3 Good Things to Remember When You Feel Overwhelmed by Your Sin and Failures

 Photo by  Jonatan Pie  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

Although we may not be acutely aware of every sin, our conscience testifies to our sense of weakness and failure. In particular, our memories remind us of times in our lives when we may have sinned miserably—angry tempers, selfishness, divorce, harshness, neglect of children or parents, and pride are just a few transgressions we may have committed.

We recognize how the trials we have brought upon ourselves have originated in our own sin. Yet the Lord uses them to train us, to discipline us. The author of Hebrews declares:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (Heb. 12:5-7)

1. The Discipline of a Loving Father

It is good to self-examine and learn from our failures. Yet, perhaps more important than lessons learned is the question: how is God glorified in this? Is it possible that even in our self-inflicted trials—when we are acutely aware of our fallen, sinful nature—the glory of God is manifested by his work in and for us? Absolutely.

2. We Are Weak and Dusty Creatures

Consider our weakness as dusty creatures made from earthy clay: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7). God uses our weakness to show that the power of a new life in the gospel of Christ Jesus (the treasure) is God’s surpassing power. In other words, God is working in us, refining us, disciplining us, and teaching us, and he is ultimately showing that the power is his, not ours. And it is a surpassing, incomparable power. Consider Psalm 103:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

Though he disciplines us, teaching us as a loving and gracious father, he remembers our dusty weakness with compassion.

3. God’s Love and Forgiveness in Christ Jesus

It is good to mourn our sins in confession, regretting the pain we have caused others and ourselves. It is right to have a healthy desire to be taught by God—to have the discipline of a loving father. Yet, in our weakness God shows forth his glory in the love and forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus who paid the penalty of our sins by his death on the cross, and “we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7).

So, when you feel overwhelmed by your sin and failures, remember the finished work of Christ on your behalf and ascribe blessing and glory to God for the love and forgiveness we enjoy at the hand of our loving, kind, compassionate and merciful Father.