When sin becomes so tempting that we are frustrated about not being able to do it because we are Christians, it’s often a sign that we forgot that God’s greatest desire is to be in a relationship with us.
In the Old Testament, when a person transgressed a law of God, when they sinned, they had to go before the priests and offer a sacrifice to be forgiven. But did the Israelites really understand what was really important in this equation? Did they see the sacrifice as a means of paying for their sin, or as a means to be reconciled with God? That is because what God really wants is a relationship with all of us. Sin brings a separation between us and God (Romans 3:23). So God has provided a way to eliminate sin so that we can restore that relationship (John 14:6). If today we see sin as tempting, as being a frustration of our flesh, it is because we have forgotten that this sin separates us from God. Jesus came to die on the cross to allow us to reconcile with God (Ephesians 2:1-7).
In a way, it’s like what God said when King Saul sinned. “Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams”” (1 Samuel 15:22 NASB). The prophet Hosea also said the same thing. “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NASB). Sacrifice is important only if we see it as our way of restoring our relationship with God.
The question then becomes: do we really want a relationship with God?
It is a principle that also applies in relationships with our brothers and sisters, and eventually with our life partner. When there is an argument, should we offer a gift to clear our fault, or should we offer a gift to restore our relationship? The difference lies between apologizing and asking for forgiveness. When we apologize, we recognize our fault, and this is often an essential first step in restoring a relationship. But when we ask for forgiveness, not only we recognize our fault, but we also ask the other person to clear our offense so that reconciliation might be possible. Excuses save ourselves, forgiveness tries to save the relationship. (The reconciliation is in the hands of the offended person.)
Talking about that, the time of praise we often have at the beginning of Sunday morning services is another way of getting back in a relationship with God. Music is not there as an artistic prelude to the preaching! It is a time during which you offer a sacrifice of praise, that you offer your voice, your breath, to compliment God. It’s one of the most beautiful romantic moments you have with God. If someone arrives late for worship and begins talking to their neighbor instead of focusing on God, they show a profound lack of respect for God. They may have lost the desire to be in relationship with God. Our Father does not need our beautiful voice and our great musical arrangements: He has angels singing for Him constantly in heaven. He needs our heart; He longs passionately for a relationship with each one of us. Do you hear God calling you, do you feel His deep desire to hug you in His arms of love?
Some Christians have forgotten the desire of God to have a relationship with them, and they have fallen into a vain religion. However, other Christians feel this desire for a relationship, but they feel so unworthy and guilty that they prefer to stay at a distance. They know that God does not love this sin, that it hurts Him every time, and yet they fall again and again into that same sin. They have apologized many times, but now, they feel guilty for doing it again, so they stay hidden, silent, or do all kinds of good works to try to be forgiven. Despite this, they still feel guilty. The reason they live with guilt is that they have also forgotten that God still desires a relationship with them. Yes, He was hurt by this sin and hurt again and again every time you did it. But despite that, He wants to restore the relationship, He loves you and all He wants is to have a relationship with you. Instead of focusing on changing your bad habit, start focusing on valuing your relationship with God.
When fatigue comes and you are tempted to yield to your flesh, think about your relationship with God. Go rest on His shoulder: He wants to be part of the solution, He wants to support you, He wants to bring you rest. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB). All that God has done, from the creation of the world to the sacrifice of His Son, He has done it to be in a relationship with you. He does not want your works, your sacrifices… He wants you. “He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”” (Hebrews 4:7 NASB).