I have plenty of vices, to be sure. God has helped me overcome some of them, but I can confirm what my friends and family already know: I have a long ways to go. What is even more frustrating is to remain bound by bad habits and stubborn sins that have a negative effect on me. My habits bring me pain, embarrassment, and guilt. Still, they seem to control me when I least want them to. Worst of all, I realize that my sins aren’t some external foe, but (despite having been made new in Jesus Christ) it is me who is making the wrong choices.
The apostle Peter writes about those who “have had enough”:
So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.
1 Peter 4:1-3 NLT
While saved people aren’t perfect, the process of repentance is a key step in following Jesus. This turning away from sin (and walking towards the righteous and abundant life that Jesus offers) is a pivoting point for those who have “had enough”. While Peter still prophesied suffering for his readers, that was preferable to continuing in a life of sin (and the consequences of the latter).
Maybe we are currently caught in a sinful lifestyle, or we remember our own choices before our own repentance. Maybe we love someone who is trapped in a vicious cycle of sin. Regardless, I think that we can all appreciate the pain, frustration, and self-loathing that sin brings.
Yes, some sinful choices dull or mask the pain for a while, but they don’t get rid of it completely. The longer we dwell in it, the more that sin continues to harm our whole selves. For the alcoholic who is sick of hangovers, the partier who is afraid of taking the wrong pill, or the one who craves so much wealth that there is never enough, we finally get to the point where we have had enough.
Once we have realized that enough is enough, what happens next is life-altering. We have three choices, each with a significant corresponding impact on us:
- We can choose to keep living in our sin. There’s a drink, a hit, or an event that will buy us just a little more time in our delusions. The pain doesn’t really go away, though, and sin leaves us alone in our guilt.
- We can try to get better on our own. The human will is easily motivated, but not always quickly changed. Resolving to “do better” doesn’t get most of us very far. Addictions get their hooks into us, and breaking free is often beyond our own capabilities. When we slip backwards, we are reminded of our weaknesses.
- Or, we can get help from a reliable source. With the realization that we need to find something better, and that our history of sin isn’t going to show us a healthier way (except maybe a list of things to avoid), the logical approach is to find someone with a better solution.
Peter’s audience had chosen the third option, which we might call, “repentance with help”. They had repented of their sins, and trusted God (in His love for them) to offer the true healing that they needed. Upon chasing their own desires and not finding them to be satisfying, they had given Jesus the chance to lead them into something better. Here, “better” wasn’t always smooth sailing – Jesus showed us that a fallen world will fight against those who do the right thing – but the result was far superior to what their own preferences had led them into.
This pivotal action of repentance is difficult, though. Not only must we acknowledge our own state of being fed up with sin, but we probably have to tell someone else. (I suppose that we could read a book about how to get better, but I don’t think that’s nearly as likely to help as finding another person to walk us through recovery.) While the one-time cost – the impact on our pride of admitting our shortcomings – is real, the long-term benefits are well worth the investment.
Have you had enough? I have, too. Let’s do something about it, and get help from the One who loves us so much that He wants our lives to change for the better. Only He has the power to make that change.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.