Religious people often live in this cycle of sinning, feeling distant from God, getting depressed, trying to repent, feeling better about themselves…
and then sinning again.
It’s the most unfortunate thing. I believe it is what makes so many people give up on their faith or find spirituality unappealing in the first place. And the whole cycle is totally unnecessary.
True Christianity wasn’t supposed to be centered on our relationship with sin. It was always about Jesus, the Person of the Godhead who proved the Lord is loyal to us. He’s not intimidated by our sin.
Jesus exposed the fallacy of the idea that our sin separates us from God when Christ — who is fully God — came and lived with sinners. Then He died on the Cross, not just “for” our sins, but according to 2 Corinthians 5:21 He actually “became” sin itself.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV)
God-in-the-flesh became sin, and He didn’t stop having a divine identity because of it. Further, the Father did not separate His Presence from the Son here because of the sin He was carrying to the Cross. Rather, the Trinity stayed fully intact. Second Corinthians 5:19 tells us, “in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” God was “in Christ,” even when the perfect Son assumed our sinful identity. The Lord was not letting sin(s) stop Him from being radical, loyal, Love — even in that most shameful of moments.
God never withdraws.
This ruins the idea that we need to somehow do anything ourselves to get back on God’s good side when we fail. God is always on our side, even when we are not on His. We don’t have to climb back into His manifest Presence somehow. The Manifest God already came down and got into our presence.
The Manifest God already came down and got into OUR presence.
When I sin these days, I am careful with how I go about the “repentance” process. I might say some kind of heartfelt apology, but not because I worship the kind of Father who withholds forgiveness until I admit my failure. He teaches me to love more unconditionally than that, as a reflection of how He has loved me (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:23). Besides, I know that our relationship is not based upon me getting it right in the first place.
When I repent, I express to God that I care about His feelings, and I move straight to discussing with Him how I might find ways to change the thought-patterns that led to the bad decision I made in the first place. I don’t question whether or not God is still with me and for me, in any sense, for any amount of time.
Don’t let yourself come under any kind of shame in the name of practicing “humility” and “repentance.” It will only slow you down in really growing and maturing. Plus, it can keep you from fully enjoying the grace God gave so freely to us already — grace that we are qualified to likewise share with others freely.
In other words, guard yourself from trying to get back into union with God. Jesus already did that for you. Any efforts on our part to repeat that Finished Work will only lead to an endless cycle of regret.
For your own good — don’t waste your time on that.