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How bad should I feel about my sin - Christian?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm wondering if I should be crying about how horrible I am and how Christ had to die for my selfishness, impatience, or whatever it is at the time every time the Holy Spirit reveals my sin to me. I don't. I definitely feel remorse. Especially if it's something that has hurt others, and if I understand fully how it hurt God. Here is how I deal with it:

1. Know that I am forgiven under grace, and I live under the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
2. Ask for forgiveness and thank God for Christ's intercession for me.
3. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me discern sin, and to assist me in the work to change my heart.
4. Try to be more conscious of this area of my life.

Here is why I'm asking. I just read C.J. Mahaney's Cross Centered Life. He writes multiple times about the guilt of sin overwhelming people. How he said he "is doing better than he deserves."? How conscious are we of these thoughts? How do we escape thinking of sin in terms of what a court of law would... ex. I didn't kill anyone, so I'm not really horrible? I'm just wondering if I should have more emotion about this... if there is something I'm not getting.
post #2 of 16
I think it's healthy to feel bad about sin, because the assures us that our conscience is clear, and our heart is soft and open unto the Lord. However, it shouldn't consume us. It's good to be aware of, but we shouldn't spend everyday feeling horrible about it. Instead, we should enjoy the riches of Christ, meaning by praying, and by salvation, we are saved! By receiving the Lord into our hearts, we have already been saved. All we need to do is to confess our sins-and it is erased from God's mind, forever. If you are feeling bad about something, my suggestion is to confess this sin, say, "Lord, I have sinned, or I have done XXXX. I am sorry, please forgive me.'' We should be confessing our sins, but we should not be focused on them. Our focus should be Christ Himself, not our sin.
post #3 of 16

We should feel sad until we confess and ask forgiveness, but once that is done, it is gone. I do not believe we are to continuously beat ourselves up about it once it has been forgiven. I do believe it is good to feel the grief of sin BEFORE we ask for forgiveness because that tells us how soft our hearts are toward the things of God.

If we can sin deliberately and NOT feel bad, then we have a callus heart in that area and need to have it softened. But if we feel bad when we are convicted and repent, then it is done and over with.

I always want to have a soft heart for the things of God. But it is not necessary to be overly burdened, or even burdened at all, once we have given it over to God. He is there to take our burdens not to hold them over our head.

I think some people can become 'low' in their thinking. So they feel not worthy enough of God. But if we are a child of God, we are part of the Royal Family. We ARE 'good enough' BECAUSE of Christ and have been grafted into the Vine and are JOINT HEIRS with Christ (Romans 8:17). Meaning we are part of the family now. Sure we fall short. But we repent and move on, just as when your children do something wrong and feel bad and say they are sorry and you forgive them and everyone moves on. You would not want your children to feel horrible AFTER they said they were sorry and you forgave them, but you would want them to feel sorry BEFORE they did.

It is this guilt that causes one to repent in the first place. If there was no guilt, then you would not repent. But, I don't think it is necessarily 'better' or mean you are more spiritual if you 'feel' overwhelming guilt. Guilt, big or small, that brings you to repentance is the same in the end. Whatever it takes to bring to to the feet of God, that is what is good.

Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."
post #4 of 16
i think your method makes sense. remorse is one thing, feeling worthless/unworthy is another.

one of the reasons that i don't associate with 'christianity' is because of the language often used around this issue (and others) which seems to indicate that we are not divine beings loved by God, but instead, horribly flawed beings who don't deserve to be loved by God. Seriously though, the scriptures say that God loves us. God understand our humanity--which includes our ignorance--which is why sin or wrongdoing is pointed out to us *gently*.

and it's not meant to say "you're unworthy' but rather to say 'here's what we're working on together--you and Me.' and so, while it's ok to feel remorse, it's not ok to carry a sense of worthlessness.

to me, that sense of worthlessness or being unworthy is as much as sin as pride or any other. God does not want us to feel worthless. if we weren't worthy, he wouldn't bother! but we are worthy, we are part of Him, and He loves us.

so, for my own part, i don't "feel bad" about my sin. i feel remorse when i hurt others, and God knows i strive to not hurt others as best and as much as i can. but i also know that it was brought up to help me be a better me, and that God is there for me. In fact, one of the things that God really loves about me is that fact that i seek out my sin to better myself. Not a day goes by where i don't ask for my 'trouble spots' to be revealed or that i don't work on those areas. I work diligently, and God likes this about me, supports me in it. Doubly so because i'm not afraid to face my humanity, my error, without flinching and without loosing that sense of self that He created in me.
post #5 of 16
Sin is not only about what we do to others and the consequences it has in this life. Sin separates us from God. Sin grieves God. Light can not have fellowship with darkness. Psalm 51 says "against you and you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight." not that we should disregard how our sin effects others but we also need to focus on how it grieves God and pulls us further and further away from him or blocks up from moving closer to him. Doing so can help us grasp the gravity of sin and the impact it has in our lives.

I don't know that we need to be sobbing and wretched over every little way we screw up but we do need to acknowledge the gravity of sin. we need to hate the sin in our life. I am always horrified when people can just shrug of sin and say "whatever, I will just repent and be forgiven".. When Christ spoke to people his instructions were almost always "go and sin no more" He was serious about overcoming the sin in our lives. and repentance involves more than being a little sorry or a nod of agreement that you could have made a better choice. Its about being truly sorry for you sins and through that sorrow struggling and fighting to overcome it.

and when we look at those surface sins, those ones that don't bother us and are easily confessed and easily forgiven we need to dig deeper to our heart. our motivation. Chances are those little sins aren't as little as you think they are. was it lust? envy? pride? arrogance? greed? selfishness that caused us to sin? where else do these things cause us to sin? these are the things that grieve me to tears and put me on my face before God. The real ugliness in my heart. Its not about cutting someone off in traffic or yelling at my kids or breaking a fast. its about the sin in my heart that provided fertile ground for these little actions and all the other ways that sin is manifesting itself in my actions.

we don't need to dwell on sin in such a way that we become defeated and give up. but keeping a repentant humble heart ever before us is the catalyst for change in our lives and drawing ever closer to God and making God's full will for us a reality in our life.
post #6 of 16
Yes, sin it more like a weed. It seeps in and spreads like wildfire. You can see the little sprouts and buds that pop up all over the place, but it is not as easy to see the root. That root can run very deep into our lives, too.

That does grieve me. Because I want to be clean completely, not just superficially. But if you can find the root and pull it up, the 'small sin' will stop popping up all around.

I don't take my repentance lightly, either. Jesus paid a very high price for my sins, the ultimate price. And I am so grateful for His sacrifice, I never want to take that for granted. I owe him my everything.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
That is why I'm wondering what is wrong. I rarely am feeling like my heart is just completely ugly, and I don't really feel like a wretch. I'm not self-righteous either.... I just don't feel it. I hate my sin and what it does to me and others, and that it takes away from my ability to witness and glorify God. I work hard to change it. I've been working on impatience, selfishness with time, and making TTC an idol lately. That's brought out other things... like the weed analogy. I understand that I am completely indebted to Christ, and I am ever so thankful - I worship Him, His strength, His full submission to the will of the Father. I do cry when I think of His scarifice, especially when I listen to or watch Jesus Christ Superstar. I do feel I have a deep relationship with God.

What I think might be playing into this is... I know I will never be perfect, but always being perfected until the final day. I feel like I am growing and working hard at weeding out the sin in my life. I can sometimes get caught up in the difference between like how our culture judges breaking the law, and how God sees sin. It is hard for me to think about all sin being equal, when in our culture it clearly isn't. If I had stolen from someone for instance, I would see my reaction as being falling on my knees, weeping, calling out, etc... But, when I think of my impatience, my feeling is more frustration with it. Kind of treating like a habit I need to break. I do see the need of asking for forgiveness, and not taking that lightly. Also, rejoicing in the fact that my God loves me enough to give the ultimate sacrifice despite my shortcomings.

So, am I all messed up. Is there something horribly wrong with my emotion, or could it be that I'm just not one who will ever react that way because of personality. I know I need a better grasp on how all sin is equal in the eyes of God. Maybe when I understand that more, I'll feel more like it seems I should. Or am I even wrong in my reaction to my sin?

Thanks for this discussion. I'm glad we can all communicate fully and openly.
post #8 of 16
I think it is is easier to grasp how all sin is equal when you stop focusing on what it cost you or others and rather focus on "this is something in my life that is keeping me from being holy like He is holy".

i think easy for me to get so comfortable in the fact that we will be forgiven if we truely repent, and that we will be perfected when the time comes that I have a hard time feeling the weight of my sin. Not the individual sin but the fact that I choose willfully to turn away from God in disobedience and rebellion. Thinking myway is better. Its not about the specific sin (and at the same time it is) but more about my heart being rebelious to my father. And i don't want that. but at time i have to remind myself that I don't want that.

i don't think that there is anything wrnog with you. The fact that you are struggeling with this suggests to me that you really do care deeply. Just keep asking God to convict you and to stir up in you a desire to please Him in every way.
post #9 of 16
I will not go into sin and so forth, but I have had experience with overwhelming guilt before. Guilt can be so shattering that it keeps you from changing your ways or robs you of hope - that guilt is not from God or derived from a good conscience, but can be a trick, a way to keep you from changing your ways. If you are fine with the way you deal with sin, I would not try to artificially enhance your feelings of guilt. I would be very careful with guilt (or any other emotion) for its own sake or as emotional proof of virtue etc. Just my two cents.
post #10 of 16
IMO sometimes the challenge of accepting God's grace and mercy, and thereby letting go of your sin, can be more daunting than repenting over your sin. No matter how sinful you are, your sins are forgiven; accepting that forgiveness, and accepting that you *need* the overwhelming mercy of Christ, can be the hardest part.
post #11 of 16
I think the Church's liturgical seasons can be helpful for this. There are penitential seasons (Lent, Advent) when it is appropriate to contemplate one's own sins and sinful nature. There are other seasons when it is more appropriate to contemplate God's grace and forgiveness (Easter).

Every week Fridays are a time for fasting and penitence, and Sundays are a time to celebrate the resurrection.

I'm Episcopalian, and the Church's framework for repenting/celebrating makes a lot of sense to me.
post #12 of 16
I have serious issues with CJ Mahaney that I could take up via PM (as not to violate the UA or bring negativity upon the board.)

Suffice to say, Jesus died on the cross to take away guilt and sin and allow us to approach the Father as an adopted child. We were not created to wallow in our guilt and sin. I don't like this getting better than we deserve load. We're created in His image, he loved us enough to make the ultimate sacrifice for us. We are His precious children and we *deserve* (because, after, He did die for us,) to live a rich and abundant life.

Pish, posh, to CJ, needs some rogaine, Mahaney. Oh, yes, dear leaders use this one to manipulate the regular peoples.
post #13 of 16
There are 2 main schools of thought regarding sin and Christianity. St. Augustine represents one side, believing that humans are foul, basically evil creatures whose only value comes from God's grace; that humankind is so mired in sin that we can not ever will ourselves to do good unless God wills that for us.

On the other side of the coin you have the idea that humankind is basically good, but continually makes poor choices because of our sin nature. On this side you have the idea that God gives us the capacity to do good of our own volition, able to help one another and work towards a greater good in spite of our sin.

And of course there are many grey shades in between.

I suppose any one person's reaction to sin depends somewhat on what side they are on. For myself, I accept that I sin and that there are things with which I will always struggle (even Paul had a thorn in his side). I look to God to guide me, and know that sometimes I stray, and I go before Him in humility and ask Him to forgive me for everything. I don't don a hairshirt and ashes, but I do feel the sting of my inability to serve God as perfectly as I would like. Pesky will keeps getting in the way.

I also accept that in spite of my imperfect nature, God is still using me as He will, in ways I may not understand today, or ever, for that matter. And because I know that God forgives me of my sins, I believe I am obligated to extend mercy and forgiveness to others.

post #14 of 16
Originally Posted by Penelope View Post
IMO sometimes the challenge of accepting God's grace and mercy, and thereby letting go of your sin, can be more daunting than repenting over your sin. No matter how sinful you are, your sins are forgiven; accepting that forgiveness, and accepting that you *need* the overwhelming mercy of Christ, can be the hardest part.

That is so true.
post #15 of 16
I'm not sure it's so important to feel remorseful for your sins, since feelings are pretty much out of our control. I think the more important aspect of contrition is to emerge from confessing our sins to God with "a firm purpose of amendment"--to emerge transformed with a desire to stop committing sins (with God's help), or if we're not there yet, with a desire to desire this.
post #16 of 16
excellent point. We won't always feel the way we want to feel. We don't read anything about the woman at the well sobbing and writing on the floor. but she knew. and she stopped sinning. and went on to be one of the great witnesses for Christ. repentance, weather we are emotionally devestated by our sin or not, always involves a willful act of change. At its core it just doesn't matter how much we want to change if we don't actually give up that vice.
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