Charles Spurgeon once said of sin:
“A little thorn may cause much suffering. A little cloud may hide the sun. Little foxes spoil the vines; and little sins do mischief to the heart. Little sins burrow in the soul, and make it so full of that which is hateful to Christ, that he will hold no comfortable fellowship and communion with us. A great sin cannot destroy a Christian, but a little sin can make him miserable.”
For the Christian, sin no longer enslaves us, but it does endanger us. While we have been set free from its bondage through the life-saving power of Jesus, we are not immune to sin and its tempting allure. Though we are now named “saints”, new creations in Christ, we will wrestle with who we once were until we are fully redeemed in the age to come.
So how does someone who has been saved by Jesus and has committed to follow him with all of their life deal with their own sin? One short answer to that question is “lament.” Lament is the passionate expression of grief or sorrow. Every so often one of my sons comes to me, head hung low, tears in his eyes, barely able to muster up the words to speak, doing his best to confess something wrong that he did. At that moment my son is lamenting the mistake he made. Through his bodily posture, his emotional state, and his language, he is saying “Dad, I messed up, I wish that I hadn’t, I’m sorry.”
When we lose the battle with sin and give into temptation, in Spurgeon’s words, sin “burrows in our soul and makes us miserable.” In these moments it’s important for you and I learn to return to our heavenly Father. It can be easy to run away in our shame, or to stuff our wrongdoing and try to pretend that it didn’t happen. But when we do this, we give sin a foothold — we allow it to burrow further down into our souls.
Instead, we ought to recognize just how gracious our Father is. He delights in His children returning to Him and apologizing for what they’ve done wrong. And even better, He holds the capacity to actually forgive us and to make right what we’ve made wrong. To lament our sin is to return to our Father with tears in our eyes saying we’re sorry, we wish we hadn’t done what we did, and ask for forgiveness. There’s possibly no greater example of this in the Bible than Psalm 51. Here are a couple of verses for us to meditate on…
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight - Psalm 51:3-4
David, the Psalmist, is returning to God and lamenting his wrongdoing. He’s being honest about it rather than stuffing it away. He goes on in verse 10…
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
We can hear in this verse that David is aware of God’s ability both to receive his repentance AND to restore him. He prays, “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” This is David’s own way of saying, “Help me change, God.” This is an important part of lamenting our sin: the recognition that God (not us) has the power to bring about change. So, like David, we ought to ask our Father to help us become more holy people — to help us live more wholeheartedly for Him.
Beautifully, if we track further with David’s story, we know that God continued to work faithfully in his life to restore him. He will do the same with us if we are faithful to return to him, lament our sin, and ask him to help us change.
So let’s take a minute right now… is there anything that you need to pause and confess to God? Is there any wrongdoing you need to lament?
Can we all ask the Lord to help us change, to become more like Christ in all that we do and say?
If we do this, the Lord is faithful to hear us, faithful to forgive, and faithful to lead us into greater holiness.