I constantly struggle with being “good enough.” I feel as though I can never repent enough, sacrifice, cry or self-discipline enough to be pleasing to God because I sin CONSTANTLY, whether it be intentional or otherwise. Even upon resolving to do better, I return to my sin like a dog does to its vomit. When does it ever end? When does the cycle of finally learning and allowing to sink in that sinning is bad and obedience to God is good? I feel like I shouldn’t ask for forgiveness as much as I am – I feel disgusting and vulnerable, unusable for Jesus and weak in the eyes of my Creator. These kind of feelings ultimately always end up leading to the old, familiar ones – depression, loneliness, and worthlessness. I’m the kind of person who usually resorts to isolation and then pretends the rest of the time like nothing is wrong. Unfortunately, the masquerade of a perfect life fools many people into believing I have one and it makes me feel even more lonely and overlooked than before – and so another cycle incurs.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:5 NIV
Have you ever felt this way? Digging yourself into a grave and never seeming to get out of it? Never seeming to find the light switch in a dark room? Phrase it however you wish, this is an issue for millions of people because we’re all fallible humans and it needs resolved. Clearly, do-it-yourself remedies, i.e., wrong relationships, material things, money, “me time”, education or degrees, cupcakes (or food in general), aren’t ultimately satisfactory.
So now what? Maybe you feel like a slave to your feelings of depression and habits of self-infliction, and you expect to always be a slave. This is how it’s always going to be, right? You were born this way and there’s no escape from the clutches of sin.
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), and a man who had been unable to walk from birth was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at that gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, so that he could beg alms from those entering the temple. So when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking [them] for coins.”
ACTS 3:1-3 AMP
Described in verse 2 is a lame man begging at Beautiful for coins; he was paralytic not by accident but born so. The man at the gate had bad ankles and feet from birth – needless to say he was stuck where he was unless carried or somehow transported to another position. What this man needed was not coins – he needed his health restored, but did he know that or did he give up on the hope of a miracle? Do you know that you don’t need what coins can buy but only what a miracle can provide? Even in his sin, David knew he needed a healing and a miracle. In the surrounding verses of Psalm 51:5, David pleads with the Lord to wash him clean and wipe away his sins. Buying items from stores does not wash sin away – only Jesus does that. Only Jesus can perform miracles. Only Jesus died to cleanse us from sin. Only Jesus can carry you from the clutches of sin to one of redemption and newness.
“But Peter, along with John, stared at him intently and said, “Look at us!” And the man began to pay attention to them, eagerly expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–[begin now to] walk and go on walking!””
ACTS 3:4-6 AMP
When a farmer plants a seed, though he has no control over how much ultimately abounds, he expects a harvest of exactly what he planted. Similarly, no matter what most of us do, we expect something in return for it. You work for a paycheck; you cook food because you want it warm; you plant a seed expecting a harvest. But what if you planted a shoe and expected a rose? Crazy, right? Maybe not so crazy considering the basis for most of the choices made today. We plant lust expecting to reap true love. We plant sin and expect the utmost blessing of God. We plant dishonor and become confused or angry when honor cannot be harvested. We plant money and expect joy. In Acts 3, the Bible doesn’t list that the handicapped man was poor even though he was begging for money. It lists his real impediment – paralysis – and the fact that his monetary solutions were of no avail concerning this. You cannot buy in the natural what is supernatural. Just as the man at Beautiful looked up, so should you, so should I. Look up to God and expect Him to accept your honest pleas of forgiveness, your repentant heart, and to wash you clean. When Christ cleanses you from all unrighteousness, the power of sin is no longer upon you, to which Jesus says, “Stand up and walk!”
Maybe you feel like a slave to your feelings of depression and habits of self-infliction, and you expect to always be a slave. This is how it’s always going to be, right? You were born this way and there’s no escape from the clutches of sin.
Just as Peter and John approached the temple intending to cast the net of the Gospel upon men in Acts 3, Jesus Christ stands knocking at the door of your heart intending for you to let Him in. Do you see the parallel? The Holy Spirit is pursuing you just as He pursued the men at the temple through Peter and John.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV
Letting Jesus into your heart does not mean one day needing something from Him, cracking open the door to say what you need, and then shutting it to go back in by yourself. That’s not how a relationship works and it does not leaves any room for transformation. Maybe you won’t let Jesus in because you know your house, your heart, is a mess. So you let a lot of people in the house hoping they’ll help clean it up and come to realize fairly quickly that they can’t; you buy things hoping that these will distract you from the mess but you’ll come across the same junk pile later and notice that these new things you’ve bought aren’t cleaning it up at all. Or, maybe you’ve let Jesus in your house once before to sort and clean as He wishes, but lately you’ve been trying to evict Him or move Him to the front of the house, the best part that people can see instead of what’s actually in the basement.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
When we are crucified with Christ by faith in Him, we are to completely surrender every selfish desire and ambition to the perfect will of God. The Bible says when you exalt yourself, your own agenda above God’s, your selfish desires above God’s holy ones, is foolish. Even Jesus humbled Himself and allowed the Father’s will to take place above His own in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).
No matter what I do, I can’t ever make it last
I just repeat my past, I’m so broken
So much I thought I knew, all the things that I pursued
I’m worse off than before
Messiah, Beautiful Eulogy, featuring Citizens and Saints
Sin is the roadblock between God and people, whether people are saved or otherwise, which is why He does not answer prayers or let us see His face (Is.59:2). Being separate from God (letting sin remove you from His presence) ultimately leaves us feeling empty and craving that joy and completeness only Jesus can give. Amid sin, the only prayer God will hear, the only sacrifice He will accept is a broken spirit and contrite heart (Psalm 51:2), which means repenting and letting Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice cleanse you from your sin.
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent…
Who is the first love in your life? Is it a person or a store-bought item? Is it your children or your career? If it is anything – anything – apart from God, it is idolatry. No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. Matthew 6:24. Above all else are you to place Jesus in your life. He will guide your steps and make you a new creation despite what you’ve done. Repent of your sin of honoring other gods in your life above the true God. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10.
Those who are thoroughly convinced of their misery and danger by sin, would spare no cost to obtain the remission of it. But as they cannot make satisfaction for sin, so God cannot take any satisfaction in them, otherwise than as expressing love and duty to him.
Matthew Henry Commentary