"Struggling" vs. "Repentance"

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"Struggling" vs. "Repentance"

Postby AkMike » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:40 am

Although I have both words in seeming opposition, I'm not sure they really are. Fact is, I really don't know.

I've been reading through several of the "Accountability and Celebration" threads, and I'm both heartened and a little confused about some of the posts. They have brought up something in me that I've been pondering for some time, and really hadn't gotten a satisfying biblical answer to. For instance, some of the posters, after committing to be accountable to the other posters in that thread (which takes both admirable courage and resoluteness), sometimes fell back into the sin of porn. They didn't stay there, but, with the encouragement of the other posters, got up, dusted themselves off, and sought the Lord again for help in staying away from porn.

It was wonderful reading of the support among the Accountability posters. So often, I've seen Christians get judgmental and even accusatory against other Christians struggling with besetting sins, and that attitude breaks my heart. I try to take the route that Christ prescribes for us in Galatians where Paul says, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."

But this ongoing struggle among whom I believe to be genuinely repentant pornography users raised a question in myself that I've often wrestled with. You see, I'm one of those folks who internalize a lot. I'm generally a patient man, and try hard to pass over offense. But, if someone continues to push my buttons in the right sequence, I'll lose my temper. Now, Galatians lists "outbursts of anger" in the "sins of the flesh" category in Galatians chapter five, and he lists this along with such "major" sins as witchcraft (sorcery). And Jesus in the book of Matthew basically equated unrighteous anger with a brother as murder of the heart.

Now, every time I lose it, and engage my temper, I usually quickly repent, and apologize if I've hurt someone's feelings. But the fact is, my temper is something that I've "lost" repeatedly, and sometimes I have a hard time accepting Christ's forgiveness ("seventy times seven). I feel horrible about it, because I really, honestly hate getting angry.

Okay, so, bringing this back to the Accountability threads, can someone please tell me what is the difference between "repentance" and "struggling". I've read at some websites that if we continue to engage our particular weakness (sin), then we're not really repentant. I personally don't believe that, but at the same time I can't deny that Jesus said, "Go and sin no more."

I've also read on some websites that people often use the word "struggling" to excuse their falling back into sin, and while I'd agree that a hardened sinner (who may even be a Christian) might do that, I can't believe that even Christians who hate and yet engage a repeated sin are unrepentant. I always try to adhere to the rule of "mercy first".

Anyway, biblically, can we (us temper-losers and porn users) be considered truly repentant if we continue to have periods (maybe often) of falling into the same sin? Why or why not--and again, please, within a biblical framework.


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Re: "Struggling" vs. "Repentance"

Postby doug-h » Thu Jun 16, 2016 12:47 pm


I'm far from a Theological scholar, but I think you are trying to use the words interchangeably, and I don't think that is the case.

A struggle is just that. It is a weakness, a proclivity for a particular sin, or a number of sins. What is a struggle for one, may not be a struggle for another, and I think that fact, and pride is the root of that judgemental attitude you speak of. It is only after you recognize your own strugges, that you can truly understand that another's different struggle is just as real for them, just as difficult to overcome, as your own. Some struggles are different, in that they are based on addictive elements. Pornography, alcoholism, or any chemical dependency being oft cited examples.

In the last year or so, long after I looked at my last pornographic image, I find I still struggle with addictive behavior, as well as some anger issues I am trying to overcome.

Anger itself is not a sin, there are righteous angers. At the same time, those of us who struggle with it probably have some pretty deep seated hurts, possibly without even recognizing it. I'm a guy who was angry for most of my life, and every disapointment was an excuse to vent that anger, no matter how trivial the disapointment. I went out of my way to seek reasons to let it loose, and needlessly hurt a lot of people, and occasionally just left them dazed and confused as to what just happened.

I'm not boasting when I say that pornography was easy for me to overcome. It was a single decision, made in a single moment. The addictive behavior is still there, and if I am honest, I would just say that I have found more innocent addictions.

The anger was also a singular decision, based totally on a repentant spirit. It just became obvious that it was what was inside me, and not my circumstances that were the root of it. I am world's better than I was, but it is a daily struggle, and I have to check myself often.

Repentance is, for lack of a better phrase, remorse and accepting responsibility for your at shortcomings. It doesn't mean that you won't struggle, it doesn't mean that you are guaranteed never to fall again. It means that you are genuinely sorry that you failed in the past, and that you own it. It mean that it breaks your heart that you failed. That is huge, but it doesn't remove the struggles any of us face.

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Re: "Struggling" vs. "Repentance"

Postby Kilarin » Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:37 pm

We only have to look at the disciples to see examples of people who had serious struggles with sin.

Mark 9:33-34 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

While they were with Christ, they were guilty of the sin of pride, repeatedly guilty, and well aware that it was a sin, because otherwise they would not have been trying to hide it.

And this problem of falling back into sin did not disappear form the disciples lives, even after Christ's resurrection.

Galatians 2:11-13 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Even years after Christ's crucifixion, Peter still had problems with pride and prejudice on occasion.

Our struggle with sin is not actually a struggle with the sin itself, but a struggle of learning to surrender our wills to Christ continually. And that is a struggle that we go through on a daily basis, and will be going through for all of our lives on earth. Repentance IS a struggle, it is the struggle with self. The failures along the way really are failures, but God does not give up on us because we stumble and fall:

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Rather, when we stumble, He is always there to pick us back up and get us going in the right direction again.

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Re: "Struggling" vs. "Repentance"

Postby Job29Man » Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:13 am

Great discussion.

This topic came up recently in my sermon series on the book of First Corinthians. In chapter 6 Paul lists out several groups of people who are not going to inherit the Kingdom of God. I certainly could be wrong but, my study on this informed me that "not inherit the Kingdom of God" actually means (in the modern N. American vernacular) that they will not "go to Heaven" or "not be saved." The list was this...

9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

If you have the belief that "drunkard" is the same as "alcoholic" or "addict," which we often hear is something beyond the person's ability to control, beyond their ability to quit on their own, then this is a difficult pill to swallow. But if this really is about the practicing alcoholic then it means that God is holding "drunkards" responsible for their active decision to take a drink, and then another, and another until it becomes a lifestyle of drunkenness, i.e. a lifestyle of continued, persistent, unrepentant sin.

Why else would drunkenness be in the list of practices whose practitioners "will not inherit the Kingdom of God?"

So is the drunk "willful?" Or is he "struggling?" I suppose only God knows for sure. Certainly He will be the Judge who decides.
If a man does not shave for a day does he have a beard? Or a five-o'clock shadow?
If he doesn't shave for 12 days in a row, is it a beard yet? Depends, right?

I had a conversation with a man dear and very close to me. He claims to be a Christian. The conversation was about his recently "coming out." "I'm gay" he said. I responded "Look, I understand if you are struggling with same sex attraction." He answered "Stop calling it a struggle. I'm not struggling with anything. I'm proud to be gay. I will practice this lifestyle without any struggle at all."

Hmmm. No repentance there!

And how about the person who claims to be struggling and says "I'm trying the best I can" but then you look at their life and you can see, there's really no signs of "struggle" at all. They just sorta "feel bad" or guilty about what they are doing but never really make a serious effort to combat their weakness. When does it become a "struggle" (in the Romans 7 sense) that is part and parcel of the repentant sinner's faith walk?
Wanting to become like Job, as described in the Bible, the book of Job chapter 29. Hence the screen name.

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