Have you ever felt so guilty that you question if God even wants you around anymore? It’s a common trap to fall into, but it is one that we must combat.
In our sin, guilt overwhelms us and causes us to hide due to shame. We realize convincingly that we possess a soul when regret rears its uninvited head into our consciousness. While we can grow accustomed and unbothered by it, initially, shame has a way of sounding the alarm off when we have gone too far and broken God’s commandments.
Adam and Eve knew they had sinned. It was apparent in the way that they handled God and each other. Originally, they walked exposed physically and unguarded relationally, but after they had sinned, they sought to distance themselves from the relationships that benefitted them greatly.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.Genesis 3:8
Unlike before, they did not gleefully approach their Maker, but they now sought to avoid Him at all costs. To be found in their condition would reveal something was wrong. They were fearful of facing Him because they were convinced He would know. He knew them too well not to know.
After Adam and Eve sinned, it was the first time they retreated from God. Whenever they would hear the footsteps of God before, they eagerly received Him. Running toward their Father, they would share the newly named creature or brag on the recently sampled fruit, but this time felt different. They were different. That familiar sound created an unfamiliar reaction.
They ran from God rather than running toward God.
In condemnation, the same sound caused fear, not because God changed, but because they had. This reaction is the unavoidable reality for those who know God. Sin changes us. It distorts our desires. It shifts our priorities. It alters our appetites. They were different, and they were unsure how to be around Him any longer.
Unconfessed sin causes us to drift away from God. Our disobedience puts us on the run.
- You notice the awkwardness when you try to sing in church.
- You feel numb spiritually because of what you have done physically.
- You cringe when someone brags about your polished reputation because you know the real truth.
We often think that sin separates us from God at the moment. While it definitely does, we need to recognize that a longer strategy exists with deeper implications. Sin is present disobedience, but it can cause long-term estrangement. You begin to think that due to your sin, God doesn’t desire your presence. You believe Him to be sick and tired of you, and you don’t want to force awkward encounters due to the assumption that He’s simply fed up with you. The more that the enemy can get you to believe that God dislikes you, the less you will seek reconciliation, and the greater the chasm increases.
The sin isn’t the endgame. The separation is.
Shame has a way of separating you from God in a way that few other possibilities could rival.
If you think that God is fed up with you due to your sin, you can identify with why Adam and Even went on the run. But if you actually do resonate with their story, have you ever considered how they encountered God again? If they were running to hide from God, what caused the reconnect? It was because they couldn’t outrun God.
While sin caused them to retreat, God continued to pursue.
Maybe you have bought the lie that your sin has made you reprehensible before God, but that would mean that your sin has surprised Him. When Jesus declared on the cross that “it is finished,” all of your sins were still in the future. You will not out-sin His grace. You will not cause Him to go into a sense of panicked shock due to any rebellion. Even as you have run away, He’s faster and more determined than you will ever be.
When you sin, don’t retreat further from the one who can help you. Don’t let guilt cause a greater separation.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.