“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.”
This is probably one of, if not my favorite quote of all time. People say that Einstein didn’t say it, that it came from a Chinese proverb or Benjamin Franklin. I could care less who said it, for me, it is a perfect representation of mankind today. I mean what are we doing? How many times have we gone to the same thing hoping that it will gain us new results? This is a principle that we once knew well. Most of us at one time in our young childhood, have attempted to put a square peg in a round hole. However, our logic grows and develops quickly, and we stop trying to get that peg in that particular hole. We figure out that the strategy we were using with the square peg doesn’t work and then we adapt. Somewhere, somehow we lost that lesson and regressed to insanity apparently, as we become so accustom to old habits, that we fail to see the folly in our logic. These problems have trickled down into our teenagers as well as our own lives. Our girls are constantly falling for the same type of “bad boy” that winds up tearing their hearts to shreds. Its the same boy, just with a different name. It filters down to the friends they choose, desperate to fit in, they are willing to compromise beliefs and whitewash what they call “little sins” in order to garner some respect from people who have trouble respecting themselves. Then they wonder why they are in trouble or their heart gets broken, only to repeat the process all over again in an endless cycle.
Now I admit, there are somethings worth repeating. For example, on the back of my Head & Shoulder shampoo bottle, it says, “wet hair, massage onto scalp, rinse, repeat if desired.” Now I know what you are thinking, “Keith, you don’t have dandruff.” EXACTLY!!!! But I digress. The point I really want to get to tonight is that many of us as adults, and an overwhelming number of teenagers and young adults are caught in a dangerous, debilitating loop. We are stuck in the spin cycle of sin, or what I like to call, the Sin Cycle. This is the vicious cycle that causes us to seemingly repeat the same sins over and over and over again, in an endless parade of face plants before our creator. You know the cycle I am talking about. It begins with the sin, one more drink, one more snort or hit, one more look at the internet, just a few dollars. Once the sin is committed and once that temporary high is gone (either literally or figuratively), the next phase of the cycle set in….guilt. This usually hits us when we realize, however momentary it is, that the only way out of this predicament is Christ. This comes in many form:, a friend calling you out, rent money or grocery money not available for your kids, you hurt a close friend or family member physically or emotionally, or your wife or girlfriend find your computer files. However, you are reminded that you have done something wrong, you quickly slide into the next phase of this cycle, and perhaps the most dangerous phase of the cycle- the promise. The promise that we will never ever do it again. This is the most dangerous for a couple of reasons. First off, it is completely self reliant. You are actually trying to rely on yourself to stop doing something you have proven you can’t stop doing. Secondly, it teaches you that you are incapable, and from that it makes you believe the lie that you are not worthy of saving from your sin. This of course leads to the final phase of the cycle, you run back to that same sin again because its comfortable, its predictable, it’s consistent. It is a place where, no matter how bad it is or how much the pain hurts, you at least know what to expect. Like I said, this is a process we are all familiar with: you, me, everyone. Once you read it though, you can begin to understand why Einstein said what he did, IT’S INSANE!!!
So, how do we escape the insanity? Well, the first thing you need to understand, and I need you to read this carefully. You can not escape sin. You are going to sin, we are imperfect, we are flawed; BUT, that can not be used as an excuse to make your sin okay. I can not stress this enough. We are to be Christlike in every way, and Christ was sinless. Now, I know that is an apparent contradiction, but it isn’t really and this is why. We need to be continually moving forward with our sins. That simply means, don’t retreat back to the same sins that you always commit- your “go to” sins. When you have sinned, give it to God, be done with that sin and move forward. Yes, we are going to trip up, but let’s trip up moving toward God and not away from Him. So, the question I get asked a lot is how to do you keep moving forward, here are the 4 steps I give my students when dealing with this issue:
1. Expose your sin:
I once read that sin is at its best when it is kept a secret. We need to look no further than King David himself. In chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, King David makes the monumental mistake of adultery with Bathsheba and he did what we all do, he tried to hide it. King David was the power of the land, however, and he covered it up by murder. This is the King of all Israel, God’s chosen one. While, we may not go to those lengths, we believe that by concealing it, we can minimize the damage. In reality, however, this only destroys trust and relationships; and like David, you may hide it from everyone you know, but there is no hiding it from God. So expose your sin, tell a pastor, tell a friend, find someone that will pray with you and help you lift this burden off of your shoulders.
2. Pull Yourself Out of the Center:
Move your life from a self centered to a God centered life. Many of us talk about God being at the top of our priority list, and while I understand what you mean, I don’t like that concept. What do you do when you get through with an item on your to-do list? That’s right, you cross it off and don’t think any more about it. You take the attitude that you are done with that task and you don’t consider it again. That is why we have gotten into fast food religion. We check church and in essence God off the list every Sunday and Wednesday and then we put Him out of our mind until that next Sunday or Wednesday. Instead, we need to put God at the center of every day. Our list, our tasks, our goals, our desires, should be born from the nucleus of your life, like the spokes of a wheel- with God at the center. Everything on your list should be directly connected to God and you should consider how each action, each choice can honor Him. Trust me, if you can lead a God centered life, you will have a very hard time continually repeating sins. David had to learn this the hard way. If you continue to read in 2 Samuel chapter 12, God sends the prophet, Nathan to rebuke David for his actions. For David, God wasn’t even on his radar when he took Bathsheba, much less at the center.
3. Grow Some Scars:
We should never allow our past to haunt us or to dictate our life. Right now, I am reading a book by Derwin Gray titled, Limitless Life, where Derwin talks about the labels that our life gives us and how we should tear away from those labels and cling to the labels that Christ has given us. This is already doing wonders for me, especially dealing with my past. I’m not talking about clinging to those labels, what I am talking about is growing scars. You see, scars do three things. To get a scar, they hurt. These scars that form from our sins leave an impression. They let us know that we are vulnerable, that we are limited in our human capabilities. Scars remind us of our past. They remind us of the hurt we experienced when we went through that particular sin. This is NOT to dwell on our past, nor to gauge our self worth based on our past, but this scar grows us and allows us to reach out to others with similar wounds who haven’t grown their own scars yet. Scars also remind us of the most important thing- we’ve been healed. Scars denote healing and we can never lose sight of the fact that once we have scars, we have been healed through the sacrifice of Jesus.
4. Let God be God
So many people have told me that God can’t forgive them, that there was no possible way He could forgive all that they have done. Here is the problem with this statement. God can do anything. He created the world and ruled us as God the father, He sent His son, as the God the Son where he lived perfectly and died for our sins. Not only did He die for our sins, HE GOT UP!!!! He conquered the grave. Now God resides with us in the Holy Spirit, a Holy Trinity of awesomeness. God CAN forgive you and more importantly, He WANTS to forgive you. We need to accept this forgiveness and move forward, without excuses.
The point I want you to know is this. We aren’t perfect. We will mess up, sometimes badly. But, as long as we are moving toward a life that mirrors Christ, as long as our trips and stumbles are moving toward Him instead of retreating away from Christ, I think you will find it easier to escape the cycle. Remember that with God, nothing is impossible. He can, He wants to, and He will break you free from the bondage of sin that you retreat to when you are hurt, or need comfort. Matthew 11 reminds us that we can find rest in Christ, whose burden is light. I pray that you can find the peace you search for as you break through the spin cycle of sin.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach
Scriptures to Reference:
2 Samuel Chapter 11
2 Samuel 12:1-23