Every man knows the experience of guilt and shame from sexual sin. Whether it’s the frustration of continued thoughts you think you can’t control, falling victim to the lure of pornography, committing acts of sexual immorality, or dealing with urges that feel unnatural—no man is exempt from the lusts of the flesh and the damage they do.
We sin, and then we are convicted of that sin in our hearts, as we should be. In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul reminds us, “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price” (vv.19-20). But when we forget who we are in Christ Jesus, we turn away from Him because we feel guilt and shame, rather than turning toward Him in repentance. Then, because we don’t know how to handle our guilt and shame, we feel powerless, plunging deeper and deeper into the pit.
The cycle is vicious, relentless. We don’t know where to turn. Telling friends doesn’t seem like an option because the shame is too much to bear. Talking to a pastor feels ridiculous because we imagine he surely doesn’t know what it’s like to deal with these sins, let alone the guilt and shame that seem to render prayer impossible.
But men, there is good news for you today. Jesus died for you. He didn’t just give Himself up for your “respectable” sins. He died, bearing the guilt and shame for the things you don’t want anyone else to know about. Cleansing, healing, forgiveness, and restoration are all possible for you because of your Savior who loves you.
In addition, this good news has the resources to help you experience real change and victory over your sin. Again, in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul walks through a laundry list of sins that make one unfit for the kingdom, and it includes many of our pet sins and temptations. We read this list and surely hear that we will not inherit the kingdom. But Paul’s next sentences should make our hearts sing: “And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v.11).
Did you catch the past tense in those verses? Christian, you are no longer defined by your struggles, failures, and shame. You are defined by the new identity you have in Christ. You have been declared righteous before God, you have been cleansed by God, and you have been set apart from your sins by God the Father, in the name of His Son, by the power of the Spirit. You are new.
These commands never changed one heart, and they won’t give you victory over your hidden sins—but the gospel will. In Christ, you are clean. In Christ, you are new. In Christ, you are empowered by the Spirit. In Christ, you have brothers who will help you in your faith journey. These are the words you need. They are true and they bring real life, real change, and real joy.
Written by Scott Slayton