Written by Andrianus Fredy Wijaya, originally in Bahasa Indonesia
This three-letter word dominated my life. Although I called myself a Christian, I committed the same sins over and over again: watching pornographic movies, smoking, and drinking strong liquor. Every time I finished doing any one of these, guilt would overcome me and lead me to confess my sins to God. Yet, despite knowing that these sinful habits did not please God, I kept doing them. It was as if they were shackled to my life. They drove me to frustration, and many times I wondered, “Is it possible that my sins can be forgiven?”
I tried many ways to get rid of my bad habits. Once, I went through therapy to help me stop smoking. However, not only did I not stop, but I was even introduced to new friends who made my smoking habit worse. Watching pornographic films was also something that was heavily entrenched in my life. In fact, I sold pornographic films when I was in secondary school. Just imagine, a Christian being known as a porn seller! I asked many pastors to pray for me, but my life didn’t change. Instead, it got worse. I felt powerless. I felt ashamed of my life. I felt unworthy of being a child of God. I was certain that I was not saved.
Through the grace of God, however, when I was in university, I met a friend who loved God. He reminded me of the time I was baptized in high school, the moment I confessed my sins to God and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. He reminded me of the Bible verse that says: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Like a homeless child adopted by a rich family, I was a sinner who had been raised by God to become His son. Of course, that homeless child wouldn’t immediately be able to become like his new, respectable family. But he now had an opportunity to change, and he now had parents who would be there to guide him. Similarly, forgiveness and a new status in Christ wouldn’t automatically turn me into a perfect person, but I now had the power to refuse sin, because my Father had given me an opportunity and the strength to live out a new life. I was no longer hopelessly shackled and powerless.
“But I’ve already committed so many sins, what do I have to do?” I asked my friend, still full of doubts.
“The Lord is faithful and just,” he replied with a smile. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness,” he continued, quoting 1 John 1:9.
What a wonderful, comforting guarantee from God Himself! God does not turn away His children who make mistakes. When we fall down, what we have to do is to quickly get up and return to Him, to confess and stay away from sin, and to give ourselves over to be renewed by Him.
I felt so much freedom hearing those words! God had given me the freedom to keep living for Him—not the freedom to sin. I had a newfound reason to not sin again.
I am being renewed every day now. I am no longer burdened by guilt from my past, or feelings of powerlessness about my bad habits. I believe that God Himself guarantees my life and will keep giving me the strength to do things that please Him.