Many people write to me asking for help to be free from a sin that has plagued them for a long, long time. Although they want to be free from sin, they feel defeated. They’re worn out from the fight. They’re about ready to give up hope of ever changing. If you feel the same way, I hope this message will give you new hope. Not only that, but I pray it will help you to break free from the sins that plague you as well. (Recorded March 29, 2002)
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Hi this is Eric Elder and welcome to The Ranch.
Many people write to me asking for help to be free from a sin that has plagued them for a long, long time. Although they want to be free from sin, they feel defeated. They’re worn out from the fight. They’re about ready to give up hope of ever changing. If you feel the same way, I hope this message will give you new hope. Not only that, but I pray it will help you to break free from the sins that plague you as well.
Would you believe that God wants you to be free from sin even more than you want to be free from it? You see, sin damages our relationship with God. And there’s nothing more important to God than His relationship with You. That’s why He created you. So God has gone to extreme lengths to help us live sin-free lives. And even when we do sin, God has gone to even greater lengths to restore our relationships with Him.
I want to give you three steps to help you restore your relationship with God. You can actually take these steps in a matter of minutes, but many people are reluctant to take them for a variety of reasons.
One of the reasons people are reluctant to take these steps is because sin is fun (at least initially) or else we never would have sinned in the first place. But Jesus didn’t come to take away your fun. He came to take away your sin. And when you’re free from sin, that’s when you’ll begin to experience true happiness, true joy, true peace, and true fun.
If you’ve been holding back from dealing with a sin in your life, I want to encourage you to deal with it today, right now, in our time together. Don’t put it off any longer. God can’t wait to spend every day with you for the rest of your life. He’s already sent you an invitation. Now He’s just waiting for you to respond.
Before we go on, I want you to read a passage from the Bible. I’ve printed the text on your screen below this video so that you can read it on your own, while I play the piano. As you read, pay close attention to what Jesus tells the woman at the end of the story. I believe Jesus wants to speak those same words to you.
Scripture and Music (“You are My All in All” written by Dennis Jernigan)
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 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, “If any one of you is without sin, let him 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.” (NIV)
1) Look at sin the way God looks at it
One of the things I love about that story is that Jesus wouldn’t have told the woman to “go and sin no more” if it weren’t possible. But it IS possible. So Jesus told her to do it.
In another story in John chapter 5, verse 14, Jesus healed a paralyzed man. Then Jesus told the man,
“Stop sinning or something worse will happen to you.”
It IS possible to “stop sinning.” It IS possible to “go and sin no more.” If it weren’t, Jesus wouldn’t have told us to do it. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. That doesn’t mean we may not have issues to work through. That doesn’t mean we won’t have to work hard to break bad patterns of thinking and acting. But it IS possible.
I’m sure the woman caught in adultery had some things to work through, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she left her life of sin THAT VERY DAY. There’s something about staring death in the face, a death that we rightfully deserve and could have prevented, that makes us think twice about doing the same thing again.
I have a friend whose family had a history of heart disease. He went in for a checkup and the doctor told him: “If you don’t change the way you eat and start exercising you will die.” Since that day he’s changed the way he eats and he exercises.
Sometimes I think we don’t take our sin seriously because we haven’t thought deeply about the consequences or our choices. We don’t think they are as serious as God says they are.
So the first step is just to look at sin the way God looks at it. If you don’t know how God looks at your particular sin, I encourage you to look it up in your Bible. Look closely and see what the consequences will be. And if God tells you what the penalty will be for your sin, BELIEVE HIM!
So step one is to look at sin the way God looks at it and realize that you do have a choice. You really can “go and sin no more.” And God will be glad to help you if you’ll let him, which brings us to step two.
2) Look for the way of escape
God has provided us a way of escape from EVERY moment of temptation. EVERY ONE. Listen to what Paul says in the book of First Corinthians, chapter 10, verse 13:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV)
The King James Version says it this way: when you are tempted, God “will make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it.”
Wow, what love God has for us! God is so interested in keeping our relationship with Him in tact that He will ALWAYS provide a way of escape from EVERY tempting situation. ALWAYS.
I used to love to play a computer game called “Dark Castle.” You may not like computer games, but this one was great! You were trapped in a castle and you had to find your way out. Every room had a new challenge. But every room also had a way to overcome the challenge in it. In one room, you’d find a bag of rocks to throw and protect yourself as you ran through. In another room, you’d find a secret switch that opened a secret door. In another room, you’d find a new way to jump over obstacles in your way.
Even though each room had its own challenge, each room also had its own way of escape. The key to the game was to find the way of escape that had already been provided for you.
I can’t count how many times I died in the process of looking for the way out. But I kept coming back again and again, hour after hour for more. Why? Because I KNEW there was a way out, and I wanted to find it. I KNEW there was a way of escape, and I wanted to discover it. I KNEW that this wouldn’t be one of the best-selling computer games if the programmers forgot to provide a way out of one of the rooms. No one would buy a game if there was a chance you’d get stuck at one level with no chance of going further. The reason I continued to come back is because I KNEW that victory was possible and I wanted it.
Now sin is no game, but God HAS promised us that He will always provide a way out when we’re tempted.
But sometimes we want to give up. Sometimes we think we’re stuck in our sins forever, with no hope of ever getting out. Sometimes we think since we’ve failed before we’ll never win.
The Designer of your life has provided a way out of every temptation. Every challenge you face is accompanied by a way to overcome that challenge.
The Bible says:
“God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, a way of escape, so that you will be able to stand up under it.”
If you’re asking “Is there really a way out?”, you’re asking the wrong question. You’ll be frustrated and give up the first time you hit a wall. But if you’re asking, “God, what’s the way out? Please show it to me,” then you’re asking the right question.
These are two very different questions. One WONDERS if there’s hope, the other KNOWS there’s hope, it’s just a matter of finding it. I want to assure you THERE IS HOPE. THERE IS a way out. THERE IS a way of escape. And God puts that way of escape at every single point of temptation we face. EVERY SINGLE ONE. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But unlike the computer game I described earlier, God’s way of escape isn’t hidden at all. It’s usually very clear. The way of escape is usually straight ahead of us. Fix your eyes on Jesus and don’t turn back. Don’t turn to the side. Keep going straight towards Him. The Bible says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
God wants you to overcome your sin and He will help you do it. Whenever you are tempted, look for the way of escape. But God doesn’t stop there. He loves you so much and cares so much about His relationship with you, He even goes further. Here’s step number three:
3) Look for the way back
Even if we fail to choose the way of escape, God still provides a way for us to come back! It’s called CONFESSION. When we give in to temptation, God says that he will still forgive us of our sins if we’re willing to confess them.
First John chapter 1, verse 9 says:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession means “to agree with.” When we confess to God, we’re telling Him that we finally agree with Him. We agree that what we’ve done has hurt us and it’s hurt our relationship with Him.
You might “stew” over your sins. You might feel sorry about your sins. You might agree that your sins have caused damage. But until you confess your sins, agreeing with God that what you’ve done was wrong, you will never get out.
True confession sounds like this: “God, you’re right, I was wrong. What I did was against your will, and it hurt my relationship with you. It hurt my relationship with others.” At this point, you’re confessing your sins. You’re bringing your them to God in a way that you agree with Him about what you’ve done. You wish you had never done it. You wish you could take it back.
But you can’t take it back. You can’t undo the past. When you sin, you have forever violated the purity and holiness that God intended for you, and there’s nothing you can do about it, except for one thing.
Now if that were the end of it, I’d say, “Give up, go home, shut off the computer, and stop playing the game. Give up on life because there’s no reason to go on. If breaking one rule is enough to damn us eternally to hell, and it is, then why carry on?”
But that’s not the end of it. God LOVES US TOO MUCH to not allow us to come back. The thing He cares about most is His relationship with you. So what good would it do to kill the very person He wants a relationship with in the first place? How does God solve this dilemma?
He solved it by sending Jesus Christ into the world to die for our sins, taking the penalty upon himself that we rightly deserved, so that we could be free and come back to Him again.
When you put your faith in Christ, believing that He died for you, confessing your sins and turning away from them, God promises He will forgive you. And instantly your relationship with God will be restored. INSTANTLY!
If you don’t put your faith in Christ, you will have to pay the penalty yourself. Some people think that’s unfair. But it’s not unfair. Christ didn’t come to condemn you. He came to save you. What you’ve done, the sins you’ve committed, are enough to condemn you for eternity. But Christ offers you eternal life instead, if you’ll just turn from your sins and put your trust in Him.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18, NIV)
If you’ve never put your faith in Christ, I encourage you to do it today, right now, and I’ll prayer with you in a minute to help you come to God and restore your relationship with Him.
But for those of you who have already put your faith in Christ, but continue to fall into sin again and again, I want to give you these words of hope: the same forgiveness and restoration that was available to you when you were first saved is still available to you today. The same process that gave you eternal life will restore your relationship with God right now.
You may already have certainty of your eternal life because you trust in Christ for your salvation. But you can also be free from the sin that is plaguing you. And that freedom comes through confession.
Confess your sins to God right now, and I want to encourage you to do something else: confess your sins to someone else here on this earth. When you bring your sin into the light, it deals a DEATH BLOW to that sin in your life. Satan works in darkness, so as long as you keep your sin in the dark, that sin will have power over you.
I cannot count the number of people who have written to me and said they’ve prayed for years to be free from a certain sin and can’t break it. But when I encourage them to confess their sins to someone else, whether it’s me, or their spouse, or the person they’ve hurt, they experience a whole new level of freedom, if not total freedom, almost immediately. And by confessing to those they’ve hurt, they not only restore their relationship with God, but they restore their relationship with the person they’ve hurt as well. James 5:16 says
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Confession and prayer really will bring the healing you’ve wanted for so long.
Returning to God
ear friend, God loves you, and He doesn’t want anything to stand between you and Him. He wants a terrific relationship with you. But it’s up to you to return to Him. Here are the three steps again:
1) Look at sin the way God looks at it. You really do have a choice. You can choose sin, or you can choose life.
2) Look for the way of escape. God provides a way of escape at EVERY point of temptation.
3) Look for the way back. Confessing your sin and putting your faith in Christ is the only way that I’ve found in the Bible that God promises will bring us back into a right relationship with Him.
I want to give you a chance right now to get right with God, to restore your relationship with Him. You can do it in a matter of minutes. When you do, you’ll unload a bundle of guilt and shame. And you’ll replace it with the incredible lightness of peace that surpasses understanding.
As I play the piano, take a few minutes to pray on your own. Think about what you want to say to God. Then I’ll join you and help lead you in a prayer together.
Remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery: GO AND SIN NO MORE. He wouldn’t have said it if it weren’t possible.
Music (“I’m Forever Grateful,” written by Mark Altrogge)
Father, I pray for those who need to find a way of escape right now. If they’re involved in something too deep for them, I pray you would show them the way of escape. Show them the way out, then help them take it. Show them that You are answering their prayers, let them see you clearly, and show them how to walk out of their situation. Father, for those who are considering going down the path of temptation, show them that the way of escape is straight ahead. Help them fix their eyes on You, focus on You.
Father, for those who have fallen into sin and don’t see a way out. Show them that you have provided the way out. Help them to not take it for granted, but to take hold of it so You can help them out of their pit. Father, help them see that confession to You, and confession to others, will bring healing, and will deal a death blow to their sin. Father, I ask that they would pray with me right now, asking you to forgive them of their sins:
Pray in your heart with me:
Father, I’m sorry for the things I’ve done that have hurt my relationship with You. I love you, and want to restore my relationship with You. Father, I agree with You that the mistakes I have made are not just mistakes, but they are sin, they have broken Your law, they have gone against what You want for me, and I’m sorry.
Father, I know I don’t deserve to be forgiven, but I realize that You sent Your Son Jesus into this world specifically so that I could be forgiven if I would just believe in Him. Father, I confess my sins to You now, and I confess my love for Jesus to You now. I do believe in Him. I believe He died for me on the cross so that I could be free from sin, and so I could restore my relationship with You. Father, thank You for forgiving me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit to will help me do the things I want to do and that You want me to do. Fill me from head to toe until I overflow so that I may live the life Jesus wants me to live, and so Jesus can live through me and reach out to others as well. Father, I thank You for this new life You’re giving me, and I thank You that You love me so much that You went to such lengths to restore my relationship with you. I love You, Lord, and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with You, here on earth, and in heaven forever. I pray this in Jesus’ name, AMEN!!
Remember, Jesus didn’t come to take away your fun, he came to take away your sin. He’s got plenty of fun for you in this life. But fun is only truly fun when you engage in it in His way, in His timing. Don’t miss a day of spending time with God from now on. Read your Bible every day. Talk to God in prayer every day and let Him talk to you. Find some other Christians that you can spend time with to encourage each other in your faith until Jesus returns.
I hope this has been an encouragement to you and I hope you’ll join me here again at The Ranch.