Doug was a middle-aged man with all he could ask for. He had a wonderful wife, three charming kids, and a solid job. He was a regular attender of church services and served on a few boards. The congregation knew him as a backbone of many projects and plans. If you needed someone, whether it was to fix your car or give you emotional support, Doug was your man. But Doug struggled with lust. He had a wandering eye. He knew it was wrong–he had a wife! No matter how hard he tried, he kept on feeling more and more guilty…
Katherine was a high honors college student, on her way to becoming valedictorian. She participated in two sports and volunteered her free time in a program to help those with special needs. She was by no means the most popular girl in the class, but everyone who spent time with her enjoyed her company. But Katherine struggled with porn. Sure, she kept it a secret, and that made it even worse. She felt like a fraud, because she looked so good on the outside but was filthy on the inside…
Stephen was the oldest member in his congregation. He was of a good age of seventy-eight, and was still blessed with excellent health–never been hospitalized in his life. He was everyone’s grandpa. That’s just what his personality was made for. But he was haunted by the one night back in high school when he and a girl took it a little too far…
Now, go back and consider those situations again. What if those stories weren’t about Doug, Katherine or Stephen….but about you?
Maybe those stories aren’t exactly your story, but if you’re someone who has ever struggled with sexual sin, you can relate, can’t you? You feel the emotions, the guilt, the loneliness, the darkness. You are the one who struggles with lust. You are the one who can’t escape porn. You are the unmarried one who had sex that one night. You are.
Do you ever feel like David did when Nathan confronted him about his sin? David, the one after God’s own heart, lusted after Bathsheba, took her just to satisfy his sexual desire, and then tried all he could to keep it secret. The great king of Israel fell so low to become an adulterer, murderer, and liar. God sent Nathan to David, and after his story about the king, the poor man and his lamb, Nathan cried out to David, “You are the man!” (II Samuel 12:7). Immediately, he had a guilt-ridden conscience. Read Psalm 32 and you may see that in a few verses. Do you ever sense that accusing finger of God’s law pointed right at you like Nathan’s finger was pointed at David?
The Law completely destroys you. The Gospel builds you back up.
The Law completely destroys you. The Gospel builds you back up. Just like David, you confess, “I have sinned against the Lord” (II Samuel 12:13). And what Nathan said to David is just as true for you: “The Lord has taken away your sin.” God’s promise rings in the guilty heart: “he forgives wickedness and remembers sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). That’s what he promised. That’s why Christ suffered and died. To forgive your sin. To pay for it. To make you holy in God’s eyes.
That sin has been wiped completely away. It’s gone. But the consequences still linger–King David experienced that, too. He was graciously forgiven but that son born from his selfish sexual act died. I’m not in the position to break down all the things that still linger from your sin. I don’t know what they are. You might. But I am in the position to tell you that Christ has paid the price for your sin.
You were dead in your sin. You used to live in the ways of the world. You gratified the thoughts and desires of your sinful nature. You were by nature an object of God’s wrath. But because of his great love with which he loved us, God, rich in mercy, made you alive in Christ when you were dead in your sin. By grace you have been saved. You were dead. But now, you are alive. (Ephesians 2)
You are the one who is forgiven. I am the one who is forgiven. God’s love is great! The consequences of sin still linger in this world, but the ultimate punishment has been absorbed by God in Jesus.
In God’s eyes, your story isn’t a story of sexual sin, but of righteousness.
In God’s eyes, your story isn’t a story of sexual sin, but of righteousness. You are his loved son or daughter. So, count yourself differently.
Romans 6:10–11 says, “The death [Jesus] died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
To “count yourselves” means to think about yourselves differently than what appears to be true on the outside. The consequences of sin say something, but that’s not who you are in Christ.
Be who he has made you to be!
Nathaniel Brauer is a first-year student at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary.