How to Overcome Sexual Sin?
If you’re anything like me, when you make a mistake, the first thing you do is try to make it right. Maybe you did this as a kid. You hurt one of your friends or younger siblings, and rather than let them get you in trouble, you offered them a deal, “Don’t tell mom. Here, punch me back, pay me back.” And then once they took their retribution, you made sure to over embellish how bad it actually hurt to ensure you would be dept free.
Psalm 51 does not start that way. If you do anything other than pray to God after you sin sexually, you are relying on something other than the power of God for your freedom. If you try and make it right by doing something good because you are seeking to make up for something you did bad, you are relying on your works rather than God’s grace.
David doesn’t make promises to God or try to cut a deal to pay for his sexual sin. Instead he turns to God in prayer.
Overcoming Sexual Sin Starts With Forgiveness: “Have mercy on me, O God”
“Have mercy on me, O God . . . .” David starts where we must all start if we hope to overcome sexual sin. David is repenting, which means he is seeking to drive the other direction from his sin. He wants his life to change. He never wants to sin like this again. Therefore, David starts this transformation by dealing with his past mistakes.
You will never be able to live free from sexual sin until you have first been forgiven. Sexual sin is bondage. It causes us to owe a debt we cannot pay. Sexual sin brings immense shame, and it ruins our future if the sins of the past are not dealt with first. A lack of feeling forgiven only perpetuates the deadly, endless cycle of sexual sin patterns: You feel horrible because of your sexual sin, but you are drawn to sexual sin because you feel horrible. To break the cycle, like David, we need to start with forgiveness.
You won’t ever be forgiven and thus freed from sexual sin by first overcoming it. Rather, you will only overcome sexual sin once you are forgiven and thus freed. Freedom doesn’t lead to forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to freedom. To overcome sexual sin in the future, Psalm 51:1-2 shows us that we must first be forgiven and set free from the sexual sins of our past.
The problem with this is that many of us won’t trust God’s forgiveness. After all, you’ve tried this before. This probably isn’t the first time you’ve asked God to forgive you. It’s hard to receive forgiveness when you have to ask again and again for the same problem over and over. We feel we’ve asked too many times, we’ve made too many broken promises, and therefore we’ve concluded our sexual sin is just too much.
It would be too much if God’s love and forgiveness was based in us. Thankfully, it most definitely is not.
How to Overcome Sexual Sin? God’s Scandalous Grace Is Rooted in God
David starts down the road of repentance the way everyone should. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy” basically summarizes all of Christianity. David is basically saying, “Give to me what only you have, and what I don’t deserve.” Overcoming sexual sin always starts with asking for that which you don’t deserve from the only One able to give it.
“Have mercy on me.” Why? “Because of your unfailing love.” “Blot out my transgressions.” Why? “Because of your great compassion.” What’s David doing here? David is appealing to the loving nature of God. David knows that when it comes to rights, things deserved, things earned, and things owed by God, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.
David knows that his only chance before God is God. He knows that if ever God is going to forgive him, it is going to be because of the loving, forgiving nature of God, not because of something David might do or say.
David’s not appealing to this past exploits. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to the time I struck down Goliath. Blot out my transgressions with Bathsheba according to all the times I didn’t commit adultery and murder someone’s husband. According to the temple I’m going to help my son Solomon build for you, cleanse me from my sin.”
No, David knows that if he is going to have any chance with God, it is going to be on God’s terms, because of God’s grace, because God has it within himself to forgive. No deals, no bargains, no convincing . . . just straight, hardcore grace.
How to Overcome Sexual Sin? God Doesn’t Love Us Because of What We Do. He Loves Us Because of Who He Is
One of the most important principles you could ever know about the love God is this: God doesn’t love you because of what you do. God loves you because of who he is. 1 John 4:16 states, “God is love.” Romans 5:8 explains, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God can love us even when we are his enemies because his love isn’t based in us at all. It’s based in him. God is the reason for God’s unfailing love, not you or me or anything we did or didn’t do. You can’t lose the love of God because you never did anything to receive it in the first place. You can’t let the love of God down because you were never holding it up.
Of course God hates our sin, but he doesn’t hate us because we sin, just like he doesn’t love us because we don’t sin. You could never earn the love of God or lose the love of God because God’s love is totally, unequivocally, absolutely, 100 percent based within himself because of who he is. It saves you, benefits you, but it does not nor will it ever originate with you. His love is a consuming fire that devours all that comes in its path, but it is fueled by God and God alone.
Our salvation was never based upon our lack of sin. Rather, our salvation is based upon the price paid by our Savior and the awesome power of our God. So no matter how miserably we fail, we can come back to God through Christ.
Jesus is our Savior because he has the power to save. Our worth, our forgiveness, our cleansing, our sanctification, our justification, and our eternal glorification in the age to come are because of Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. God is God with or without us; therefore he alone can handle our deepest failures and faults.
God only blots out our sin through the blood of Christ (John 14:6). If you have a great dept you cannot pay, you better have some rich friends. If you don’t think God can handle you and your sinful past, present, and future, your view of God is too small. Our God is larger and has more “steadfast love” and “abundant mercy” than you or I will ever know. But what we do know can be seen most clearly in Christ.
To live free and overcome sexual sin, we must look to Christ in all things.