"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.” 
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 Bootstraps, 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 because of my sin. The reality is… being "more Christlike" in my flesh ain’t happening. The more I focus on my sin, the more it is in my mind and tempting me to give in to it. I just end up feeling depressed.
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 that we have been born again and have been given the Holy Spirit, which 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 typically placed on our sin and old fleshly self. And second, the answer that we should try harder can’t be done in the flesh. We can’t make our flesh better no matter how hard we try.
The Duality of Our New Nature
Have you ever wondered how you can be called a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and be tempted by sin at the same time? (Heb 4:15) That’s because once we are in Christ, we are born again. We have our old sinful nature still, but we are born into a new spiritual nature. We were born in the flesh at our first birth and born in the spirit at our second birth by the Holy Spirit when we put our faith in the righteousness of Jesus for our own. These two parts of us are against each other. We have a new, clean, righteous spirit, that communes with the Holy Spirit that lives in us. Our sinful flesh remains until we shed it on our way to eternity.
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). 
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 is 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. Think of it as “flesh-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 person 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).
We cannot fix our flesh. Trying not to sin is a futile endeavor. However, we can start doing something else because 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.
What can we start doing? We can start walking in our new spirit nature.
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 or woman and put on our new man or woman. 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 that 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.
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 work on our sin 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.
So, let’s stop talking about sin and start talking about what it is to love God and love others. That’s what walking in the Spirit is all about. Walking in love is what creates life, eternal value, reconciliation, peace, and joy. God’s grace makes it possible.
Copyright © 2022 Appel Creations Publishing
 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
 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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