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I am a new Christian but struggle with old sins. I fear I will be separated from God. I have asked the Holy Spirit to help me. What can I do?
Thank you so much for your honest question. I am glad that you are wrestling with this question rather than just letting your sin take over, and I pray that this short answer may help you in your struggle with sin.
Let me first assure you that the experience you are going through is not an uncommon one - though God often does amazing things in a person's life when they are first converted and sets them free from many sins that once plagued them, He doesn't do that for everyone, and every Christian will at some point go through deep struggles. Even the Apostle Paul (who wrote a large portion of the New Testament) says:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)
We do not do what we want, but do the things we hate! This is what you have described in yourself.
It is not a surprise that you are struggling, but know this above anything - God has the power to get you out, and is willing to walk with you through the long process of you being changed to live like Jesus in everything you do.
Let me continue by laying a foundation that will be really important to you as you go through these struggles - they in no way undermine your relationship with God, or change His love for you. Romans 5:8 says this:
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love for you doesn’t depend on how much good you have done, or how many times you may go to church, pray, or tell people about Jesus - His love is completely independent of your efforts, and so will remain unchanged whatever the struggles you go through. What that means is that you can rest in your relationship with Him even when you have your worst days - all God asks of you is that you be quick to confess your mistakes and His forgiveness and love will continue to wash over you everyday (1 John 1:5-10). In that place of stability, knowing your acceptance with Him you will be able to fight against your sin far better than if you are also struggling with insecurity and wondering if God still loves you.
Now to look at your struggle with sin, and the process of growth into being a mature and stable follower of Jesus. It would be very easy just to tell yourself to try harder and to do better at fighting sin, just as you would with any other effort for achievement in the world, and we should certainly put effort into the fight, but that isn't the focus that the Bible gives us. The Bible talks about truth being our main weapon against sin rather than will power, and Romans 6 is a primary chapter on this subject. Take a look at these words:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:3-11)
These verses are giving us some life-changing truth to cling to. Paul is teaching the church in Rome that once they have become a believer in Christ the old person they were before has died with Him on the cross, and they have been given new life, but not just any new life - a new life that is now free from sin. The chains that were once all around us binding us to our sin have gone, and we are free to walk into the holy life God has called us to. Does it take time for us to grow into that freedom? Yes it does, but that doesn’t make the freedom any less real, and Paul is telling us here that one of the biggest battles we must win is to simply believe that this is true. Look at the last verse above - Paul tells us to ‘consider’ ourselves ‘dead to sin’.
You see, if we don’t believe this truth, you can imagine what will happen - we’ll just become resigned to the fact that we will keep on sinning, and will live in a cycle of defeat. Paul wants us to know that the victory is ours if we’ll just keep walking in faith, trusting not what we can do against our sin, but trusting the work that God has done, and continues to do inside of us.
So the next time you find yourself struggling with sin, don’t just try harder to beat it yourself, but look up to Jesus, the One who has already freed you from all sin, and the One who is able to help you to stand under any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). I am certain that over time the change God has made in the depth of your heart will begin to bear fruit, and you will look back in a few years time and not be able to recognise the person you once were.
As I close, let me urge you again to make sure you are standing on the solid foundation of God’s acceptance of you because of what Jesus has done, not because of your own good works. Then, as you try to live the life God has called you to, turn your eyes on Jesus, who is the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) trusting Him to take you right to the end of your race.
I also want to encourage you to take your questions to the leaders of a church that is local to you - I’m sure they would welcome the chance to help you with these issues. If you do not know of a local church near to you, then our church finder may well be able to help you to find one, and I encourage you to do so to help in your journey with God: www.lookingforgod.com/churchfinder
Please also use our Interactive Answer Matrix and feel free to ask another question. Our helpful staff are praying for you and waiting to try and answer to you from the Bible, and will be delighted to tell you more about Jesus Christ the Lord, the Saviour of the world. www.lookingforgod.com/your-questions
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Romans 6-8
- John 8:31-36
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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