This is something I still struggle with myself even though I understand the truth of it logically. No matter how much you sin and fail God, he still loves you and can forgive you. The hard part for me is actually forgiving myself even knowing God has done that for me.
Something I have always struggled to have is joy in the Lord. In many ways, I actually lost any joy that I had because I became entirely aware of how evil I actually am. I don't think this is something only I struggle with, I am sure many of us do and there isn't an easy solution to it. I was someone who genuinely thought he was a moral person until Hannah finally told me everything I needed to know about God and completely destroyed the illusion I had created for myself. I had actually taken a lot of pride in knowing that, compared to most people, I was pretty great, so when I lost it I never really recovered from it. I live constantly aware that even as I improve I am nowhere near where I need to be and it is like a crushing weight constantly on my head that I can't seem to get rid of.
The solution should be pretty simple, pray and trust what the bible says about it. God loves us so much that no matter what we do we can be forgiven for it. That includes our past, present, and future sins, without any exceptions, all paid for with Jesus's blood on the cross. This, for most people, seems to be an amazing comfort that no matter what they do God will forgive them and welcome them in Heaven. For me and anyone like me though, it doesn't have the same effect. I am completely aware that God is able to forgive me for anything I do, but my need to be a genuinely good person means that I hate myself any time I mess up even remotely. I am not generally afraid of going to Hell, I know Jesus is with me and that I will be forgiven for anything I do, but the hardest thing for me is to forgive myself. I hold on to everything I ever did in the past which is, unfortunately, a very long list. Despite being able to easily forgive other people for the exact same things, I find it almost impossible to forgive myself for anything no matter how minor it was. I feel nothing but shame and despite trying I have not actually managed to stop thinking this way.
I am wrong to think this way. The reality is that Jesus died for our sins so that we wouldn't dwell the way I do. Jesus doesn't want us to dwell on the past, he wants us to dwell on him and the things we can do with him. We have been washed clean of our guilt by his actions and it is wrong to hold on to something that should be long gone. It is not an easy thing but we all need to learn to forgive ourselves, because no one should have to carry the weight of this much sin. Jesus did it for us when he took up his cross and if you are like me and struggling day after day with depression, you know exactly how heavy the weight of our sin is. We should never become the sorts of people that just don't care and do whatever we want even if it is sinful, but we also shouldn't dwell so hard we destroy ourselves.
Learn from your failures and do all in your power not to sin. Pray to God if you fail and do all in your power to never stumble again. He will be at your side helping you even if you don't know it. Don't hate yourself because you are a new creation and Jesus loves you even with all of your flaws. Jesus died on the cross knowing exactly how evil we are and he thinks we are worth saving, we should accept that truth and just learn to be grateful for everything Jesus did for us. It won't be easy, I know I have been trying for a long time, but learning to love yourself as God does is the path we all have to take if we really want to find joy in God.
Since the day I became a Christian, I have struggled with keeping my interests. I am not talking about the obviously sinful things, I mean the hobbies that weren't wrong but people treated as a problem. People never stop talking about putting God first, and they are right, but they have a tendency to take it so far that you feel like you have to be on your face praying 24/7 or you are barely even a Christian. This is not the right mindset to have and that is what I want to talk about right now.
We all have hobbies and interests. Some of us like sports while others like video games, it doesn't really matter and the options are limitless. Plenty of us have careers we are pursuing and trying to do our best in. All of us want to have enough money to feel comfortable and safe, and so we prioritize money.
None of these things are automatically bad by themselves. There isn't anything actually sinful about any of these things but that won't stop people for making you feel guilty about them. Hobbies are fine, so long as they don't control your entire life and you still keep God as your focus while you do them. The same goes for your career, keep God the focus of your life and it is fine to prioritize your job. And money is just a means to an end, needing it is not the same as loving it, and I wouldn't do anything wrong just to get it. The bible talks about the love of money being evil, but that doesn't mean we can't do everything we can to earn enough to provide for our families. There is no biblical requirement to be poor and avoid money.
The reason I bring these things up is because I have met plenty of people who will treat you like a sinner if you focus on any of these things. They act as if when you do normal life things you aren't putting God first and you need to fix it. If you took it all to its logical conclusion, you would live in a box hiding from the world praying all day, occasionally surfacing to preach the gospel before going back to praying. You see, unless you are doing something that puts your direct focus on God, you are doing it wrong. At least if you have this sort of mindset, I am sure feeding the poor would work too but you have no money and you aren't Jesus so more likely than not you would need fed as compared to feeding anyone. It is a pretty scary mindset to have, because pretty much no matter what you are doing, you will feel some sort of guilt. Luckily, this is not what God actually wants for anyone.
The reality is that God made this world for us, even in it's fallen state we were always meant to enjoy it. We were also meant to focus on him, which is as much for us as it is for him. God is amazing and is always with us, he will never let you down. Really, it is only us that let him down, so what is the balance we are meant to have? The answer is to simply live Godly lives, be the example God wants you to be. In anything and everything you do, be exactly the person you know you need to be. God is the focus for me no matter where I go because I never want to disappoint him and I always want to do his work. I have given the gospel to people in every area of my life. When I am playing video games, I tell people about Jesus, the same goes for when I go to work. When I make money, I use it to provide for my family exactly as the bible tells me to do. None of these things are evil, when they are done right they are all just more tools for doing God's work and enjoying the world that God made for us in the first place.
Now there are things that we make more important than God in our lives and those things are genuine issues, but don't let anyone make you feel like a sinner for living your life. We can all do better in some way, and we should, but that should never be taken to the extent that some people take it. Enjoy your lives and do all in your power to be a true follower of Christ. Pray often, and don't change into a different person when it is convenient, always put God first and everything will be okay.
I need to talk about this because I find that people are walking around with a lot of guilt they don't deserve. When other people sin, it is not your fault.
There is a sin problem in our world, regardless of who you talk to, they are a sinner. This also means their thoughts can be sinful and you have absolutely no control over it. When they sin, even if they blame you, that does not make it your fault. While it is possible to sin ourselves by leading someone else to it, that does not apply to when you are doing nothing wrong. An example of that type of sin is drinking alcohol next to a drunk and things like that. (1 Corinthians 8:7-13) On the other hand, if you are someone dressed perfectly modest and someone chooses to lust after you, that isn't even slightly your fault. In fact, even if you dressed horribly, (as in hardly dressed at all,) and they lust, it is still their fault, not yours, because they chose to sin. You have an issue as well if you are dressing that way, but that is a separate thing to be addressed all on its own. If you're wondering if you somehow are at fault for their sin just because of your clothes, you're not. no matter what, it is still on them completely if they choose to sin. It is always a choice and we can't blame ourselves for what others do, or blame others for what we do.
I have found this is something people don't understand very well and I want everyone to really get it. There are so many women out there feeling dirty for the actions of guilty men around them when they didn't do anything wrong. There are pastors teaching that God will punish your kids for your sin despite being innocent themselves and it's just craziness to me. We are only accountable for our own sin and that isn't going to change. Don't blame yourself when someone else does something wrong, and don't hold it against them. It is alright to be upset when someone wrongs you, but always be willing to forgive them and don't let it fester and turn into something more. Like I said before, there is a sin problem in the world and people need to hear the gospel, no matter how much they wrong us. So let the blame fall where it belongs and treat them as you would anyone else, no matter how depraved they may be. (Romans 5:20-21)
Another aspect of this that needs to be talked about is the reverse of this problem; people making excuses to sin because of people around them. It does not matter if most guys have a lust issue, you do not get an excuse to lust. Just because many women have a tendency to gossip a lot, does not mean that you get to gossip just because you're a woman. I don't care how many people around you are sinning, it is not an excuse to do it yourself. I hear it far too much in the church that it is just a given you will sin a certain way just because of your surroundings. The best thing you can do for yourself and for God is to stop making excuses and be the person God wants you to be. Don't worry about what others do, don't worry about how many people tell you it isn't worth trying to change. Just do whatever God expects of you, no matter how hard it may seem, to the absolute best of your ability.
The best way I can summarize everything I tried to explain here is this; The things that other people do have no bearing on the choices you ultimately make. You are not guilty of the sin of people around you, and nothing physically forced on you can count against you as sin. At the same time, you are not excused of your actions because other people push you toward sin. We will all be held accountable for our actions in the end, and God is not going to excuse you because people told you it was okay. I hope this brings you some peace and understanding so that you can start focusing on being the best follower of Christ you can be.
Dedicated to making strong disciples of Christ.
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