I do not intend to post a long, rambling account of my personal sins and the way I have set them aside. I have found in my own experience that my besetting sins have persisted, or even begun, after I became a Christian. The difference in my life is not a dramatic reversal of my behavior. The Holy Spirit has helped me to get better over time, but no power has been available to make me perfect or to radically and instantly deliver me from particular sins. Perfection and/ or instant deliverance are not promised in the Bible.
The change in my life that I want to focus on is the freedom I have found in God’s forgiveness. I have found freedom and power to change in the knowledge that my sins are forgiven because of Christ. I have the encouragement I need to get up when I fall down.
Jerry Bridges describes the process I found for changing my life well:
Gradually over time, and from a deep sense of need, I came to realize that the gospel is for believers, too. When I finally realized this, every morning I would pray over a Scripture such as Isaiah 53:6," 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," and then say, "Lord, I have gone astray. I have turned to my own way, but you have laid all my sin on Christ and because of that I approach you and feel accepted by you.
… [Christians] stand before God today as righteous as we ever will be, even in heaven, because he has clothed us with the righteousness of his Son. Therefore, I don't have to perform to be accepted by God. Now I am free to obey him and serve him because I am already accepted in Christ (see Rom.
8:1). My driving motivation now is not guilt but gratitude.
Yet even when we understand that our acceptance with God is based on Christ's work, we still naturally tend to drift back into a performance mindset. Consequently, we must continually return to the gospel. To use an
expression of the late Jack Miller, we must "preach the gospel to ourselves every day." For me that means I keep going back to Scriptures such as Isaiah 53:6, Galatians 2:20, and Romans 8:1. It means I frequently repeat
the words from an old hymn, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness."
… the success of our struggle with sin begins with our believing deep down in our hearts that regardless of our failures and our struggle, we have died to sin's guilt. We must believe that however often we fail, there is no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1).
I pray every day for more faith to believe the gospel. I pray for more things to. Things like my own personal sobriety, my willingness to abstain from lustful fantasy, and my ability to communicate without using “colorful” language. I find freedom from these things in Christ’s power. I do not find a perfect freedom. These are among the sins that I am prone to. If I fail, these are the ways I am going to fail most of the time.
Am I worried about loosing my salvation or making it null and void because of a “habit” or “continuing in sin?” Sometimes I do doubt, but in the end I know that I am forgiven in Christ. I repent of my sin and enjoy Christ’s forgiveness.
Will I earn rewards for the good things I have done? Yes, God will graciously reward the results of His power. He will reward the works He has brought about. But the rewards I earn will not be for me. They will be cast at the feet of Jesus in His honor.