By Sarah Garrett, Crosswalk.com
Jessica sat up in her bed after an unsuccessful attempt at sleep. The events of the night kept replaying in her mind. “I can’t believe I let myself go that far again,” she thought in frustration. “Why is this so difficult for me? Is it this hard for other Christians? I’m surprised God hasn’t just given up on me by now.”
Jessica had been out that night with her boyfriend and had gone “too far” again. A definition of that term may vary depending on the person, but it is clear that she crossed a sexual line that she knows as a Christian she shouldn’t have.
Can you relate to Jessica?
Maybe you’re here because you’ve found yourself in a similar place. Maybe you’ve gone too far just once or multiple times and the pang of condemnation makes you feel guilty, that God is far away, or He’s done forgiving you.
If this is the case, I want to go through a likely familiar Bible passage and show you four truths to help replace your guilt with grace.
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The Woman Caught in Adultery
The woman caught in adultery had definitely gone too far. As a refresher, here is the passage that tells her story from John 8:1-11 (NIV):
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
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Truth 1: You are not alone.
In the opening, when Jessica is thinking to herself, she asks if her sin is only difficult for her. The answer, no; other people struggle too, and this story shows that. The woman who was caught in adultery was not alone; the man she was with was “guilty” as well.
Sexual sin is also smattered throughout the Bible; King David is another notable perpetrator. The human race has not changed since the fall and if people struggled with sexual sin in Bible times, they are still struggling now. Jessica, and you, are not alone.
In fact, Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” This is why none of the woman’s accusers could throw a stone. They all had sinned, even if it was different from her sin.
Satan likes for us to feel alone because it makes us feel powerless. His voice can be louder because there are not as many voices to drown him out.
It’s time to let Satan know, and believe for yourself, that you are not alone.
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Truth 2: Condemnation is not of God.
Could you imagine how guilty, embarrassed, and ashamed this woman must have felt? Do the negative thoughts in your head make you feel the same?
The “religious leaders” were thrilled to condemn this woman and try to use her as a pawn to use against Jesus.
Satan works the same way. He uses condemnation to create guilt and make you feel unworthy and shamed. He wants you to think you’ve gone too far and can never get back. He wants to use what you’ve done as a pawn to show Jesus that one of his “children” has messed up.
However, as John 3:17 states, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jesus did not come to condemn, so he did not condemn the woman. He doesn’t condemn us either.
He, like the loving father he is, convicts us and calls us to repentance. God doesn’t want you to feel beaten up and worthless. To find freedom from these feelings, let’s move to the next step.
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Truth 3: God continually forgives.
Asking for forgiveness of sin seems like an elementary statement. However, sometimes we ask for forgiveness and then continue to wonder if God really forgave us. Sometimes we even ask for forgiveness for the same sin multiple times just to make sure.
Also, if we “get stuck” in habitual sin, like Jessica in the beginning, we can think that God only has a certain number of times he will forgive any one sin. You may be reading this thinking, “Well God, it’s time number 15 and I’m still struggling with going too far. Surely you’re running out of forgiveness for me by now.” Again, I can assure you, this is a lie.
Matthew 18:22 is when Jesus declares that we should forgive each other “seventy times seven.” In this verse, he indicates that forgiveness should essentially be endless. It’s the same with God. As Christians, we will sin, and each time we need to ask for forgiveness.
After doing so, we also need to believe Psalm 103:12 which states that, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Our sins are covered by Jesus, and we need to truly accept God’s forgiveness and walk in the freedom that gives.
It’s time to confess your sin to God, ask for his forgiveness, leave the guilt, and accept his grace.
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Truth 4: Boundaries are your friends.
Jesus’ last recorded words to the woman caught in adultery are, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” So how do we do that exactly? How do we head off a sinful desire we struggle with?
The short answer: set up boundaries.
Romans 13:14 states, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Provision means to provide a way for and to truly stay out of sin as much as possible, we have to attempt to block the avenues where sin can entice us.
For example, if you struggle at night:
- do not let yourself be alone with the other person at night
- keep the lights on
- make your dates in public places
- don’t get under a blanket to “snuggle” on the couch
Having boundaries and sticking to them can prevent many sinful situations from occurring.
No matter how far you have gone over the “too far” line, you can always come back. Remember that there is grace for your guilt and a way to keep this sin from becoming habitual. I pray that you found this helpful and that you use it to walk in the freedom God has for us.
Sarah Garrett is a passionate educator and the founder of Transformed4More.com. She has a calling on her life to share God’s truth to teenagers to help them lived transformed lives for Jesus Christ. She is the author of So, You Think You’re Ready to Date? a 40-day devotional for teenage girls to learn how to set a Biblical foundation for romantic relationships.
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