Steps To Spiritual Recovery

Experiencing God When You've Blown It Big Time
By Chip Ingram

One thing all human beings have in common is failure. King David was no different. One day, from his balcony, he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing. He saw, he looked, and he kept looking. Then he sent for her and committed adultery with her. Some time later, Bathsheba informed the king she was pregnant. At first, David tried to cover up his sins by bringing her husband home from battle to sleep with her. When that plan failed, he had Bathsheba's husband killed.

Yes, David failed big time but that wasn't the end. It was a moment when all could have been lost, but it wasn't. With God, failure never has to be final! No matter how bad, how wrong, or how ashamed you may rightly feel, God is there for you. Even though you knew better, God is willing to meet you. At times like these, we need to turn to God like David did. Will there be consequences? Sure. Will there be pain? Of course. Does it have to ruin your life forever? No, absolutely not.

Steps and a Promise from Psalm 51:

[A Psalm of King David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba]

[1] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. [2] Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [3] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. [4] Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. [5] Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. [6] Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

[7] Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. [8] Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. [9] Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. [12] Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. [13] Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

[14] Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. [15] O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. [16] For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. [17] The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. [18] Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. [19] Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

As you carefully read Psalm 51, you will discover seven clearly definable steps to spiritual recovery in this prayer. In this article I'll outline the first four steps but you can find the other three in my book I Am With You Always. I warn you up front, however, using these steps will take great spiritual integrity and courage. But if you are willing to respond God's way, the God of the universe will be there for you.

Remember, these steps are not the solution to your problem - God is the solution. But the steps define a process that must occur in our hearts as we deal with guilt, shame, and consequences of our sin.

Step 1: Come Clean

The first step is to come clean with God. Get it out in the open. David was in denial for a long time until the prophet Nathan finally called him out. David's response was, "I have sinned against the Lord." According to Psalm 51:1, David dared to come clean with God because he shamelessly relied on God's unfailing love and compassion. If you don't know that aspect of God's nature, you will probably be afraid to risk taking the first step. If you're too scared to come clean, maybe you don't know that God's love and compassion never fail.

Step 2: Ask God's Forgiveness

David prayed, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." (Psalm 51:1-2). He clearly asked God to forgive him and remove his sins. We need to be that clear when we have blown it. No hedging about whether or not we've done anything wrong. Then we must ask God to forgive us of the specific sins we have committed.

Step 3: Accept Responsibility for Your Sin

David owned his own sin. Five times in verses 2-4, he took responsibility for his sin. He calls it "my iniquity," "my sin," "my transgressions." "My sin is ever before me," David said. "Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned." He admits in verse 5 that he has a sin problem that goes well beyond his actions with Bathsheba. Like all of us, sin was a problem in the core of his being, not just a symptom.

Step 4: Accept God's Forgiveness on God's Terms

As a pastor, I frequently see people trying to cut deals with God. This will never work. God provides a way to be forgiven, but it's not by trading a few good deeds or promising to make up for what you've done. Verse 7 says, "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Hyssop was a little herb the Jews would dip in blood for use in ritual cleansing. David's phrase pictures God performing a ceremonial cleansing. He accepted that God's mode of cleaning was sufficient because God was doing the clean-up.

You're probably giving some thought to how these steps apply to you. You may be remembering ways you've blown it in the past. It may be something others would easily excuse, but God's Spirit has spoken to you about it. Stop for a moment and be still. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit of God. Ask Him if there is any sin in your life that you need to address right now. Choose to take the first step now. Rely on the unfailing covenant love of God.

Chip Ingram is President of Walk Thru the Bible in Atlanta, GA, and Teaching Pastor of Living on the Edge, a national radio ministry. Walk Thru the Bible partners with the local church worldwide to teach God's Word in relevant ways for lasting life change. To fulfill this mission, Walk Thru the Bible creates and distributes high quality, award-winning resources in a variety of formats, helping individuals ?walk thru? the Bible with greater clarity and understanding. Walk Thru the Bible seminars are taught in over 45 languages by more than 50,000 men and women in over 90 countries; Living on the Edge radio ministry broadcasts on more than 800 radio outlets reaching nearly one million listeners a week; and more than 100 million devotionals have been packaged into daily magazines, books and other publications that reach over five million people each year.

To learn more about Walk Thru the Bible, please visit our web-site at www.walkthru.org.


Repentance: A Key To Powerful Living

How a Change Of Mind Can Change Your Life

If you have ever changed your mind about anything, then you understand the basis of one of the most important spiritual principles in the Bible: repentance.

What is Repentance?

Repentance implies a change in direction -- 180-degree course correction in our relation with God. It begins with a decision to turn from sin and surrender to the lordship of Jesus Christ. And it's vitally necessary for anyone desiring to draw near to the Lord and walk with Him everyday.

That's because every person is born with a sinful nature that finds expression in sinful actions. This sin creates a chasm between God and man that cannot be bridged by our human efforts (Romans 3:23, 6:23)

Our sin, however, is not the end of the story. In fact, God works through everything that happens in our lives, including our sin, to draw us to Jesus (John 6:44, 45; 14:6; Romans 8:28, 29).

No matter what you have done, God has made a way home -- through his Son, Jesus Christ. His death on the cross and triumphant resurrection secures for you all the blessings of God, including forgiveness. All you have to do is repent and turn your life over to Jesus (Acts 3:19)

This is what the Bible calls being "born again" of the Spirit of God (John 3:3,5). We enter into the born-again experience by repenting of our sin, yielding our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and trusting in faith that He will forgive and cleanse us from all sin (Romans 3:23; 10:13; 1John 1:8,9; John 1:12).

A Daily Walk

Repentance is also the key to growing daily in your relationship with Christ. That's because the Christian life is a journey -- we are not perfected in an instant. For the rest of your life, you will contend with the sinful and selfish tendencies of your flesh. The only way to overcome this ongoing struggle with sin is through repentance.

Some attitudes and actions are obviously sinful. The Bible calls these the "works of the flesh" and they include: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissension's, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, etc. Such works of the flesh, if not repented of, results in spiritual death (Gal. 5:19-21; James 1:15).

In fact, anything that is not a faith-filled response to our circumstances and relationships is sin (Romans 14:23; 1 John 5:17, James 4:17). Anxiety, worry, fear, bitterness, depression, pride, resentment and anger all have their roots in sin. Also, anything that takes the place of trusting in the Lord -- such as fortune-telling, psychics, horoscopes, numerology, astrology -- needs to be repented of.

Finding Faith to Repent

If you have been struggling with a besetting sin, repentance may seem like a difficult thing. But consider that the Bible says "the kindness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). Another verse lets us know that God is patiently waiting for us to repent (2 Peter 3::9).

Your heavenly Father is not looking for ways to punish you. Yes, God is just, but He is also a loving Father searching for the lost coin or the one lost sheep -- willing to leave 99 in the safe pasture to find the one that has gone astray.

One of the most powerful portraits of God's love can be seen in the parable of the prodigal son. After the son changed his mind and headed home, the Bible says, "while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). This is God's heart toward you when you come to Him in repentance.

As You Pray

God is patiently waiting with open arms, for His sons and daughters to come home. All it takes is humility on our part and faith to believe that a loving Father will hear our honest pleas and cleanse us of our sin.

Take a moment right now to repent -- to change your mind and turn from whatever is separating you from God and those around you. "Father, I believe You love me. Your Word says that it is your patience and kindness that leads me to repentance. So I come to You humbly, and confess my sin. I thank You that You forgive me by the blood of Jesus, and ask for a fresh cleansing of my body, soul and spirit. Teach me how to walk honestly before You in repentance every day. In Jesus name. Amen."

God's Word On Repentance

"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead" (Acts 17:30,31)

"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, in order that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (2 Cor. 7:9,10)

Scriptures For Study

Romans 3:23
Who has sinned?

Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30, 31
Who needs to repent?

2 Peter 3:9
Repentance and God's patience

1 John 1:8-10
God's promise if we repent

Luke 15:7
How repentance brings joy

Psalm 51
David's example of true repentance


Conviction vs. Condemnation

By Charles Stanley


How secure do you feel about your standing before God? Do you have a rock-solid assurance that, regardless of your sinful nature, you will spend eternity in the presence of God? Could it be instead that you struggle with doubts about your destiny after this life?

Some believers have trouble with this issue because they live by the inconsistency of their emotions. Facts are always more reliable than our feelings. The Bible offers you an eternal assurance that is crystal-clear. God intends for you to be stable and steadfast in your faith.

Perhaps you feel condemned and convicted. Romans 8:2 says that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."

Scriptural Principles:

1. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins. What is the difference between condemnation and conviction? "There is now no more condemnation of those who are in Jesus Christ" (Romans 8:1). Jesus also assured us that He did not come into the world to condemn it but to save it. (John 3:17) Therefore Christians are free of condemnation, but conviction is another matter. The Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts when we accept Christ as Lord. He awakens us to those things in our lives that are unpleasing to God-this is called conviction. It is the Spirit of God nudging us to avoid sin and live in the way God intends us to live.

2. The Holy Spirit assures us of God's approval. Beyond conviction of daily sin, the Spirit of God does something else. He lets us know not only when we have done something wrong, but when we have done something right. He is delighted on those occasions when He fills us with the satisfaction of knowing we are being obedient. He reveals God's approval, so that we can be encouraged that we have kept in step with the kind of life He wants us to lead. Therefore in every action we take, the Holy Spirit of God is guiding us to do what is right and pleasing to God.

3. The Holy Spirit speaks to unbelievers about their standing before God. How, then, is the Spirit of God manifest in the life of an unbeliever? He convicts that person of sin, just as He does for the believer. He penetrates the heart and makes an unbeliever aware of impurities in action and attitude. However, the Holy Spirit's primary focus is that individual's standing before God. He reveals the lack of a relationship to Christ, and He makes people aware of their danger of judgment before Almighty God. His great goal is to bring every unbeliever to confession, repentance, and salvation through the acceptance of the death and Resurrection of God's Son. His motivation is amazing love for every one of us.

4. The Holy Spirit speaks to believers about their relationship to Christ. While the Holy Spirit deals with unbelievers on the basis of their eternal standing, He relates to Christians based on the intimate personal relationship we have with Christ. He convicts us of our sin and disobedience, and He encourages us toward living the Spirit-filled life. He convicts, but He never condemns. As we have seen in Romans 8, there is no condemnation whatsoever for those who have become children of God and adopted into His Kingdom. Our sins have been forgiven once and for all, so it is our conduct that is the Spirit's focus, not our eternal standing.

5. We are free of condemnation because we are "in Christ." Romans 8:2 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are "in Christ." What does that phrase mean? The Apostle Paul uses it frequently, and it refers to the eternal relationship we have with Christ. At the moment we are saved, we enjoy a new standing before God. It is a perfect standing that results from all our sin, past, present, and future, being forgiven once and for all. No behavior or conduct can have any effect on that relationship while we are in Christ, because this forgiveness is something God alone has done.

6. We are free of condemnation because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Paul uses another important phrase about our new condition. He says we have been "sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13). Not only are we in Christ, but we have been "sealed" there permanently at the moment of salvation. We have become children of God, and what He has done cannot be undone. The Spirit has come into our lives in the same way "earnest money" is offered at the time of sale in real estate - as a pledge of the final culmination of ownership. The Spirit is God's pledge that we now belong to Him, and that someday we will live with Him eternally.

7. We are not free to sin or to waste our lives. The devil harasses us with feelings of condemnation, but those feelings are deceptions. Jesus has told us that He came into the world to save it rather than condemn it, and only if we reject Him will there be condemnation. Since you and I know that we enjoy that kind of eternal security, does it mean we are free to sin? Absolutely not. We are free to be accountable to Him, to serve Him, and to honor Him in every possible way. We are responsible to our God, and therefore we feel conviction rather than condemnation. As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you; Go your way. From now on sin no more" (John 8:11).

8. We can enjoy this freedom only when we accept the gift of eternal life. My friend, there is nothing in this universe that is more wonderful than the assurance of eternal security that we can enjoy. That tremendous freedom is only available to us, however, when we accept His Lordship and salvation. Jesus Christ, God's only Son, has already paid the price for our sins, otherwise we would face the full condemnation of God's righteous wrath. All we need to do is to say yes to the Holy Spirit and receive Christ as our personal Savior. Only then can we enter into all the joy He wishes you and I to receive.


Where is your standing before our loving Father? Do you know for a certainty that you have received His free gift? Have you accepted His forgiveness, been saved, redeemed, and are you being sanctified by the Lord each day?

If you are one of those people standing on the outside, wondering about Jesus Christ without receiving Him, I offer you this advice with all my heart. The wisest thing you can do is to lay aside your arguments and doubts. Walk away from those entanglements that hold you back from God's love. You may not understand everything, but God will accept you just as you are. Believe in Him and this very moment you will be washed absolutely clean, free of condemnation, and in the midst of His awesome grace.


The Landmine of Fear

By Charles Stanley


Have you ever considered how the power of your own emotions affects your life? Love, for example, influences our feelings, our behavior, and even our looks. So does fear. It can affect our thoughts and our conduct as well as our physical health. Apprehension also has the power to hold us back from all that God wants to accomplish in our lives.

Satan relies upon the emotion of fear because he wants you to miss what the Lord has planned for you. You may think that you have no particular fears, but the truth is that nearly everyone is afraid of something. Your fears may be hidden, and that's the very reason they're so dangerous.

The Bible offers you power over your anxieties, no matter what they may be. Isaiah 41:10 says, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Almighty God is greater than any terror the human mind can imagine, and therefore He wants us to walk in courage and faith.

Scriptural Principles:

1. Aspects of Fear. The human reaction of fear is not a sin, nor is it evil in itself. It has several forms, some of which are useful or even wise. Practical protective fear, for example, is usually good common sense. We need to fear the daily threats that lie within this world. This kind of fear helps keep us safe. There is also the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) This means that we are to reserve only reverence, honor, and exaltation for the holy God we worship. In other words, we are to stand in awe of Him. There is, however, a negative type of fear, which is a landmine. This is the kind of anxiety that enslaves. God told Joshua," Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). Fear is a normal part of life, but not one that should hold us constantly in its grip. Our heavenly Father gives us promise after promise so that we never need to be dominated by fear.

2. The Nature of Fear. Why is fear so damaging? First of all, it divides the mind. God commands Isaiah, "Do not anxiously look about you," and yet, that is exactly what fearful people do. They are constantly mindful of their apprehensions, looking nervously about instead of focusing on what the Lord wants them to see. Secondly, fear torments and punishes people - worry itself is often worse than the source of someone's fear. This damaging emotion enslaves us, as fright dominates all our goals and desires; it also blocks our spiritual growth, since we cannot build our faith while giving in to fear. Our anxiety is a way of saying we do not find God sufficient to protect us. In fact, the fearful person becomes more and more blind to the Lord's powerful promises. Since he feels he cannot trust God, he begins to assess and respond to his circumstances in his own strength and reasoning power - and then comes up empty in life. Fear simply does not fit the life of a child of God. We may have moments of fear, but we should handle them by quickly remembering God's promise in Romans 8:28. He will use all things for our benefit and His glory.

3. The Sources of Fear. Where does fear come from? It can be the product of sin. Someone who disobeys God will be fearful of the consequences - anxiety and guilt are a natural result of transgression. Fear can also result from things we have been taught. For example, parents can instill apprehension within us when we are ve ry young. The imagination, too, can create "shadow fears," which our minds convince us are real, even though they are not. Or, we dwell on some possibility until we are consumed with anxiety. Ignorance of God's Word is another source. Those whose hearts are not fortified by His promises are more susceptible to worry. The more we dwell upon His Word, the more courageous we will be. Doubt and poor self-image are also sources of fear. Those who live with apprehension expect the worst from life.

4. The Consequences of Fear. There are terrible results for those who give in to the tyranny of fear. Since anxiety creates a divided mind, a number of troubles plague a worrier's life. Such a person is afraid to take risks and, as a result, will be incapable of launching out upon those great adventures God has pre p a red for him. There will be indecision and procrastination, and therefore a very limited ability to achieve pleasing results in life. self-confidence is undermined by apprehension. A person afflicted by worry will undergo torment and suffering. He will give in to panic and irrational courses of action. In summary, fear is a cruel master. Its domination ultimately encompasses a person's entire life. Fearful people feel the overwhelming desire to be free from this tyranny. That freedom comes through trusting the power and love of God.

5. The Way to be Healed of Enslaving Fear. Begin by asking yourself a simple question: Do I really want to be free of fear? The answer should come easily, since no one wants to suffer. Secondly, recognize that the basic cause of fear is a failure to trust in the sovereignty of God. Psalm 103:19 tells us that "the LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all." You can believe the infallible Word of God! Then thirdly, you must make a choice to be courageous - to take your eyes off that object of fear, and gaze upon God instead. He will liberate you from those powerful emotions. Then you need to keep your heart and soul on the right track by meditating upon Scripture. Read and reflect upon Psalm 23:4; Psalm 27:1, 3; Psalm 46:1-2; and Isaiah 41:10-13. Keep these words of life before you at all times, and see how your fears fade away.

6. Why There is No Need to Fear. The Lord is with you. He is not out of reach in some distant place, but He is there beside you at every moment. He is your God, and He loves you more than even a mother or father ever could. He will strengthen you and He will help you. These are solid promises from His Word, and He has never broken a single pledge He has made. You can expect Him to fill your every need, no matter what obstacle you may face in life. You also have His assurance that He will uphold you with His righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10) His words to Joshua are also His words for you: "Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). According to Isaiah 54:17, no weapon formed against you will prosper. This is your wonderful heritage as a child of God.


Imagine living your whole life and missing out on all the good things the heavenly Father has prepared for you. Every single person in the world has but one opportunity to live this earthly life. My friend, there is absolutely no reason to spend that time in the vicious bondage of fear.

My prayer is that the next time you are afraid, and you start to feel anxiety wrap its coils around you, you will take hold of God's Word instead of giving in to your apprehensions. Don't anxiously look about you, but be strong and courageous! Your heavenly Father has given you His promise that He will never leave you nor forsake you. He wants you to be able to proclaim with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6)

No matter what the Lord calls you to do, He will give you the power to accomplish it. He calls you out of your areas of comfort to bless you, not to frighten you. Trust in Him and experience a resounding victory over the enslavement of fear.