“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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Have a blessed day,