant, it will take time and practice. But just knowing that it is possible and that the Holy Spirit empowers us to do so, is the first step in that walk.


Peter explains that those baby steps start with faith, and then add to that faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Peter goes on to say that "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" and he also says that he who lacks these things has "forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins" (2 Pet 1:5-9). Let us not forget!


Christ died so we would not have to focus on our sin. He rose up to life so that we could now live our lives in the spirit and focus on loving God and loving others.

Knowing that we have a duality about us keeps us from being discouraged about our failures. Yes, our flesh stinks and fails us all the time. But that doesn’t mean we are worthless or not good enough. It means our flesh is not good enough, but that’s why Jesus came. He came to make us good enough, in our spirit. He makes us righteous, beautiful, new, and clean. So, we can think about ourselves as being two separate natures; the part of us that is eternal and makes us who we are, and our earthly sinful flesh. Then, we can forgive ourselves for our mistakes, (because Jesus did) and move forward. We don’t need to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, but allow Jesus to pick us up and His Spirit to wash over us, rid us of our shame, and empower us, as we take that next step, to allow His fruit to flow from us as we choose to walk in Him.


"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus"~Paul the Apostle (Phil 3:13–14).



[1] Jeron. (2017, October 17). Why I Stopped Going to Church [blog post]. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@IamBigJay/why-i-stopped-going-to-church-72e996367409


[2] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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