You Are Not Your Sin

“I’m a horrible person.”

“I’m supposed to be a Christian– why did I say that?”

“This sin is too much and it’s too hard. I can’t give this up. It’s part of me.”

How many times have you allowed thoughts like that to slip into your mind? Your heart? How many times have you told yourself you’re beyond help?

We’re sinful human beings. Even though we try, we often still make mistakes and fail. It’s easy to hide behind your failure and say things like that– whether it’s only in our head or aloud. 

But today I’d like to echo an important truth to you. A truth that came to me through a fiction book.

The Book

I’ve been reading a lot of books by one particular author recently. See, I was looking for historical fiction recommendations because it’s a genre I’m curious about writing, and the best way to start working on that is reading it.

Someone recommended a couple of trilogies by Roseanna M. White: Shadows Over England and The Codebreakers.

I really liked the books.

If I had to describe the genre, it’d be Christian historical fiction romance. Usually, there’s not just a struggle between the two characters’ relationship, but also a struggle with faith and God. The first book in the Shadows Over England series, A Name Unknown, might be my favorite of all of them. And that might be partly because Peter Holstein, one of the main characters, is a writer.

Set just before World War I in England, Peter Holstein, with a German last name and family, has to prove that he’s loyal to England before it’s too late. Rosemary Gresham arrives one day, undercover as a librarian, and is quickly hired by Peter to help clean up his library and find some documents to prove his loyalty. Rosemary, however, is really a thief hired to find evidence against Peter. Though, knowing the genre I just stated, of course something else happens instead.

This book was really well written, and if you read it, you can see the sharp contrast between Peter and Rosemary. Peter is a writer, and that’s partly because he has trouble speaking and finds it easier to express himself on paper. He usually speaks little and slowly, and when he’s uncomfortable or nervous he’ll stammer. Rosemary, however, arrives, and after just a few minutes on the job Peter asks if she always talks so much, which makes for some entertaining interactions.

This book, though fiction, did have some important truths in it. At the end of the book, when Peter has proposed to Rosemary, an important exchange goes on between them. Rosemary thinks, in a way, that she isn’t worthy of Peter’s love.

How can you? How can you want me, knowing what I am?

Rosemary Gresham, A Name Unknown

This question cuts deep. She not only refers to herself as ‘what’, but she also doubts Peter and wonders how he could love her.

But Peter responds: 

That’s not… not who you are. It’s just… something you did.

Peter Holstein, A Name Unknown

Peter’s words, though few, are huge. He points out that the sin Rosemary committed isn’t who she is. He separates the person from their past. 

That’s what I’d like to talk about today.

You Are Not Your Sin

Just because you have bad habits and make mistakes doesn’t mean that sin owns you or has power over you. It doesn’t mean that you’re beyond help or that Jesus doesn’t love you too. 

In fact, the Bible speaks specifically on this topic. 

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:17-18

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:4-7

Christ has set us free from sin and death. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of God, made in His image, and have the gift of grace through Jesus. 

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

You are not your sin. You are not stuck. You are not worthless. 

If you believe in Jesus and what He has done for you:

You are free.

You are a child of God.

You are saved.

That is the identity we should be taking on. No matter how many times we fail, we are not our sin, because of Jesus.

Should We Stay In Sin?

Just because we are free from sin doesn’t mean we should say, “Oh, you know what, since Jesus has saved me I can basically do whatever I want!”

See, there’s a balance between following the law and doing good works and being justified by Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Jesus has saved us. We can never do enough works or keep enough rules to be saved on our own.

However, this doesn’t mean we go and be crazy. In fact, quite the opposite. Because Jesus has saved us, we are born again Christians. We should be trying to do better and be better because of what Jesus has done for us.

But we’re going to fail. We’re going to mess up. And that’s okay, because we have our Savior to fall back on and be encouraged to try again.

I’d recommend reading the book of Galatians for more on this topic. Yes, the whole book, but it’s only six chapters. I could give you a bunch of single verse scripture quotations, but I think it’s better that you just read it for yourself. You can find chapter one online here, and you should be able to find the rest of the chapters on that same site, Bible Gateway.

Loving Others

I think it’s important that we learn from the character Peter in A Name Unknown. He separated Rosemary from her past sins and mistakes, and we should too when conversing with others. Love the person, not their sin. 

When loving a person, you don’t have to approve of what they’re doing. You just have to be there and love them for who they are, not what their sin is.

This can be challenging, especially if the person believes their sin is part of themselves, or even denies that it’s a sin altogether. But who did Jesus reach out to?

The sinners.

The tired.

The broken.

And when He died for us, He freed us from that sin so that we can be righteous, redeemed, and healed.

Shouldn’t we show that to others, no matter what their sin is?

Remember, you are not your sin, and they aren’t their sin either.

I know that this is hard to implement, especially when some of us are still unable to go many places or converse with many people. I also know that I can probably do better in this aspect as well. But that’s another great part of Christianity: the body of Christ. Not only do we have Jesus to fall back on, but also Christian friends and family to support and encourage us as well.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading today’s article! If you’d like to hear more from me and get notified when I post an article, please consider subscribing to my email list. You can unsubscribe at any time. I hope you enjoyed, and I’ll see you next time.

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Have a blessed day, 

~Caroline

Easter 2021: Reflections On God’s Love

What do you think of when Easter comes around?

The world has ways of celebrating it with Easter bunnies, egg hunts, and chocolate.

And though chocolate is good, that’s not the point of Easter. 

The point of Easter is celebration, thanksgiving, and praise to God for Jesus.

John 3:16, one of my favorite verses and essentially the Gospel in a nutshell, says:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In this article I’d like to focus on that word ‘loved’ and help remind you of what Easter really means.

God First Loved Us

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10

From the very beginning, we have been choosing other things over God. We have always been this way– thinking we know best and taking matters into our own hands.

And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and the people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.

John 3:19

We chose the darkness. Sometimes, we still choose the darkness.

But God… He first loved us. He first chose us.

God’s Love Was Planned

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6

Hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, prophets spoke of Him. They prophesied everything from where He would be born to what He would do. 

God knew we would fail. He knew we wouldn’t ever be able to be enough on our own. He knew we would make mistakes again and again. 

That’s also why He sent the ultimate sacrifice.

God Sent His Son

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person– though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:7-8

We’re a mess.

We choose darkness over light.

We choose sin over righteousness. 

We choose earthly desires over God.

And yet, God loved us so, so much He sent His son to die for us. And though we still make mistakes and still choose those things over God sometimes, He still loves us and the hope we have still stands.

Jesus’s death shouldn’t be taken for granted either, nor should the things he went through before His death.

Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples, mocked, beaten, accused of sins He never committed, sentenced to death, had nails driven into His hands and feet, hung on a cross, and died. 

He knew this had to happen, but that didn’t make it any easier. While He was praying before his arrest, Luke says:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:44

He knew what was coming, and though it would be hard, He said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

He didn’t run or fight back or return to heaven, rather, He knew what God’s will was and went silently to fulfill it.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

God’s Love Will Never Let You Go

Our lives can change in an instant.

Our lives can end in an instant.

But we have an amazing, imperishable, everlasting, great hope.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

That love God showed us when He sent Jesus to die for us will never leave us. Even if we lose everything– God is still there, and He loves you.

This Easter

This Easter, remember how God showed His love for you. Remember what Jesus did. And don’t just dismiss it– pray, praise, and reflect. This holiday and event in history is one of the most important parts of our faith. It’s why we don’t have to worry about being perfect. It’s why we’re okay to stumble. It’s why we have this confidence in life.

Because we know, no matter what, Jesus has saved us. 

Since, therefore, we have been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:9-11

Let us rejoice this Easter.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading this article! I hope it was encouraging or helped you in some way. Let me know if there’s any way I can serve you as we near Easter Sunday; even though we have Jesus as our hope, life can still be hard. If you need a prayer or words of encouragement, don’t hesitate to email me at live2thelord@gmail.com or through the Contact page on this blog.

Have a blessed day and wonderful Easter,

~Caroline

P.S. Here’s A Song

Here’s a song I’ve been listening to recently that especially fits this Easter article:

Thank You Jesus for the Cross – Life Worship

Fruit of the Spirit (Pt. 1): Love

Hello, friend! Welcome to my blog. I hope you’re doing well. Today we are beginning a new series on the blog called the Fruit of the Spirit! In each post, we’ll talk about one or two of the fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 and have a challenge to apply them during the week! To start it off, we are discussing love.

I’d also like to note here there are so many more aspects of love that I can only scrape the surface in this article. However, I hope this article still gives you a general understanding of what godly love really looks like.

Why Love Should Be First

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (bold added)

I like Paul’s placement of ‘love’ here. It’s right in the front, as it should be. Love is probably the most important fruit to have. Why is love the most important? Because Jesus said it himself!

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:37-40

All of the law comes after these two commandments, and they both include love. Loving God and then loving others will help us live the rest of the law as well. For example, God tells us not to steal. If we love someone, are we going to steal from them? I hope not.

Often people, both Christians and non-Christians, can agree that we should love others, but Christian love is different than worldly love. Natasha Crain points this out in chapter 10 of her book, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus:

Christians strive to love others given God’s standards. The secular world strives to love others given self-defined standards.

Natasha Crain, Talking With Your Kids About Jesus

What are God’s standards? We’ll talk about that next.

The Standard For Love

Jesus speaks about love in Luke 6:27-36, read those verses by clicking here and then come back to this article. 

Here are a few things Jesus said about the people you should love:

  1. They’re enemies
  2. They hate you
  3. They abuse you
  4. They strike you
  5. They take away from you

This is a very high request, but such a good one. In the rest of the passage, Jesus talks about how it’s more beneficial to love those who hurt you. If you love someone who’s nice to you, nothing changes except for having a comfortable relationship. If you love someone who hurts you, you can show them what it means to really love, convict them, and bring them to Christ. In Romans 12, it says:

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:20

Nevertheless, loving those who hurt us is hard, and it’s going to take some time and patience for us to get it right. Only God can change our hearts to love, and we have to ask for His help when we feel like we can’t.

Love Leads To The Other Fruits

Another beautiful passage about love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul says,

Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We already touched on this when we talked about Jesus and the greatest commandments. However, these verses hone love in on the other fruits of the Spirit as well. We automatically can identify patience and kindness (verse 4), peace in not being resentful (verse 5), and joy and faithfulness (verse 6).

Love is so important for us to grow in our faith; Jesus is a perfect example of love. God loved us so much that He sent His one and only son to die for us so that we could be with Him. Not only that, but we were God’s enemies. We were dirty, evil, unloving sinners that didn’t deserve a thing. But God said, “I’m going to love you anyway, and I’m going to save you because I love you so much.” 

He did save us, and He had to make a huge sacrifice to do so. But, thank the Lord, He is risen and if we believe we are saved!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

That doesn’t mean we aren’t still sinners and that we won’t ever sin again, but because of God’s love for us, we should try to be imitators of Christ. We should be trying to walk in love as Jesus did. We can try to follow all of the other commandments and produce other fruits, but if there isn’t love, it’s nothing.

It’s only when you choose to surrender to Jesus and let His love for you spark a love for Him that a desire to serve God and live for Him will matter.

Sara Barratt, Love Riot

Paul says it himself earlier in 1 Corinthians 13:

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:3

It is only with love that you can continue this series with me. It is only with love that these other fruits will mean anything to you. And I know, there will be days when love is hard. Love for God will be hard, love for others will be harder, but we can make it through this. We can love.

The Challenge

So, how do we apply this new knowledge about love? 

  1. Ask

Ask God for both a stronger love for Him and what He did for us and for a better love for others. Pray to Him, get down on your knees and beg if you have to. Just ask.

  1. Analyze

I challenge you this week, after you ask God for love, to read the book of 1 John. I will be doing it as well, since I also need to work on my love. It’s a short letter from John, the disciple of Jesus, and it has 5 chapters. Not every one of those chapters will be about love, but all of it is helpful. You can split it up in the days of the week or you can read it in bigger chunks. Do it at your own pace. If you don’t have a Bible, you can read chapter 1 here.

After you read, don’t just close your Bible and forget about it. Ask questions like, “What does this tell me about God? How can I apply this in my life?”

  1. Act

This is the hardest part, and even as I’m writing this I know it’s going to be a challenge for me as well. However, we need to do it. We (and especially I) can’t speak the word but not do it. So here it is. Two different ways you can act in love this week.

  • A. This week, when you pray for love, also pray for those who have hurt you. Who has been mean to you? Who treated you unfairly or tore you down? Pray for them. 
  • B. With people closer to you, send some messages. Text that friend who you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them how much you appreciate them and would love to talk with them. Send something to a family member and thank them for their love and care. In daily life, be patient and humble, not insisting on your own way.

Think of it as Valentine’s day in July, except it extends for a week (and hopefully for longer than a week) and instead of expecting things from others, we will be giving to others and expecting nothing in return. It’s going to be hard, but it’s also worth it. I know that, especially with my siblings, it’s hard to be loving and kind all the time. But if we have God’s help, we can do it.

Finally, here’s a song that reminds us of the importance of love:

“The Proof of Your Love” – For King & Country

Final Thoughts

Thank you for joining me today for the beginning of this series, the Fruit of the Spirit! I hope you enjoyed and will try out my challenges with me this week. If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list to receive three exclusive articles, notifications when I post, and my monthly newsletter that will be going out next Friday!

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Have a blessed day,

~Caroline