We all know that God is holy, that He can’t look on sin, that sin separates us from God. But have you ever contemplated how sin can actually draw you closer to God?
Yes. I believe with all my heart that we can sin, and it can be a springboard to a deeper relationship with our Savior.
Let me tell you my own story. I was always the good little girl. I spent my entire life seeking God, walking in fellowship with Him. I gave my life to full-time ministry at the age of ten and never strayed from that calling. I was a good little Southern Baptist girl—you know the ones who didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t go with guys who did. And, we didn’t even dance (an occasional function when I got to a Baptist college, but we had to keep one foot on the ground at all times). I was the perfect goody-goody.
Then, my life fell apart. I found myself heartbroken over my impending divorce. I was scared as I walked into the realm of single motherhood. I was financially devastated. Every ounce of security had been ripped away from me.
In waltzed my prince—an incredibly funny, attractive, successful man. In my hurt and pain, it felt so good to be told I was beautiful. In my rejection, it felt so good to feel wanted. In my financial devastation, it felt so good to have someone who could offer stability. In my anger, I wanted nothing to do with God—but it felt oh so good to be loved by a man!
As I straddled the fence on the Christian life, I knew that I was turning my back on God. The more I turned my back on God, the more I felt Him calling me back to Him. The more I looked for security in a human relationship, the more I heard Him telling me to get my security from Him. The more I ran away from God, the harder He seemed to pursue me. God was relentlessly running after me, begging me to come home to Him.
When I finally surrendered to His pursuit, I found the arms of my Father open wide, welcoming me home. I was the prodigal daughter who had finally come to her senses, returning to the One who loved me. I was no longer feeding on scraps with the pigs; I was going to be able to eat at the table of the King as a most loved princess!
It was at that moment that I realized who I am: I am a child of the One True King!
I don’t think I had ever before recognized my true identity. I don’t think I realized how powerful a grip my Savior had on me. I don’t think I realized how firm a foundation I had until that moment. For the first time, I realized that my life is built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. I simply don’t have the ability to move away from that foundation!
But, there was so much more that I found because I walked away from my Savior’s path for my life.
I need His forgiveness. Because I had lived such a “good” life, I’m not sure I ever really recognized my need for forgiveness. Yes, intellectually I knew that I was a sinner and accepted that as fact. But, my minor indiscretions over the years gave me a pride that caused me to see myself in comparison to others—not God.
When I chose to run away from God, I came face-to-face with my capacity for sin. I suddenly recognized that the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). I realized that I wasn’t as strong as I thought—that it was only through God that I could resist temptation.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13
I no longer have only an intellectual understanding of my need for my Savior; I now have a complete understanding of who I am without Him—and it’s not pretty!
He loves me and pursues me relentlessly. The sweetest memories I have of my Savior are from the time I was running from Him, determined that I would live life on my terms since His way didn’t work out so well for me. You see, God was jealous of my divided affections. He wasn’t satisfied to let me straddle the fence, to be a part-time Christian. He wanted every part of me!
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!
I’ve always heard the parable of the lost sheep, but I suddenly found myself the one—the one who had wandered from the flock and was in need of having my shepherd come looking for me. And He did! He left the faithful ones and sought me out. He gently called my name, trusting that I would recognize His voice. He called out to me to return to Him so that He could watch over me and keep me from the dangers lurking all around.
His comforting voice was more than I could resist, and I found myself drawn back to the flock where He could bandage my wounds and nurse me back to health. I’ve never regretted my return!
God uses my sins to encourage others. So many people give in to the lies of Satan, the accuser of the brethren. They believe that their sins have disqualified them from serving God, that they are too far gone to ever be used by Him. But, with very few exceptions, most of the people in the Great Hall of Fame of Faith (Hebrews 11) were horrible sinners! Noah got drunk. Abraham was a liar. Moses had a temper. Rahab was a prostitute. David was an adulterer and a murderer.
And yet, Noah was the only righteous one found on earth. Abraham was called God’s friend (James 1:23). Moses was chosen to lead God’s people. Rahab the prostitute was in the lineage of Jesus Christ himself (Matthew 1:5). David was a man after God’s own heart.
Their sins did not disqualify them from the kingdom. Their sins caused them to look deeply within, to see the ugliness within, to recognize their need for their Savior. They repented of their sins and turned back to their Savior, allowing God to take the ugliness of their sins and redeem it for His glory. They were far from perfect, but their hearts were fully devoted to God.
His love for me during that time has propelled me to seek Him more, to walk more closely with Him than ever before. Because of His tender mercies toward me, I have a stronger desire to give Him every part of my heart. My desire for purity of heart, mind, and body are stronger than ever. And, because I recognize how weak-willed I am on my own, I am far more dependent upon my Savior. I recognize that the only way to be absolutely certain I won’t fall is to avoid situations that would tempt me to compromise. I realize that I must keep my guard up at all times or I will fall.
Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He would have you believe that your sins are too great, that they have permanently affected your ability to be used by God. But your Great Shepherd is calling you home, gently convicting you of your sin so that you will choose to return to Him. He promises that if you do, He will heal your wounds. He will be your protector. He will even use your sins to draw you closer to Him. Then, you can use those same sins to be a witness to the grace and mercy of a Savior who loves you deeply!