Scripture tells us in Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Although many of us strive for holiness, we recognize that daily, we fail to think and live in ways that honor the Lord and bring Him glory. I think of those roller coaster rides at theme parks. There is always a visual height limit for who can ride the ride. Sure enough, without fail, someone is always trying to get by or get their child by to ride with them. However, no matter how thick the shoes are or how persuasive the parent, the kid falls short. There is nothing he can do to ride the ride, but simply wait and grow a few inches only to return and ride later. In a similar way, there is nothing that we can do to be perfect. We have all already sinned. We have gone away from God’s best. We fall short. Today, we will uncover four ways to learn from our mistakes.
1. Recognize Your Sin
Before we can ever attempt to learn from our mistakes, we must be aware that we made them. Just like a little boy who realizes he falls short of the roller coaster now knows he cannot ride the ride, when we realized we are sinners, we realize that we cannot stand before our Holy God. We need Jesus.
This is why I love Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse does not say while we were perfect or even while we were trying but while we were still sinners. Jesus came and died on our behalf not by our earning, but out of His great love and mercy. We deserved death, but He gave us life.
The Bible gives us great hope that God does forgive us through Jesus. We are called to admit our sins and to be purified from them. John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I know that I am as stubborn as any. I cannot stand being wrong, however, I am wrong every day. I sin every day of my life. I am humbled in the fact that I do not meet the standard of perfection. However, it is in the brokenness of my sin that I see the beauty of His grace. Where our sins are great, His grace is greater. (Romans 5:20-21)
How do we recognize our sin? King David was a man after God’s heart; yet he lusted, committed adultery, murdered, and lied. In Psalm 139:23-24 He prayed a genuine prayer, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We can recognize our sin like David by simply taking time to ask the Holy Spirit inside of us to test us and to reveal anything that is a sin to help us get on the path that He has for us.
2. Discover Your Patterns and Set Up Stronger Boundaries
When we are aware of our weaknesses, we are able to know how to be stronger against them. Just like for anything else, we want to get to the root of our issues. This means that establishing stronger boundaries will help us.
First: Think about your sin patterns. What is your heart/motivation for choosing to act, say, or live in this way?
Second: Think about what your triggers are for temptation? How can you establish better parameters to avoid sin?
Third: Get accountability from a friend or mentor. This means simply having them check in on you or create a system of confession so that you can be held responsible for your sin issues.
Many times, people will use the excuse to put themselves in tempting situations. They might use 1 Corinthians 10:13 to support them which says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Although this is an incredible promise, I personally learned that in times of temptation God will provide a way of escape, but I am unlikely to take it at the moment. We can learn to outsmart the enemy by preventing ourselves from even being in sinful scenarios. We can also memorize scriptures to help us during our struggles.
3. Learn with Grace
So many times, we sin and are unaware of it. Maybe you have become mindful of a sin struggle in your life that is new in this season or one you never realized was a sin. This is great because it shows the conviction of the Holy Spirit and affirms Christ’s work in your life. Take this as an opportunity to learn with grace.
This means giving yourself the grace to learn and grow in areas that you may have even been unaware were defined as sinful. Sin is nothing to joke about, it is hurtful to God, and He desires the best for us. The Lord only ever gives a command if it has a purpose and is ultimately for our own benefit and His honor. When we learn of sin in our lives, it can be easy to live in a pity party or a mindset of despair and shame. I love a saying I heard a few years ago, “The Holy Spirit convicts, but never condemns.”
Romans 8:1-2 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, then we have no condemnation. Christ has rescued us from the grip of sin and eternal death. We are not condemned when we sin, because our sins have been paid for by the blood of Jesus. However, we can be convicted by the Spirit within us when we are living outside of God’s will.
4. Hear the Testimonies of Others
Another powerful way to learn from our own mistakes is to listen to the freedom stories from other believers who God has rescued out of their own sin. If we come across someone who deals with the same sin, we can find encouragement on our own journeys to live in freedom and find hope from them. Take time to sit down with someone who has overcome a sin you deal with or who at least is running towards Christ with all their might in the battle. Learn what has worked well for them and try implementing their wisdom within your own life.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
No matter where you are in your journey through a sinful habit or decision, look to Christ. He loves you the same. While you and I were still sinners, He died for us. God does not expect perfection, He knows we are sinful people. However, the defeat of death by His only Son Jesus leads us to freedom now and forevermore. With help from the Holy Spirit and Christian community, we can recognize sin, discover our patterns, set up boundaries, learn with grace, and grow from the testimonies of other believers. We are all a work in progress, and His grace meets us here.