Question:

I have been a Christian for about five years now. Recently I have found myself becoming a slave to sin instead of a slave to Christ. I don't like to talk about my emotions and things, so instead of dealing with them I choose to bottle them up until it finally feels like I can't take it anymore. Then I turn to worldly things because I am selfish and trying to escape reality for at least a while. Sometimes I just get angry and hit things or recently I find myself drinking (not everyday but every few weeks when I can't take it anymore). I know this is not the path neither I or the Lord wants for me, and I want to stop it before it's too late.

Part of me thinks I do this because I get stressed in school. I feel like I don't meet someone's expectations or my own, then I'm a failure. The loss of my grandfather I thought I dealt with, but recently I've been thinking about it a lot.

I feel myself becoming a "lukewarm" Christian, which I don't want to be, but it's almost as if I have kept committing the same sin over and over that I have began to justify it and I don't feel bad for doing it anymore.

I know God forgives me, but I can't accept the fact that He forgives me because I can't forgive myself for it and just move on. And I'm tired of telling Him I'm going to change and go a couple days without doing it and only weeks later do it again. I think God is tired of hearing me say it, and I'm tired of hearing myself say it. I know there is a verse that says "If you love me keep my commandments" but I don't do that. Instead, in my mind I read it as if you love me you'll keep some of my commandments or the ones I want, which isn't right, and I realize that. I want to say I love God, but I guess I don't truly love God because if I did I would keep His commandments. I want to start putting God first instead of my own selfish desires. I want to have an intimate connection with God and truly put him first. I now realize I've been putting my wants and needs before Christ, and I just want that to change.

That was a lot of info but I guess my questions are:

  • How do I properly deal with my emotions?
  • How do I properly repent and get back on the right path?
  • Do Christians need to forgive themselves?
  • What happens when a Christian begins to justify sins?

I just don't know what to do anymore and if you can't answer my questions or whatever, then I just ask for your prayers. Thanks!


Answer:

It appears to me that you rarely solve issues. Generally you try to avoid them and when things accumulate too great, you try to escape through some means, such as drinking. Of course, that still doesn't solve any of the problems, so things continue to build and the apparent crises become more frequent.

The best way to deal with issues is to have someone you trust to talk to. "Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days" (Proverbs 19:20). You will benefit from having different views of your situation and ideas regarding how to get through problems.

Repentance is changing your mind about the sins you are doing, no longer making excuses for them, and changing your behavior so that you are no longer doing them. Relapses might occur, but because you are determined to overcome, you get yourself back up on your feet and continue to battle.

You mentioned drinking. Drunkenness is condemned (I Corinthians 6:9-10) and Christians are reminded to stay sober at all times (I Thessalonians 5:6-9). Thus, the solution is to get rid of the alcoholic drinks in your home and give up drinking. This will have the side-effect of giving more control over your emotions as you will think more clearly about how to deal with situations.

Anger often comes about because you are trying to force a solution on things you have no control over. But if you have no control, anger won't give you control. Rather, anger merely causes you to act hastily. "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20). Here then is the answer. We must take time to gather facts and understand what is going on. We don't jump to say what we think or rush to get mad. In your case, staying away from alcohol will also help in controlling your anger.

What you are aiming for is a dedication to change that is so strong that years from now no one who meets you would guess that you used to have a problem in this area. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

But when you give into sin, no longer fighting against it, you become numb to its presence. "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:1-2). Over time you lose the feeling of guilt for doing what you know is wrong.

When someone says they can't forgive themselves, it is often pride speaking -- and a lack of trust in God. You should be disappointed that you gave into sin. Guilt should be there because you did wrong.

To speak of forgiveness is to talk about the releasing of a debt. For example, if you borrowed money from someone and they say that you don't have to pay it back, a debt was forgiven. We don't typically talk about owing ourselves money; therefore, forgiving ourselves of a debt we owed ourselves would be a bit nonsensical.

Sin is a debt. It earns the sinner the wrath of God. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Thus only God can release us from our debt -- to forgive us of our sin. As God said, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins" (Isaiah 43:25). Many times our sins harm another person. They can forgive the sinner of the harm that was done to them, but the debt of sin still remains between the sinner and God.

When a Christian turns back from sin, God promises forgiveness, and God always keeps His promises. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). That is what is meant by saying, "He is faithful." Whether another person forgives us of the harm we did them doesn't matter in the end, the important point is whether God forgives us of what we have done.

A person who says "I can't forgive myself" isn't stating the situation accurately. He doesn't owe a debt to himself. What he is really saying is that he feels guilty for having sinned. Guilt has a place in our lives. It reminds us that we did wrong and it proves some motivation not to repeat those sins. Yes, when you look back at your sins, you are disappointed that you did not live up to God's standards. That memory remains, reminding your that you are not perfect and that you are not earning God's forgiveness. But at the same time you can look at the fact that God does forgive sins and that you have done as God asked of you. Then true appreciation can be expressed to God.

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen" (I Timothy 1:12-17).

You don't owe yourself forgiveness, you need faith that God's forgiveness is sufficient.