While discouragement doesn’t always flow from sin, sometimes it does. That may be the most important principle about discouragement to understand. Since it is much easier to run to extremes rather than find balance, we tend to take the path of least resistance and run to one extreme or another. One extreme in regards to discouragement is to say that it is always the result of sin. This view says that the only reason a believer would be discouraged is if there was sin in his or her life. This is simply untrue. The other extreme in regards to discouragement is to say that it never has anything to do with sin. This view says that sin is never the cause for discouragement in a believer’s life. This is simply untrue. This is why we must understand this very important principle, while discouragement doesn’t always flow from sin, sometimes it does.
A believer that is overcome by their sin and feels powerlessly trapped in their sin will be one of the most discouraged people around. Have you ever noticed the way Satan seems to flip the script in regards to temptation and sin? When it’s a temptation, he wants us to focus on the pleasure giving in to the temptation will bring. He doesn’t want us to think about any long term consequences, just the here and the now. He wants us to believe that this sin is no big deal. He wants us to believe that it’s such a small thing that surely God wouldn’t mind.
Then when we give in to the temptation, Satan flips the script. Suddenly, he becomes the accusing voice telling us how worthless we are. At this point, he wants us to believe that we have gone too far and that God won’t forgive us this time. He tries to convince us that this defeated life we are living in is the best we can hope to have. He tries to convince us that we aren’t really saved. He pours on the shame and contempt knowing that if he can get us to focus on our sin instead of God’s grace and mercy, we’ll be too ashamed to seek forgiveness.
A believer that is discouraged because of their sin does not need other believers to become the accuser of the brethren. That’s what Satan does. It’s not what we are supposed to do. A believer that is discouraged because of their sin is very aware of the severity of their sin and genuinely feels remorse for their sin. They just feel that there is no way out of their sin and have basically given up. A believer that is discouraged because of their sins needs their brothers and sisters to encourage them in the grace and mercy of God.
Jeremiah wrote, “This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 (NKJV)
This is one of my very favorite passages of Scripture because of the context. Several years ago I preached from this passage of Scripture and in my studies I read several other sermons on this passage. As I read several messages on these verses, I noticed a reoccurring theme in the sermons. The titles were like, “Hope in tragedy.” “When tragedy strikes.” “Look to God during times of tragedy.” On an on they went about the tragedy of what happened to Jerusalem.
In my mind, a tragedy is a disastrous event that is brought on by the circumstances of life, but is not the direct consequences of someone’s actions. If you take this view of what a tragedy is, what happened to Jerusalem was NOT a tragedy.
What happened to Jerusalem was a direct consequence of their continued rebellion against God. For years and years, they had rebelled against God and violated the covenant they had made with Him. For years and years, God had sent prophets like Jeremiah, and Isaiah to warn them that if they did not turn back to God, He would surely punish them by destroying Jerusalem. Yet, they persisted in their rebellion and sinful ways.
The people of Jerusalem weren’t the victims of a tragedy. They were people who had repeatedly sinned against God. The people of Jerusalem were suffering because of their sin. They were reaping what they had sown for years. Despite their sin and the horrible consequences they were suffering because of their sin, Jeremiah said there was still hope. Jeremiah had hope because of the greatness of the grace and mercy of God. This passage can be a great encouragement to the believer that is discouraged over his or her sin.
Perhaps the best verse comes from the Apostle John who wrote, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Did you catch what John said? John tells believer not to sin. But if they do, Jesus is their advocate with the Father. The believer who seeks to confess their sin to the Lord finds that Jesus is on their side. Since Jesus has already paid the penalty for their sins, He now offers grace and mercy to the believer. This can be great news to the believer that is discouraged in their sin. We must encourage discouraged believers in the grace and mercy of God.
Believer, are you discouraged today because of your sin? If you are, then I want to encourage you in the grace and mercy of God. The greatness of God’s mercy and grace ensures us that there is always hope. This is true even when we are suffering the consequences for our sins. Trust Scripture when it says that Jesus is on your side even after you sin. Obey Scripture when it says we are to confess our sins (1 John 1:9). Trust that when you confess it, God is faithful to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Do you know a believer that is discouraged because of his or her sin? If you do, then take the time to encourage them in the grace and mercy of God. This isn’t the time for you to be the accuser of the brethren. This isn’t the time for you to be condescending and judgmental. This is the time to encourage them in the grace and mercy of God.