How Does God Deal With Me When I Sin?

Hebrews 5:2

Lately I have been thinking a lot about my sin.

Don’t panic. I haven’t done anything stupid. It’s just that I rarely think about my sin as sin.

Let me explain.

I know I am far from perfect. I make mistakes. I confess that occasionally, I sin. And when I sin, God corrects me.

So why am I telling people God never convicts us of our sin?

What am I? Some kind of hypocrite?

As I have explained elsewhere, there is a huge difference between conviction and correction. The word “convict” found in our English Bibles implies the declaration of guilt, which is something God never does to the guiltless.

You have been justified through faith in Christ and have peace with God (Rom 5:1). Justification means just-as-if-I-had-never-done-it. Even if you have just done it.

But from time to time we make regrettable choices. When we do the Holy Spirit will seek to bring about a life-giving course correction.

He doesn’t do that by applying the rod of correction or scourging us with sickness. Instead he steers us away from danger and back towards the way of life.

Let me give you two examples:

Example 1: Ugly parenting

As a father of three small children (Update: make that four children. God help me!) I am regularly stretched beyond my coping abilities. I get tired and frustrated and when I do I become a grizzly bear. I frighten my children and say things I regret.

If you are a parent, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

How does God respond when I act this way?

First, let me show you how grace doesn’t work. Grace doesn’t tell me, What a lousy father you were today!

I already know that. I don’t even need the Accuser to tell me.

No, grace doesn’t expose my ugliness but reveals his beauty within me. How does that happen?

For some grace might manifest as a mental picture of themselves parenting really well. Others might be reminded of a scripture that imparts life into a stressful moment. For me, I often find myself abounding in supernatural love.

This doesn’t happen automatically. And it certainly doesn’t happen when I am walking after the flesh and leaning on my own strength and understanding.

But if I make the conscious choice to ask my Father for help, grace comes. For me that means I begin to see my kids just as my heavenly Father see me – as dearly loved.

It’s hard to explain but everything changes. Suddenly their noise and energy no longer bothers me. It’s like my shoulders get widened. Instead of being flattened and overwhelmed I find myself wanting to stoke the fires of their youthful exuberance just to see what happens next.

Do you see?

By the grace of God I become a better me. As I allow Christ to reveal his kid-loving character through me I am transformed from grizzly papa into the best dad in the world.

The same thing can happen to you. The next time your kids drive you around the bend, draw aside. Ask your Father for help. Grace will come. Then give those kids what God gives you.

Example 2: Self-pity

Several years ago I was so overwhelmed by a problem that I began to indulge in self-pity.

Self-pity is huge sin. It’s far more serious than some of the sins we warn teenagers about.

Self-pity is the sin of unbelief in the goodness of God. It is saying, “God, I don’t believe you can handle this situation.” Never give into self-pity because it will sink you faster than the Titanic.

But on that dark day I gave into it. I began to feel sorry for my pathetic self.

What did Jesus do in response to my sin? Did he stand before me like Nathan the Prophet pointing the finger? Did he warn me like Elijah of fire of heaven?

Of course not. Jesus is nothing like that.

I remember it clear as day. I was sitting there in my little funk with my head in my hands and suddenly, in my mind, I could see Jesus on the chair beside me. He was sitting in the same posture as me. He had his head in his hands and he looked worried. As long as I live I’ll never forget what he said:

“You’re right Paul, this is a big problem. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it.”

Then he threw back his head and laughed and laughed at the absurdity of such a thought, and I was instantly set free.

See what he did there?

Jesus took my problem in his massive hands and laughed at it. He showed me the utter ridiculousness of the lie I had bought into.

How foolish to think that Jesus hasn’t got this!

Seeing Christ freed me from the lie that held me captive. I began laughing with him. I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my chair.

Jesus brought me back on course without using either guilt nor condemnation, just laughter and joy (Is. 12:3).

Ask the right question

“Does God see our sins?” “How does God deal with us when we sin?”

These are the wrong sort of questions for they miss the Father’s heart.

God is just not interested in recording your sins or assigning guilt and blame. Our sins surely grieve the Holy Spirit – our destructive choices make him sad – but he doesn’t withdraw, condemn, or convict us in response.

In the example I gave you, Jesus dealt with my sin of self pity without even mentioning it. Do you see? Your sin is not the issue. Your sin was dealt with 2000 years ago at the cross.

What really matters to your Father is you, and you are not your sin.

Those who worry, “Does God see my sin?” are living under an old covenant mindset. In the new covenant a better question is, “How does the Good Shepherd deal with us when we go astray?” The answer is: gently (see Hebrews 5:2).

When you stumble and make a hash of things, Jesus deals with you gently because he knows what it’s like to be human.

No doubt some serious folk will be offended by the idea of gentle Jesus. They will write to remind me of the Revelation churches. They will say, “Jesus wasn’t exactly gentle with the Thyatirans and the Laodiceans, was he?”

It’s true, some people in those letters got rebukes. But don’t you find it interesting that before dealing with those churches Jesus reminded them that he “loves us, has cleansed us from our sins and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (see Rev 1:5-6)? His correction is always motivated by his love for us.

I’m not diminishing the seriousness of sin. Sin is ruinous. I’m saying God does not deal with us as our sins deserve (Ps 103:10). Rather, he deals with us on the basis of love.

It’s not about your sin

I know this may be hard to process. We have been raised to beware sin, to resist sin, to run from sin, to overcome sin. With so much emphasis on sin, guilt, and shame, is it any wonder so many of us are sin-conscious instead of Christ-conscious?

We need to be set free from this unhealthy obsession with sin.

I said at the start that I rarely think about my sin as sin. Yes, I make mistakes. It’s just that I don’t think about those mistakes in the language of sin and guilt.

“Reckon yourself dead to sin” (Rom 6:11). How can I engage with something and be dead to it at the same time?

Since I met Jesus I no longer speak the faithless language of sin and death. I choose to live by the law of the Spirit of life. My mistakes are not sins, per se. They are more serious than that. Rather, they are death-dealing wounds I inflict on myself and others (Gal 6:8). They are missed opportunities to receive and impart life.

“Paul, are you saying you never repent and confess your sins?” I do but probably not in the manner you’re thinking.

True confession is not listing your sins like they did in the old covenant – it’s agreeing with God. And repentance is the same thing – it’s not looking down at your navel but up at Christ who is your life.

By all means confess and repent in the old fashion if it helps, but understand that doing so can actually deter you from the main thing which is getting back on course.

Choose life

When Jesus shows up to laugh at the folly of your distrust, you can either (a) put on ashes and sackcloth or (b) laugh along with him.

When the Holy Spirit shows you how to be a better parent, you can spend the next hour either (a) repenting for being a bad parent or (b) being the better parent.

I say “Choose life!”

Make the choice that releases his life into your situation. Typically this will mean lifting your eyes off your sin and onto him. It’ll mean praising him for his goodness instead of harping on about your badness.

Anyway, that’s just me.

Perhaps you think my sin stories are unspectacular. There was no alcoholism, drug abuse, or pornography mentioned because those haven’t been issues for me.

But most of our sins are little ones and it’s good to experience freedom even in the everyday aspects of life.

You’ve heard my stories; now I want to hear yours. How has God dealt with you when you stumbled? Do you have a story of Jesus gently bringing about a course correction in your life? Will you share it below?

I’d love to hear from you.


More articles about sin and forgiveness.

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38 Comments on How Does God Deal With Me When I Sin?

  1. He corrects my incorrect view with the life giving revelation of HIS view of me. To this day one of the most profound examples I can give you is this. One day I was simply doing dishes in the kitchen that needed to be done. It seems activities such as this are relaxing to me. As I was doing the dishes I found myself focused on His goodness instead of focusing on all the ways I thought I didn’t “measure up”. As I continued to press into these contemplations of Him I found myself becoming overwhelmed with His goodness, and simply began to confess to Him how good I thought He was…….eventually saying to Him” Father, I just think you are absolutely amazing”! It was in that very moment I immediately heard Him say, “Bryan, I think you’re pretty amazing too!”. I was not only so wrecked with His revelation of how He saw me, even in that very moment……… It continues to wreck me even now as I share it.

    • Warren (South Carolina) // June 22, 2015 at 1:04 am // Reply

      Good teaching on how He corrects our incorrect view. Also thanks for the very good example of relaxing and focusing on our Father and His goodness.
      Blessings back!!
      Warren (South Carolina)

    • Hayden Cameron // April 21, 2018 at 2:19 pm // Reply

      Dude every time without fail the word “wrecked” is exactly what I feel when he reveals to me his love for me haha I love it

  2. Thanks for the article. How does sin kill? (Physically or Spiritually?)

  3. marriedmanwithkids // June 21, 2015 at 5:27 am // Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you for this reminder. I’ve been so wrapped up in my own self-pity I’ve completely taken my eyes off of God. It’s even manifested into health issues over the last few years. After wiping away the tears this morning and seeing, once again, “the Jesus who laughs,” I’ve felt peace in my heart today like I’ve not felt in such a long time. Thank you brother, and thank you Jesus.

  4. What if you have done something stupid? A lot . Like adultery and homosexuality? Guilty of both. Homosexuality over 30 years ago but still haunts and depresses me as now 51 I hate the memories. Seems to easy just to repent and move on but I feel like I am dying from guilt and shame. Thank you. Tony

  5. “Our sins surely grieve the Holy Spirit – they make him sad – but he doesn’t withdraw, condemn, or convict us in response.”
    How does this relate to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:17: “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”?
    The tone seems so difference. It feels like Jesus says the church may condemn you and may even throw you out of church when you sin.
    I hope anyone can share his/her thoughts on how to see this text in relation to the gentile approach of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus in other Bible texts.

  6. What if you have done seriously stupid sins. Just shoot yourself?

    • Dear Tony,
      May I suggest you read some posts about forgiveness? You can find them under Archives/Subject Index/forgiveness. One post says:

      “You are forgiven. The reason why forgiveness is a done deal and salvation is not, is because forgiveness is a game that requires only one player. God doesn’t need your permission to forgive you. In our puny human minds we find this hard to grasp because we are not natural forgivers. We keep long records of wrong done to us. But God is not like us. He loves us with an unconditional love. He forgives us without any regard for our behavior and in accordance with the riches of His grace (Eph 1:7). Agape-love keeps no record of wrongs which is why God can choose to remember our sins no more. This is wonderful news! When you know His forgiveness, you are empowered to forgive yourself and others.

      Yes, we still need to receive His forgiveness just as we need to receive His grace. If you don’t believe that you are forgiven, then you will act like an unforgiven sinner. But we need not ask God to do what He has already done. Forgiveness, along with all the benefits of salvation, comes to us in Christ.”

      God bless you!

    • Dear Tony,
      Please make sure you will read this post:
      I pray for you.

      • Thank you very much Nana. Will study and meditate in this great word. Thanks again

    • King Manasseh in the Old Testament killed his children in sacrifice to a false god, and God still forgave him and restored the kingdom of Israel unto him–and this is Old Covenant!

  7. Paul, thank you for your input and sharing the teaching. Will meditate on this.

  8. To some people, God gives grace. To others, He doles out punishment. This is seen in both the old and new testaments. He forgave David but took his child. When Uzziah became proud, He gave him leprosy, which led to his death. He killed Ananias and Sapphirah stone dead; they did not even get the chance to come to their senses and repent. It is all inscrutable, and God is unpredictable. It is easy enough to cherry-pick the Bible verses that talk about it, but it is just as easy to find the places where we are warned to not sin–or else! I can’t bank on ‘grace’ any more than I can bank on the tooth fairy (and, believe me, I would love to!).

    • The Bible clearly states that we are saved by grace. If you “can’t bank on ‘grace,'” what are you “banking” on?

      • I know we are saved by grace (put in right standing with God so that we do not go to Hell); but I am not absolutely convinced that God refrains from punishing sin, even the sin of his own people. That is the part that seems like cherry-picked fairy tale to me. We don’t live happily ever after if we sin. I don’t want that to be true because I know I am a sinner. But I fear that it is.

      • Anne both Andrew Wommack, founder of Charis Bible College, and Dr. James Richards author of numorous books and the hold of degrees in medicine, human behavior, and theology have both taught that while salvation from hell is true in the gospel, it is divinely packaged as glad tidings and good news. Paul the apostle says love the sinner, and hate the sin. But why would Paul also pray that we prosper above all else? And why did he have a revelation of a God-with-no-whip? Please read Escape to Reality’s posts under a search for scourging. It is almost-too-good-to-be-true good news.

    • momzilla76 // June 26, 2016 at 12:35 pm // Reply

      Anne- Hebrews 9:24-26 takes it from a cherry picked fairy tale right out into reality. Until I read that passage I kept wondering “how” God could not react to each new sin. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. Jesus only died and shed His blood one time. There is no more sacrifice that God will accept so if Jesus one time bloodshed was not enough then nothing else is. God lets us face the Earthly consequences of our sin but Jesus once and for all dealt with the spiritual and eternal ones

      • Momzilla-That is a good point, worthy of more consideration. I will keep thinking about it.

    • Anne, I know this is a struggle for you. It is for many Christians. Part of the issue stems from decades of incorrect teaching of the Gospel. There are literally dozens of articles on this site that will help you deal with your questions and confusion. Spend some time looking through the Subject Index on the site. Paul probably has several articles on each of the items you mentioned specifically. Ananias and Sapphira, whether God punishes sin, etc. Even sometimes when the Old Testament seems clear it’s probably not. Everything needs to be judged through the lens of the Cross/Jesus. Basically God should be interpreted from the point of the New Covenant/Jesus and not the Old.

  9. Roshaneaso, I will have to search for those posts and read. I am just having trouble grasping all this, though I want it to be true.

    • Paul or at least everyone here and on the Facebook page for E2R and other grace sites are really open to questions and exposing our religion. I have not always been so confident. Other times I was very bold. You’re question was a good one and some day you may ask good questions that affirm God’s good word. Don’t be afraid of feelings that say this is all fake. It’s true sometimes it’s unreasonable – unreasonably good! We’ve got kinks and bad edges, but God loves us just the same.

      • This is certainly a more encouraging way to think. I hear a pastor speak every Sunday who emphasizes discipleship, 24/7 dying to self or else we are not really disciples, and I have trouble seeing grace in such rigor. Feels like boot camp. Who can live up to that? I wish I could believe God loved me in my failure to meet the mark. Thanks for taking the time to write your words.

  10. My husband and I couldn’t agree with you more. But from a practical point of view,do you feel it’s wrong for a Christian to ask God to “forgive them” when they’re aware they’ve sinned in order to experience the forgiveness we already have in Christ?

  11. GREGORY WEAVER // October 28, 2016 at 6:23 am // Reply

    great stuff paul. It’s funny, a fiery preacher can make you feel guilty, but when the Holy Spirit corrects me, it never leads me to feel guilty. It is always encouraging and reminding me that that is not who I am in Christ.

  12. Richard Kingman // May 28, 2018 at 5:33 am // Reply

    I interpet being dead to sin in two ways.
    Here is the first way: I died to Law, so sin lost its power. For the power of sin IS the Law. Law activates sin. If you have no Law. Sin has no way to activate. Good as dead.
    Sin shall not be your Master, for you are not under Law, but grace! If sin has no Law to activate it, being dormant; How can it possibly be your Master? For Christians; Rom. 7 says we died to Law and we are joined to another, that we may bear fruit unto God.
    Now the second way. Some would disagree with.
    Since we are dead to the old nature of sin. How does that become real in our everyday life? By our effort? tryiny to ACT like we are dead to sin? Ha! Good luck on that one! When Jesus died and was raised up and glorified, He was given the Holy Spirit, to give to each one of us. Why is the Holy Spirit important for us ? One way is to make real to us, what Christ has done for us. The REALITY of being dead to sin is a work of the Spirit. Not our own weak efforts in trying to be dead or insensitive to the passions of the flesh. Now a dead person in the cemetary surely is dead to sin.
    I have a hard time imitating them. And if the requirement IS that I am to imitate them, it seems that would bring me back under guilt and shame, for not doing my job very good. So I believe my job is to trust God’s Spirit for power to actually be insensitive to sin. And also trust the Holy Spirit to the reality of being alive to God!

  13. Thank you. Your wise advice is refreshing. Religion is so full of putting heavy loads of do this and don’t do that. But as God’s children, He promises to fill us with good things. Sometimes discipline. Because He loves us.

  14. I loved hearing your experience with Jesus laughing and showing you that “he’s got this”. How beautiful! And now this image will come to me if I find myself in the same scenario.

  15. Is God’s correction supposed to be in the form of guilt? I hear lots of people use the word conviction like it’s an emotion as in: “I was feeling so convicted after I lied last week”. People even say that if one doesn’t feel bad after they sin they aren’t saved. Is that true?

    • Guilt comes from your conscience, not the Holy Spirit. He’s the Spirit of Grace not the Spirit of Guilt. More here.

      • Thanks for the reply. However, if guilt is not from the conviction, would it perhaps be more mental? I don’t know any other ways the Spirit would make someone recognize their sainthood.

  16. I’ve seen read a large majority of your website, and it was so uplifting to me to hear the things I’ve always believed, I was crying in relief most of the night. However, I do struggle still with my appearance…for I was told I showed “no fruits” and that he did not need to hear of my personal relationship, for he could tell by my darker fashion, and eccentric tastes that I bore no fruit of Christ. My words meant nothing. I know and believe that believing in Christ’s sacrifice in utmost dedication as the producer of my “fruits” and also my “works”, but I still am in the process of having Christ heal me of my wounds, for I am insecure and my freedom in the Lord is still dampened. Could it be all that I’ve experienced without concern or worry that Christ or the Holy Spirit was convicting me, was false? Or are these just leftover remnants of religion and toxic accusations from another believer?

    Thanks millions if you read this Paul Ellis, and blessings in Christ.

    • You belong to Christ, so don’t let the “fruit inspectors” trouble you. If God is for you, who can condemn you? Rest in his love and let nothing move you.

      • Jesse Oor // October 18, 2021 at 4:38 pm //

        Thank you so much for the reply and the reassurance, which I should have been content enough to receive from the Spirit, but sometimes a confirmation does wonders and I felt I was lead to your site for a reason. I’ve been a lifelong believer, so I was floored when someone told me I didn’t truly love Christ after 25+ years of unshaken belief. How did I experience so many miracles, spiritual epiphanies, so much change…if Christ leaves us when we sin after forgiveness? I am “almost” ashamed I let such a foolish accusation trouble me, but I have soared on God’s grace, and thought I had seen the apex but now the curtain has fallen to reveal that his grace is far more gargantuan than I could ever imagine. Thank you again, Paul Ellis, I will be following your page and it’s the first one in a long time I can feel isn’t going to bite at me unknowingly in the future. Blessings in Christ.

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