I’ve been reading a memoir of John Bunyan. He was a great sinner before he found grace and had many struggles as a Christian because of it. I’ve found a few parallels to his and my own testimony and have been very taken in by the story of his life. As I was reading, I ran across this line, and it seemed to me to sum it all up nicely: “Satan is loath to part with a great sinner.”
Sinners Vs A Great Sinner
Everyone sins, but if you have a history of being a great sinner, then this line probably resonates with you as well. When I was a teenager, I had very rebellious inclinations. I was taught about God, the new birth and God’s grace. I believed it all, but my carnal desires were tremendous. The outcome of the conflict in my soul was that I decided to cave to my carnal desires until I had my fill of them. I could always turn to God for grace and forgiveness later If I so desired. I’d heard testimonies of people getting into deep sin and finding freedom when they repented.
I supposed I might one day be one of those people. I didn’t know for sure and didn’t really care. And frankly it didn’t matter at the time. All I knew was I couldn’t possibly deny my sinful desires even if I wanted to. At least not on my own strength. So a few years of heavy rebellion against God, and the religious system I grew up in, ensued. I denied myself nothing I wanted to do. I’ve gone into detail in other blog posts about my past and I don’t think it bears reiteration. The only point is, I walked in deep sin for several years until I reached a point where I, indeed, had my fill of it.
Not As Easy As I Had Supposed
But what then? I was in chains. I had mental and emotional issues. And too much pride to want to return to religion as a means of escape. But my misery became greater than my pride and I timidly approached the throne of grace. God was very merciful and met me there. But it was not at all as I had imagined it would be when I started out on my rebellious journey. My pain, misery, bitterness and chains did not vanish overnight.
God only took as much as I gave Him, which wasn’t very much at first. It seemed as if the enemy had taken advantage of every minute of my time in rebellion to fortify against every touch of God after my conversion. Yes, God was more than able to remove everything in a moment’s time, but He didn’t. He did it by seasons. And through agonizing trials and humbling circumstances.
Suffering In This Life
So it seems I must not pay for my sins in the next life, but God saw fit that I did in this life. Perhaps because He knew that if I didn’t see some tangible results of my rebellion, I would be quick to return to it after gaining freedom. Also perhaps it had something to do with the fact that I went into rebellion in a premeditated way—knowing I would probably tire of sin and turn to God. And though God’s grace is infinite, He is not our doormat, and He is not mocked or manipulated.
So is there hope for a great sinner? Absolutely. And perhaps some won’t have the experience I had and will have complete freedom the first day they come to Jesus. However, to those reading this who are at a fork in the road and are faced with going into sin majorly or turning to Jesus, I encourage you to take the narrow road early on. You will save yourself a lot of grief. Some never make it to Jesus after all, though they intend to do so at some point.
To those who have already taken the route to deep sin entanglements, there is certainly hope in Christ Jesus. I am living proof. But it may take a deeper walk to get you to spiritual safety. A deeper walk with Jesus is never a bad thing, so take heart. All the suffering is worth it. It is light suffering after all compared to our future glory. And also light in comparison to an eternity in hell.
So no matter where you may find yourself, the answer is, surrender to Jesus! It will only get worse on the path of sin, and will ultimately get better on the path of righteousness.