Separation from Sin
Seeing Ourselves the Way God Sees Us: Lesson 5
In the previous lesson, Kingdoms in Conflict, we studied the rebel army and saw how its members work to bring us into agreement with their false world view and participate in their sinful rebellion. Since sin is so intimately connected with so much that we may say or do, including our emotional life, it is very easy to fall into the snare of looking at ourselves and others, seeing the sins and going into judgment.
How does God keep His own great Heart clear of holding sins against us? If we can see from His perspective, we will see the way for our own hearts to live free of holding judgments. We have already seen that the Father's glory is His mercy and that He doesn't count our sins against us.[i] Now let us see the way that God sees us.
God Sees Us Differently Than We Do
Our loving Father actually sees us as separate from our sins.[ii] This is due to the great act of deliverance He accomplished for us when we were born again - He justified us freely in the Beloved giving us an entirely new righteous status based upon Jesus' death for our sins.[iii]
We asked Him to separate us from our sins and He did! He can see sin in us all day long and still see the person we are as separate from those sins - even sins of attitude and emotion, even the desire to sin that dwells so powerfully in us at times.Just consider what Paul is seeking to express:
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. Romans 7:16-20 ESV
Whenever scripture, like a parent, repeats something, we need to pay attention. Paul states it twice: "It is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me." This is not Flip Wilson saying, "The devil made me do it."
We are not being asked to abandon our responsibility for sin being in us, but we are being shown from heaven's perspective that we are not our sins, no living human is. The enemy and his kingdom have indeed become their sins, with no possibility of (or desire for) repentance and separation from them.
Tragically those who never repent, the unredeemed who die in their sins, cannot be separated from them and end by being made one with their sins in hell. They actually become beings of sin. But we can be separated from our sins and can repent.
The very fact that we repent of sin shows that it is a foreign invader in our lives - it is not who we really are. Never bind anyone to their sins. Right up to the moment of death it is possible for absolutely anyone to seek God for mercy and be set free from indwelling sin.
God has perfect vision. He can see every moment in time at all times. He is able to look upon us and always keep in mind three things about us:
1) The unseen past - who He created us to be.
2) The veiled future - who we will be in heaven.
3) The hidden present - who we really are even now deep down in Christ.
He fashioned us in our mother's womb and He knew us before time began.[iv] Since He is not the author of sin in us, His perfect vision still holds the image of who we really are before the fallen nature got attached to us and before generational sins or our own wrong choices began to have their effect.
Not only that, but our Redeemer has 20/20 future vision and can always see who we are being redeemed to become as He draws us out of darkness into His light through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and our own belief in the truth.[v] But His vision extends beyond the past and our future; it sees deep within that there is a New Creation in us. He knows (and wants us to know) that this is who we really are now despite any stubborn, temporary agreements we may have with sin.
We are not the old nature, we are not our sins and we are not our negative emotions. We are a New Creation!
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP
Why Is This So Hard to Get?
Simply put, the way we habitually see ourselves doesn't match up with the way God sees us. Throughout the creation process, God declared that everything He was making was good. With Adam, however, God went even further. He said that Adam was "very good."[vi] Keep this well in mind: All that God put into you is very good: your mind, your heart, your body, your renewed spirit. You are very good! However, when we allow sin to encroach upon our thoughts, words and deeds we are bringing in a foreign element, something God never put into us when He created us in our mother's womb.
Three times in scripture we are shown how the Lord sees us as separate from the sin that dwells in us. The first was God questioning Adam about who he was "listening" to in the Garden.[vii] The second time was Jesus rebuking Satan from speaking through Peter.[viii] The third time came when Jesus rebuked the "sons of thunder" for wanting to call fire down on a village that had rejected Him.
But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'And he said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.' He said, 'Who told you that you were naked?" Genesis 3:9-11 ESV
But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.' Matthew 16:23 ESV
But he turned and rebuked them, 'You don't know of what kind of spirit you are." Luke 9:55 WEB
Like Adam and Peter, James and John, we may not even be aware that some of our "best" thinking is actually coming from the enemy - disguised as our own ideas and reasoning process. None of them were possessed, but they were giving ear to the enemy and voicing his perspective. Discern the voices: Who am I listening to and letting speak through me? Beware of "stinking thinking."
The real you is somebody both you and God want you to be. He is simply redeeming you to become who He created you to be. He didn't give you a sin nature or any of your patterns that don't match up with Jesus. That was Satan's way of "unmaking" you. God always sees the difference and we can learn to do it too. Grow spiritual eyes to see yourself and others as separate from whatever sins may be present.
Because of the reconciliation won for us by Christ, God does not separate Himself from us - only from our sins. Our sins break our fellowship with Him - not His with us.[ix] Therefore, we can confidently go to God with our sin still clinging to us, knowing by faith that He will love us and help us. In His eyes we who believe in Christ are always "covered" and protected by the Blood of Jesus, even when our need to be "cleansed" by the Blood is at its greatest.
This is why He tells us to be bold in coming - He knows that many times we will have to come "slimed" by sin and need to be cleaned up on arrival!
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 ESV
Deception Is Very Deceiving
The reason we need so much cleansing is due to the way that the "law of sin" wars within us against the new law of Christ.[x] This law of sin is the often unrecognized 'teaching' of Satan in us which seems like obvious truth.[xi] For example, it was the devil who "fathered" us into the idea that holding on to bitterness is better than letting go or that being anxious is better than trusting God. The truth is that everyone who sins has been blinded and deceived by an enemy.
In compassion God grants repentance so that we may know the truth, come to our senses and separate ourselves from our sins and the enemy's snares with God's help. Let this grow mercy in you for others.
The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient, in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth, and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 WEB
One goal of effective spiritual warfare is to expose the real enemy, to reveal the true battleground. The real enemy is not your body, not the disease, not the depression, not the addiction, not the people who may have harmed you, not the people who led you astray. The real enemies are those spiritual powers of darkness whose thoughts masquerade as our own in order to tempt us to think, speak and act to serve their purposes.
When we let sinful thoughts, attitudes and feelings dwell in us we are actually fellowshipping with evil beings and establishing Satan's kingdom on earth by doing his will instead of God's. By forgiving everyone (ourselves included) we shift the ultimate blame for evil to the demons who carried people captive into sin in the first place. We can then focus our righteous indignation on the enemy and his kingdom, where God keeps His anger and wrath focused. Certainly Jesus hates the wickedness of the enemy's kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. Psalms 45:7 ESV
We, too, need to develop a perfect hatred for sin as the Psalmist did, and yet remember who the real enemy is under the conditions of our New Covenant. Shift the hate and blame from people to the one who enslaves them to do his will.[xii]
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. Psalms 139:21-22 ESV
When we refuse to forgive someone as the law of Christ commands, we are saying to Jesus: "I don't believe your law is right. I believe my law of bitterness is better." God may well ask of us as He did of Adam, "Who told you that?" Through intercession and forgiveness we are to loose people from their sins and bind the real enemy. But when we bind people to their sins, we loose the enemy instead. Remember, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the invisible powers of evil.[xiii]
Stay focused. Love God, love people and hate the real enemy!
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 ESV
Recognize, Discern, Separate!
Cultivating a perspective of separating people from their sins is a process of discernment and recognition - and the best person on which to practice this is yourself. Learn to notice the presence of negative emotions and wrong attitudes - these are not coming from your true self.
Any loss of peace should alert you. Separate yourself from what is not like Christ in you. The good comes from the New Creation that you already are and are becoming.[xiv] The evil comes from the enemy. Stay in agreement with God and not the devil about who you are. As you learn to practice this with yourself, you will be much better equipped to cover others with the same grace.
Once mastering this, you will learn to see everyone as separate from their sins - including yourself. Heaven's perspective is so much better than that of earth, for once you catch on to it you have to admit that it's, well, heaven!
Put on the 'gospel glasses' and see from heaven's superior perspective!
Father, forgive me for binding people to their sins and holding their sins against them. I repent of and renounce any deeply held belief that this is what You do. I confess that the truth is that You see us all as separate from our sins and can separate anyone from their sins who repents, including myself. Jesus, help me to join You as an intercessor for - not a judge of - myself and my fellow sinners.
Take It to Heart!Don't just give these truths a 'head bob'! For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see Separation from Sin part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 5) and 'work out' with exercises, discussion questions, review of main points, digging deeper, more scriptures, model prayers, renunciations/affirmations and practical steps of life application.
Scriptures and Foot Notes
[i] Exodus 34:7; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
[ii] For the concept of "separation" in relation to justification: Teaching and insights from Be In Health® teaching and materials, Dr. Henry W. Wright, Thomaston, Georgia, seminar notes, October 2000.
[iii] Romans 3:24
Isaiah 49:152 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 2:9
[vi] Genesis 1:31
[vii] Genesis 3:10
[viii] Matthew 16:22-23
[ix] 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
[x] Romans 7:22-25
[xi] John 8:44-46
[xii] 2 Timothy 2:26
[xiii] Ephesians 6:12
[xiv] Colossians 1:27