One of the keys to the Christian life is found in learning to tell the difference between what we need to repent of and what we need to be healed from. Every one of us is both sinful and wounded. God's solution to one problem is not the same as His solution to the other, though Christ is the source of both remedies. Too often believers try to repent from something they struggle with when the answer is God's healing touch. Conversely, Christians sometimes need to repent of some sin that they have passed off as an affliction they are not responsible for. Only by pursuing the discernment that the Lord wants to progressively build into maturing believers can we come to know which is which and act accordingly.
Sin is endemic to humanity. No matter how downtrodden a person has been in life, no matter how legitimately that person might be called a victim, the fact remains that he or she is still a sinner. Contrary to the common assumption of our "I'm OK, you're OK" culture, we are born neither good nor morally neutral. The Bible (and, if we are truthful, our own experience) tells us that we are conceived in sin and, apart from the blood of Christ in our lives, we are all rightfully condemned by our very nature. This is true both in the involuntary and voluntary sense. Human beings sin both because we are sinners and because we will to keep sinning.
All of us must come to conscious repentance for our rebellion against our Creator. This is true at the beginning of the Christian life as well as in a progressive sense. Repentance is both a one-time event and a continuing one. Even after salvation we are still told to confess our sins to God and each other and to have an attitude open to the ongoing cleansing from sin that should take place throughout our lives. This cleansing can only take place with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and we must co-operate with Him.
That said the truth remains that even with continuing repentance there are some afflictions of the soul that are there because we have been undeservedly hurt. When an adult dog that was constantly beaten as a puppy flinches at any sudden movement by a human, we do not blame the dog for being so sensitive. The animal needs to be shown love over a long period in order to be healed from the fear engendered by its earlier experience. In fact, the dog may never be able to completely lose that tendency, but a good owner will love and bear with it anyway. How much more does God have mercy on His children who have been abused through no fault of their own? For such a one His desire is for healing, not repentance.
How then do we begin to learn to know the difference between sins we must forsake and injuries we need to be healed from? For one, we can ask God to show us which is which through the prompting of His Spirit. When we are not sure about a specific issue we can pray to be shown the truth. Our fellow believers are another source of help in effectively discerning if something is sin or affliction. Often, someone who knows us well but has some distance from our own subjectivity can accurately identify what we are dealing with. If both the impressions of the Spirit and the perception of others harmonize with God's Word, we can safely rely on the conclusions they give and act accordingly.
Our God is not a God of confusion. His desire is that we discover what we are dealing with and come to Him for the solution. Whether we are in need of forgiveness or mending the blood of Christ is that solution, for by His death in our place we are forgiven and by His stripes we are healed.
© Shea Oakley. All Rights Reserved.
Converted from atheism in 1990, Shea Oakley has written over 350 articles for electronic and print publications since 2002, including Disciple Magazine (and Pulpit Helps Magazine),The Christian Herald, The Christian Post, Christian Network and Crosshome.com. In 2003 he graduated from Alliance Theological Seminary with a Certificate of Theological Studies. Shea and his wife Kathleen make their home in West Milford, New Jersey.
Comments Click to Comment