We say it all the time. We think it all the time. We feel it all the time. But what a deception this statement really is: “I can’t believe I did that.”
Regardless of how often we say it to ourselves, realize this: God has never once uttered those words about you. The grossest, vilest, most demonic thoughts and acts to ever spew forth from a man or woman have never prompted God to say, “Wow… I can’t believe you did that. I mean… Geez. You should be better than that.”
There is some really sick stuff out there. There are places in Asia where men pay for the sexual favors of 18-month-old children and there are mothers and fathers who sell their children into that industry. There is depravity upon depravity. Guess what? It doesn’t shock God one bit. He is not scandalized by any of our sins! He knows exactly what we’re capable of. He knows exactly what we are destined to do without being totally disposed to the movement of His Love.
Are you totally disposed to His Love? Are you “perfect as Your Heavenly Father is perfect”? Of course not! So, of course you sin. That’s what human beings do this side of Paradise, this side of being made perfect.
“I can’t believe I did that” is a straight path to discouragement. It reveals the feeling of a massive letdown – that you weren’t strong enough. To say it is to admit that you are trying to live by your own strength. You thought you were stronger than that, and the fact that you are not, shocks and depresses you, and makes you feel as though there is no hope. And that is actually dead-on, because there is no hope in simply relying on your own strength. If you are surprised when you fall, you will, necessarily, be discouraged.
“I can’t believe I did that” is an impostor of humility. We are deceived into thinking that these are the words of someone who is sorry for his sin. They are not those words. Instead, they say, “I can’t believe that I, of all people, would do this. I mean, I am far holier than this. This is stuff that people who are not nearly as committed of a disciple as I – this is stuff they struggle with. Surely, this is beneath someone like me?” Lies, lies, damned lies, and pride. Of course, we don’t mean to be implying this, but it is unavoidable whenever we say, “I can’t believe I did that!”
Why not, instead, live knowing that there is no evil of which you are not capable? Murder, adultery, robbery, cohabitation, pornography, fornication, slander, incest, contraception and every form of pride – you name it, you are capable of all of it. The only reason you may not have fallen prey to these traps is because of the Holy Spirit’s power to save you from them. Don’t be surprised if you fall, you have always been hanging by a thread.
Fortunately, that is a really, really strong thread! Given your repentance, there is nothing Mercy can’t cover! So, in your sin, don’t approach Him with downcast eyes worried about whether you’ll ever ‘make it’, saying, “Lord, I can’t believe I’m back here, I can’t believe I did this again.” Instead, approach Him, sinner that you are, with a smile (not because of your sin, but because of His Mercy!), saying, “Yep, Lord. This is what I do without You, isn’t it? You’re not surprised that I did this, so why should I be? To be sure, I’m sorry, and I ask You to heal and forgive me. Thank you that I do not have to be discouraged by my frailty, but that, mystery of all mysteries, my sin itself actually leads me to You! I wait on Your Power to transform me. Make me a new creation!”
God isn’t surprised by your sins, neither should you be. He just wants to free you from them. Realize your powerlessness and let Him.