Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Sin

Embrace Grace Bible Study | Liz Curtis Higgs

He looked into my eyes, this person I loved, and said with conviction, “I don’t need God. I’m a good person.”

My heart sank. How could I help him understand? Yes, he’d behaved admirably the whole of his life. He was kind to strangers, generous in his giving, and always tried to do the Right Thing.

But was he good? Not according to Jesus, who said, “No one is good — except God alone” (Luke 18:19).

Oh dear. How do you tell someone you care about, “Your good isn’t good enough.” Sounds like the opposite of grace, doesn’t it?

You Are Not Good Enough!

Besides, aren’t we supposed to be good? Matthew 12:35 tells us, “Good people bring out good things from their good treasure” (CEB). So goodness must be possible, right?

It is entirely possible—but not without God. David the psalmist put it like this: “Apart from you I have no good thing” (Psalm 16:2).

So, if we’re not good, are we bad? Yes, we are. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). Doesn’t leave room for mostly good or fairly good. With God, it’s all good or nothing.

The time comes when we have to accept that we’re sinners, comparing ourselves not to each other — “Hey, she’s worse than me!” — but to the goodness of God.

Like the chapter title says, we have to “Embrace Sin.” We aren’t meant to celebrate it or wallow in it, just own up to it, so we can embrace the forgiveness we desperately need.

That’s where my loved one got stuck: he couldn’t see his own badness, so he saw no need for God’s goodness. Years later, my heart still grieves for him.

For all of us who’ve been there, are there, or know someone who is there, here’s a story meant to give us hope.

The Gospel of Mark

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. Mark 10:17

Matthew calls him a “young man,” probably not much older than thirty. And Luke calls him “a certain ruler,” so he’s a man of influence and means. Even so, he seeks out Jesus—in fact, “came running” (GW), then “greeted him with great reverence” (MSG), and “got down on his knees” (NLV).

Good start, right? Let’s see what he has to say.

“Good teacher,” he asked,… Mark 10:17

Or “Good Master” (GNV), if you like. This man calls Jesus “essentially and perfectly morally good” (AMP)—words reserved for God alone, as Jesus is about to remind him.

Then the man poses a question most of us have considered.

…“what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17

Whether his question is worded “can” (CEV), “shall” (KJV), “may” (YLT), or “should” (GW), the key phrase is, “I do.” He’s not asking for the gift called grace. He thinks this is all on him, that he has to do something to deserve “life everlasting” (DRA), “eternal salvation” (AMP), “the life that never ends” (ERV).

In good rabbinical fashion, Jesus responds to the man’s query with another question.

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. Mark 10:18 

He’s still back at the man’s greeting — “Good teacher” — and sees an opportunity to reveal an astounding truth. “What sayest thou, that I am good?” (WYC) Jesus asks, then doesn’t pause, waiting for an answer. He has the answer. Better still, he is the answer.

“No one is good — except God alone.” Mark 10:18

Aha! He’s not telling the man, “Don’t call me good.” Instead, Jesus is pointing to his own divinity, admitting, “No one is good except God!” (CJB) That is to say, him.

Even though Jesus is in his third and final year of ministry, I suspect this statement flew right over his listeners’ heads. Ours too. We definitely believe God is good. But we still cling to the idea that, at least some of the time, we’re pretty good too.

No better way to undo that kind of thinking than to take a gander at the Law.

The Ten Commandments

“You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” Mark 10:19

Right, we know all these. Some of the biggies from Exodus 20, plus one from Leviticus, 19:13, “‘Do not defraud.”

I confess, I’m in deep trouble here. In my lifetime I’ve broken all but one of the Ten Commandments. Yes, some of them after I embraced the grace of God.

I’m very sorry. But that’s the ugly truth of it.

Yet this young man is quick to say that he’s obeyed the whole list.

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Mark 10:20

How hard this man has worked at being good! He not only knows the Ten Commandments, he has also followed every one of them. “I have — from my youth — kept them all!” (MSG)

Wait until you see how the Lord responds.

Jesus looked at him and loved him. Mark 10:21

Oh, Jesus. You see right through him, don’t you? Just like you see through us. Our desire to please, our need to impress, our deep-seated longing to be good on our own is not hidden from you.

Yet it’s that second phrase that takes my breath: “Jesus felt genuine love for him” (NLT) and “his heart warmed towards him” (PHILLIPS). Compassion floods the Lord’s soul, like that of the father of the prodigal son, who started for home fresh from the pig pen: “his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him” (Luke 15:20).

Jesus not only sees us, he understands us, and so he loves us — not because we’re good, but because we’re in need of his goodness and grace.

Most of us can’t hide our feelings. When we love someone, it shows on our faces. The Lord doesn’t mask his emotions here either. “Jesus looked at the man in a way that showed how much he cared for him” (ERV).

The man has asked what he must do. So Jesus tells him and blows the man’s “righteousness” clean out of the water.

Feed the Poor

“One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Mark 10:21

Jesus is gently revealing the young man’s sin, and ours as well: the sin of thinking, “I’ve got this.” The Lord is showing us that, if we think we can earn our way to heaven with our own good deeds, that’s not going to cut it.

He knows we cannot manage goodness on our own, just like he knows this rich young ruler cannot bring himself to sell everything he has.

We all need Jesus. Period. He wants us to be united in him, made one in him, wholly dependent on him. He prayed to his Heavenly Father, “I in them and you in me” (John 17:23).

When we embrace the reality of our sin, we embrace the need for a Savior. That’s where I’m parked every day of my life. Help me, Lord. Forgive me, Lord. All day, every day.

As for our wealthy fellow, Jesus offers him an invitation.

“Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21

Uh-oh. “Then” means after the young man sells all he owns and gives it to the poor. Otherwise, he can’t follow Jesus.

At this the man’s face fell. Mark 10:22

Just as Jesus didn’t hide his emotions earlier, neither does this man now. It’s obvious by the downward curve of his mouth and the tight knot in his brow that he’s genuinely “upset” (ERV). Even more, he’s “dismayed” (CEB), “shocked” (CJB), “disheartened” (ESV), and “stunned” (HCSB).

No wonder. As Eugene Peterson puts it, “This was the last thing he expected to hear” (MSG). Knowing something of the Lord’s generous mercy, this guy surely expected to be handed a free Go-Straight-to-Heaven card.

Instead, he’s been reminded of what the disciples have done, leaving behind their nets, their boats, their families, and their homes to follow Jesus.

Footprints in the Sand

He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:22

This is so descriptive: “He walked off with a heavy heart” (MSG). Our hearts are heavy too. Even if we don’t have great wealth, we all have stuff we’d rather not sell, habits we’re rather not give up, sins we’d rather not confess.

This guy “owned much property” (NASB) and “had many possessions” (CEB), making his sacrifice greater. Yet we’re reminded of that verse, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25).

It comes down to this: are we ready to give up everything, our pride most of all?

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23

The young man didn’t only have a boatload of stuff; he had a boatload of self-righteousness. He didn’t come to Jesus the way the tax collector did, beating his breast and saying “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). No, the young man came confessing his goodness, not his sins.

Painful as it may be, when we come face to face with our sin, we’re finally looking in the right direction. “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).

When Jesus elaborates on the difficulty of entering the kingdom of God, the disciples are taken aback, and say to one another…

“Who then can be saved?” Mark 10:26

That’s really the question, isn’t it? Clearly we can’t be good enough. Who can hope to be humble enough?

Get ready, because you and I have heard this before.


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

Oh my. I chose this story before I knew the punch line: “with God, everything is possible” (CJB). He clearly keeps putting this truth in front of us, week after week, because we still haven’t fully grasped it.

Help us with our unbelief, Lord.

I promised you this story would offer us hope, and indeed it does. What are the chances he will open the doors of heaven for you? “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you let God do it” (MSG).

Now, it’s your turn:

When I wrote Embrace Grace, I’d imagined a very personal book read by one sister at a time, rather than a Bible study read by a dozen women, let alone an online blog read by thousands of women.

Today, looking at these closing questions, I’m thinking, Oh my. Can we be this honest with each other?

Yes, beloved, I think we can. Often the very act of committing our truth to words on the screen helps us move forward spiritually and emotionally. That’s what Embrace Grace is all about. Might you respond to one of the three questions below, adding your answer under Post a Comment?

  • How — and how often — do you confess your sins? Do you pray about them? Write them out in your journal? Share them with a trusted friend?

My heart’s desire is to confess to the Lord my sinful thoughts, words, or actions as soon as I commit them — or as soon as I realize what I’ve done, which sometimes takes a little while. I tell the Lord in prayer first, then ask forgiveness of others when needed. That’s definitely the harder part for me. I hate wounding or disappointing anyone, ever.

Still, I’ve learned ignoring a sin or trying to justify it is pointless. The Holy Spirit is going to keep gently prodding me until I fess up. The sooner I confess my sins, the sooner I can move past the shame/guilt stage into the repentance/gratitude stage.

  • Are there secret sins in your life that no one knows about? Might you be willing now to whisper them, knowing that only the Lord is listening?

I’m whispering, Lord, though you already know what I’m going to say. Thank you for listening. Again. Thank you for forgiving me. Again. Most of all, thank you for strengthening me, so there won’t be a next time.

  • An old Scottish proverb states, “Open confession is good for the soul.” How might going public with our past help our hearers? And how might it benefit us?

From the beginning of my Christian walk I’ve aired my sins in print and on the platform — sharing my Former Bad Girl testimony, and being open about my weaknesses and stumbling blocks. I know well the power of confession, and pray that it not only sets me free, but far more to the point, sets my sisters free.

As I say in Embrace Grace, “When we confess our sins, they no longer exert any power over us.” In being honest with God and with each other, we defeat the enemy of our souls and douse his fiery darts. As David prayed, so can we: “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:2).

The forgiven life is one of freedom. How I long for you to embrace that truth with your whole heart!

Your sister, Liz

37 Responses to Embrace Grace Bible Study: Embrace Sin

  1. Jennifer January 30, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    What a relief to finally fall face first into repentance! The day I confessed my helplessness is the day He stepped in and all the shame and guilt were replaced by mercy and love. Thank you, Liz, for being open and transparent.

  2. Brandi Luiz January 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    These questions seem to tug at my heart the most. I feel that I need to pray more over my past sin~ not my daily issues as much~ but my past is the one that continues to affect my whole life. My husband, my marriage, my heart hurts as I sit daily affected by my past mistake~ the pain it has caused that continues to haunt my husband. He says he’s forgiven me, but hes mad at God. That seems crazy to me~ because God didn’t make me do it~ I did. I knew it was wrong,t he moment it happend, but didn’t take care of the problem. Now my husband drinks more, skips church, hangs out with single men (who aren’t Christians) won’t socialize with my friends or the “church people” all because I made a mistake. So I pay, everyday, the consequences of my choice~ my husband can’t be close to me, love me, make love to me, love God or love the church because of me and I face it over and over again~ each day. So yes, maybe if I didn’t try to ignore it but pray about it every day ~ that my husband could find peace and we both could be happy again.

    • Cheryl January 30, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      Brandi, I am not a marriage counselor but I know one thing for sure. You are not responsible for your husband’s sin. Please seek out a trained counselor, pastor or someone who can show you that if you have asked for God’s forgiveness and if you have truly accepted Christ as your Savior, HE has already paid for your sin and you must forgive yourself. I put off going to see a marriage counselor for 20 years, but I truly know that I am not responsible for my husband’s sin. You can help him by getting help. Praying for you.

    • Brenda Williams January 31, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Absolutly, Brandi, pray continuously. God will help heal the hurt. I agree with Cheryl here. I know prayer works. He is there for you. Pray for your husband daily and pray for your relationship daily, too.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

      Oh, dear Brandi, we ALL hear the anguish in your words. All of your husband’s sins are of his own doing. They are not because of your past mistakes. Please don’t take his sins on your shoulders!

      Cheryl is right: marriage counseling for both of you would be ideal, but if he isn’t interested, then seeing a counselor yourself would be very wise. Prayer is always the right thing to do. But only a relationship with God is going to make your husband truly happy. Until he is willing to seek that, you must focus on your own relationship with God and on getting spiritually and emotionally healthy. It’s the wisest thing you can do for yourself and for your marriage.

      Praying RIGHT NOW as I post, Brandi!

      • Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

        Brandi- This sounds just like the heart cry Liz is addressing in this book. I have recieved comfort in the fact that Jesus CLEANSED me from ALL sin when I was open with it. The big news was that I felt dirty from the sin of my spouse, it was false guilt, yes, but it was there. A counselor asked me why that wouldn’t be covered too? BINGO. He cleanses ALL unrighteousness., mine, his, yours. I am still praying and waiting for the happy ending. It has been years, but Jesus has drawn nearer each day. I will pray you can find a good support system or counselor,

        • Brandi Luiz January 31, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

          thank you my girlfriends. I appreciate your words.
          I will continue to pray. He won’t do counseling, I even suggested “if it would help me would you come with me?” he wasn’t interested. I need to give it to Jesus and try not to own it. Thank you!

  3. Debra Weiss January 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Great post, Liz. It all comes down to letting go and letting God. If I’ve hurt someone I love – as soon as I realize it – I try to confess my sin to God and offer a sincere apology to my loved one.

  4. Debbie January 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    Loved every word and felt enriched by the Spirit Liz, and,as always you’re shining the light on what seems to be our biggest sin, putting anything before Thou shalt love thy God” first. Until we start obeying this commandments, we’ll never obtain the blessings attached to it. Riches are counterfeits for power and self-sufficiency which is continuously being confused with self- reliance.
    Thank you sister for wonderful books and especially for your testimony.
    Faithfully ~
    Debbie Avila

  5. Dori January 30, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    I had come to a very bad place in my life a few years ago. I was dealing with a jagged past and felt I could no longer live in this world. I was very desperate and desperate people do desperate things. By the moving of the Holy Spirit, he dropped someone in my life that made a very simple statement. This person said, Don’t you think it is time to get better? Wow… really? That is an option? When I realized, I could get better, it was a remarkable day. When I understood that I couldn’t not fix myself, only God could, it was glorious. When I learned I could receive grace, I dropped to my knees and asked for God’s forgiveness. My daily journey is packed with God forgive me, please help me, please hold my hand, and a thank you Lord! When I finally embrace my sin, I could walk knowing although unworthy as I was, how much more Loved by God I really was. My sins and my past no longer rule my life, my Jesus does. The path to this day wasn’t easy, but it was totally worth it, because God is just that into me. I am his and he is mine. Thank Jesus!!!!!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

      Your testimony is an encouragement to all who know you, Dori! Thanks for sharing a bit of it here.

  6. Betsy C. January 30, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    I pray for the forgiveness of my sins daily, never write in a journal, but sometimes share with others. Although I should confess to others more often: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Feeling the Grace of God penetrate your soul is a wonderful feeling.

  7. RaZella January 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    #1) I confess my sins much more frequently now that I once did. Sometimes hourly. I’ve been trying to grab them as they happen and give them up right then. Some are harder than others to TRULY repent of, however, I will not stop trying. I’ve lived under guilt and shame and non-repentance, I know what pain it produces. My prayer is to never go back there. I’ve found that I reach out now more about my struggles, or “temptations”, and ask for prayer instead of holding it in. 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse I was encouraged to memorize during a time of sin and unrepentance. It has been a verse that I have often gone back to, when guilt or shame or temptation try to bury me. I am not alone. I am not “the only one”. He is faithful. He is just. And His cross is always there waiting for me to fall before it, and doing so heals my bruised soul.

    #2 & 3) I once lived in a place of deep secret sins. Guilt and shame breed rapidly in that environment. It becomes a trap that ensnares you and it is so painful and damaging. Guilt and sin swallow you over and over again when you least expect it, in the car, in the shower, cooking dinner, days, weeks, and months later. It was an unbelievable freedom when I finally confessed those secret sins. Although in my case, it wasn’t a willful confession at first, it was drug out of me by one who loved me. Yet, it allowed the first rays of light of freedom.
    And as the light begin to shine on the sinful dark broken parts of my heart, healing was finally able to take place. Confessing to God, falling down before him, turning completely away at whatever the cost from that sin, brought me freedom and an understanding for other women where before I was so critical and judgmental. When I think of “Embracing Sin”, especially after reading this Chapter again, I think about how God, when we confess and repent and are renewed by Him, can use that sinful past and turn it into something that will ultimately be for His glory. Sometimes guilt does try to linger, and I am so much faster now to immediately give that up to God too, because it immediately reminds me of how much I need Jesus. And then, Jesus reminds me how much He loves me.
    I have a growing peace now I have not felt in a long long time. Maybe ever. And I know that I am changing and growing in ways I never have before. My prayer for any woman out there who is hiding, and feels that she is so far gone there is no hope, my prayer is that she is able to see His hope, His freedom, and His love. Because you are NOT alone. I was there. Many of us were there. Are there. This Chapter is so hard to understand I think, however, once we do really understand it, man, what freedom Christ has available to gift us with lavishly.

    Thank you Liz for this study.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

      Bless you for your honesty, RaZella, and for letting us know that, however difficult the journey, it is SO worth it.

  8. Becky Frith January 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Sin is not something I spend a lot time thinking about because I know I am totally forgiven, but that is also a sign that my pride covers my eyes so that I don’t see my every day sin, sin that I still need to confess. I once commented to my pastor that everyone needs to realize they are a sinner before they can accept Christ and his response was along the lines of pointing out sin in others may be a way to fill churches but it doesn’t fill heaven. I still don’t understand his thinking. How can you accept His grace if you don’t acknowledge that you are a sinner and in need of it? Any one have any thoughts on this? The Holy Spirit is the one to convict us of our sin, yet I’ve heard Bible teachers that say we only receive the Holy Spirit after salvation. Liz, I liked your observation that God is the one who wants to have a relationship with us, and we have to be open and take the forward motion to make it happen. I need to feed the relationship by reading His Word, attending services with other believers, praying, praising God and continually seekng forgiveness for MY short comings…aka SINs

    • Tammy Howard January 31, 2013 at 5:26 am #

      Wow, part of the process of moving closer to God is to lighten the load on our journey. Confessing our sins, knowing we are truly forgiven and ultimately leaving it at the foot of the cross (not picking it back up thinking it is part of our luggage ).
      I struggle daily with barely getting past asking for forgiveness while almost immediately tripping over my next mistake. I love Jesus with all of my heart and I think it is time I realize along with love comes trust. The fact that we are told in scripture that we are forgiven when we confess should be enough, but until we embrace that as Truth, we confess, but still carry it with us until we are so bogged down we can’t take another step. Which in my mind would nullify the confession.
      Thank God Jesus knows our hearts, my heart! He is willing to hear us, hold on to us and cheer for us to be made whole through Him. So no matter how broken sin can make us, it is powerless when we call on Christ to remove it.” Whiter Than Snow” has the most beautiful imagery to me, thank God for the cleansing and healing power to become exactly that.
      Thank you so much Liz for making this personal journey toward healing ,and ultimately toward freedom from our burdens, so much more meaningful through your insight as well as guidance from above. Our focus needs to be on God so He can continually light our way.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Becky, I’m not sure I understand what your pastor is saying, but I do know that pointing out others’ sin is not what Christ has called us to do. Just the opposite!

      I’m thinking of this familiar passage from the Gospels: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-42).

      When we Embrace Sin, we are in effect dealing with that plank. Lord, help us learn from our beloved Carpenter!

      • Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

        I wonder if he meant, there is a place to move on to after the stand up from the alter call. Maybe he is thinking along the lines of helping people be Kingdom Christians, living out the gospel in graditude type thing. Just athought. Both points are valid if you consider it like that.

      • Becky Frith February 3, 2013 at 11:53 am #

        Liz, My discussion with our pastor, had more to do with preaching that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, not individuals and their sins. My point was that we must realize we are sinners before we can accept God’s Grace. Perhaps he also thought I was meaning that we should start pointing fingers at individuals. That was not my intent at all.

  9. Linda H. January 31, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    I realized through reading this chapter and question #1 that I have never really embraced my sin and truly allowed Jesus to free me. I am always trying to be the “good” girl, impress, please and point out others sins instead of facing my own. When I do confess, I walk away and do the very thing I don’t want to do and then feel the guilt and shame. Thinking I cannot ever be redeemed. Always looking back and regretting my choices that impacted my late teenage years that spilled over into my adult life for a time. Too many “What ifs??” I love to write in a journal and I think today is the right time to start to confess in writing daily my sins and ask the Lord to truly free me and trust His unconditional love for me. To stop looking back….The Lord has “got it”, I don’t need to make everything or everyone right. I need to trust Him that my past is gone and forgiven. He no longer remembers it. I need to begin with honesty and transparency before my Lord and with others about my sins. I care now for my elderly Mom and everday I am faced with the guilt she brings into my life and did as a young girl. God is revealing to me His love, His hope, His truth. I must surrender it all to Him because it doesn’t matter what my Mom thinks, the Lord is truly the only one I need to please. I am so excited to think how wonderful it is going to be to not live in guilt, shame and condemnation as I daily confess to Him. He already knows everything anyway.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      THRILLED to hear about your prayer journal, Linda. The perfect place to confess your sins before the Lord. May your time with him give you a new sense of freedom!

  10. Elizabeth Hoagland January 31, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    WOW, Liz! This is excellent, not to mention thought provoking! I confess I may write “cleansing” in my journal, implying a sin (or 2 or 3….), but I do not SPELL IT OUT…My justification is God knows & heaven knows I wouldn’t want my FAMILY to see it! Sometimes, and I mean ONLY sometimes do I share w/ a friend. BUT….THAT’s when prayer warriors come in handy and they help. What I continually forget is it’s Jesus who is our burden bearer. I just need to TURN IT OVER to Him and LET IT GO. Thanks for another embrace with grace. Hugs over to you!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      You are so right, dear friend: Jesus IS our burden bearer. This is the verse I run to when I forget that: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). So simple, so profound. Hugs back!

  11. Stacy Mc January 31, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    This was a very good chapter for me. I confess my sins daily and when I allow my heart to be open to God He reveals to me what it is I am needing to confess. But what I am stuck on, and you covered in this chapter – is not being able to let go of my past mistakes, the large ones not the little ones, the ones that have effected my life and those of all around me. Daily my sins are in my face from bad decisions and mistakes. Lots of what if’s fill my mind that I am unable to let go of. I am immobile with fear of making more mistakes. I know I am forgiven and I know that it is me that is hanging onto them, not God but I still just can’t seem to let them go as I may be forgiven but I will never in this life time be free from those mistakes. I don’t know how to find peace and joy in the midst of the pain, I don’t know how to find redemption and move on instead of wallowing in the mess. This is where I am stuck.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Bless your heart, Stacy. We all live with the consequences of our past mistakes, yet what CAN be put aside forever is the guilt and shame. That’s what is nailed to the cross. That’s what Christ has taken care of for you.

      As for future mistakes, I remind myself daily, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Amen to that!

      The next chapter of Embrace Grace is Embrace Forgiveness, and THAT one is especially for you. You’ll see why when you read it, sis!

      Praying for you to become unstuck, Stacy…

  12. Brenda Williams January 31, 2013 at 10:14 am #

    What a great chapter. So meaningful to me. Bless you, Liz.
    I confess my sins to God in prayer. If I have hurt someone, I try and make it right. I send a card or call and continue to pray until I feel peace. I still do no feel peace with my brother and sister-in-law. I do not feel they have forgiven me and I don’t want to be around them. They do not speak to me when we gather as a family. I have tried many times and I just feel that I’ve wronged them and it will never ever be like it was before. Especially because they do not want it to be. I have to let that go and go on ahead, but it still hurts. God helps me and I have many trusted and Christian friends on whom I can rely. Others feel it is my fault and I just have to get over it. It guess I do.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs January 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

      I think it’s okay to steer clear of them for a season. Let them work through whatever it is they have to work through. If you’ve asked their forgiveness and shown them you sincerely wish your relationship to be restored, then I’d step back and let time and the Lord soften their hearts.

      How people choose to believe and behave is their responsibility. Ours is simply to focus on honoring and pleasing the Lord we love. “Get over it” is a difficult thing to hear. Think instead of “getting through it” with God by your side.

      Thanks for sharing, Brenda.

  13. Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    What was major for me was to sin as a condition rather than just an action. I grew up listing the commandments I broke and how often and confessing them. When I reaized the bigger picture of sin, the general wretchedness of my soul WOW! I could relate to that and was desperate then for the CURE. This cleared away much garbage and led to my rebirth, The concept of this condition keeps me oft at the foot of the cross begging for mercy. The rest of my time I spend dancing for joy to for remission.

  14. Karla January 31, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Oh Liz, thank you for this study and this topic! I have really never heard that story in scripture explained so well! I wanted to cry, “yes, yes, yes…that’s the whole of it, no one is good, but God!” Why do we try to proclaim our righteousness to Him?
    I have come to see my sin and need of a savior more and more since I’ve been married and had children. I would daily write in my journal and plead for the Lord’s forgiveness for my own pride and tendency to lose my temper with my children. To put it bluntly, I more of a “Martha” than a “Mary” and would often have the attitude of “look at all that I’m doing, why don’t you tell someone to help me?” I would ask the Holy Spirit to fill me so that it would be His life flowing through me to those around me and not my own selfish tendencies. What grieved me though(and still does) was how many times I had to write the same thing. So, I stopped writing them, but I still quietly confess them. I still sometimes fear that I am the person who would be better off having a millstone tied around my neck and thrown into the sea because maybe I was a stumbling block for my children. There has been victory in some areas, mainly because “love covers a multitude of sins”. I’ve asked for forgiveness of my children multiple times and have just tried to communicate that the Lord is the only perfect parent. I pray my family sees Jesus’ perfect love even through my imperfect love.
    Sharing these things with others can help them know that they are not alone in their sin, maybe help them recognize their need for a savior and give the courage to confess. Sharing with other women has taken a burden off me and opened a flood gate of tears that God has used for healing. There is also so much freedom in not trying to hide things…secrets are too heavy of a burden to bear. I think of Ps.32:3-5…can so relate!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs February 8, 2013 at 2:14 am #

      Karla, I truly believe that asking your children’s forgiveness is the very best way to demonstrate what a relationship with God requires of us: humility. Well done.

  15. Sherry February 1, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Liz, thank you for another amazing lesson! Thanks too, for challenging us to embrace our sin! After reading your Embrace Sin study, I realized I do not confess my sin as often as I should! Recently, I asked the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to any current sin and asked him to show me areas where I need to improve on. To my surprise I immediately knew of an area I needed to confess. I confessed to God, to the person I hurt, prayed and asked God for His strength. I then even confessed to a trusted christian friend and asked her to pray for me. (This is great because she can keep me accountable!) I’m confessing that when I’m really hurt or by something someone did or said, I can respond by either saying or thinking something hurtful back. Then the offense eats away at me. I have learned to give the issue over to God and He is helping me to respond in a more loving way and to let go of the offense. I’m learning that “daily” we need to examine ourselves of any sin and confess often! Sometimes I wonder why I/we don’t do this! Embracing our sin, asking for forgiveness, and giving it to God can bring a sense of freedom. I like the verse in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God not only forgives but He purifys us so we can start over fresh, no mater how big or small the sin is. He loves us just the way we are and He is willing to forgive us, cleanse us, and give us His strength to handle the hard stuff. Thanking God for His amazing love and the daily strength He gives me!

  16. KayJay February 1, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    I am teaching a class on Philippians and this week we were studying from chapter 3. We listed all the confidences that Paul could have stood on, his “heritage” so to speak. Then we listed what we may stand upon and it was so eye opening for me when I realized that sometimes I pull out the “family line” as a trophy to qualify myself instead of remembering Who I am to the Lord and Whose I am. He is my strength, he has blessed me with the gift to teach, it’s not about me. I confess that sin of pride to you, dear lady. Thank you for your openness and for keeping our focus on Jesus, the Lamb of God, our Saviour!

  17. Kathy February 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Hey chicks! Wow-I love this -it just stuck out to me. “When we confess our sins, they have no power over us.” That just says it all! When I’m quick to confess and ask forgiveness of my sins, I just feel so much better. God loves us and wants us to be happy. So when I confess and ask forgiveness -I’m much happier. He loves us, oh how He loves us. Thank you Liz for such a valuable eye-opening lesson. K

  18. Michele Lemiere February 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I try to confess as soon as I discover a sin. However, I had a difficult time recently. When I look back in my life, I see many things I could have done better if I had asked the Lord more specific and listened to Him. It became bigger and bigger, and I discovered that Satan was aaccussing me. Then I brought that before the Lord and He reminded me that He has forgiven me, He has used me (even it may be possible that it could have been better if I listend more to Him) and that I had to say, like Paul, that I left the judgment about me to God. “I do not even judge myself”. That was a great turning point, it gave me peace of God.
    Thank you, Liz, may the Lord bless you richly.
    Michele Lemiere

  19. Kimberlee Medlock February 4, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    I realized I had never been able to let go of what had happened in my past that I had no control over and the sin that God had already forgiven. I was trying to do it by myself. I read every book I could get my hands on. Battlefield of the Mind, and Every Woman’s Battle, were just a couple. When I had done all I could do, I confessed to others in a safe environment of like minded individuals and was able to let go and move beyond my past and I was 37 years old (I’m just a little stubborn and independent, not always a good thing). Jesus had opened the door, but I had let go and walk through it into the long-awaited freedom that He offered. Let me tell you, freedom is nice!!! I was married less than a year later to a my very own Boaz. He looks forward, not back. I waited 38 years for him and he was well worth the wait. I had been carrying a list of the attributes (mostly character traits) I was looking for in a God-loving husband since January of 2004, he matched every one. He had been carrying around a list for six months (mostly physical attributes) and I matched everything on his list. Every day is still a honeymoon after 2 1/2 years together! God is SO good!

  20. Deanna February 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    Oh My! That beam in my eye, that beam in my eye!! I believed that once the BIG one was confessed and I was “washed” clean again that I was “good”. Now years later and an ever deepening relationship with God has just recently shown me that the “beam” wasn’t necessarily the biggest problem…it’s all those pesky little prickly, splinters that keeping jabbing away at my compassion, resulting in quiet but lethal condemnation toward others all the while forgetting that not only was i once “there” but BY THE GRACE OF GOD GO I!! And THEN I read this week’s study…BAM! There it is again…over and over in the past few days. Thank you Lord for showing me this fatal flaw in my heart. Help me to be humbled in your Presence instead of smug in my position. Thank you Miss Liz for more revelation in to my sinful nature that I may follow HIM more closely, hanging on to even His “threads” for continued healing.

  21. Marge Schaffer February 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    I am so thankful that I realized not only am I a sinner but that Jesus died to take away my sins. No one becomes perfect at the time of salvation, just forgiven. A lot of people like to put sin on a scale of 1-10, if u lie that is not as bad as murder. WRONG ! So my sisters stop beating yourself up over what u think is a worse sin then somebody elses. SIN is SIN and we committ it every day, BUT GOD is mercyfull to forgive us our sins. That dosen’t give us licence to keep committing sin, but to continue to ask Jesus to help us overcome our sin acts. For some people it happens quickly, for others it takes alittle longer to brake the habit of sin.

    Always remember Jesus sees our heart, our motive, he understands our struggles And He loves us.

    As a born again Christian I have messed up many times, but not as much as I did when I first became a Christian. The closer your relationship with Jesue the eaiser it is to tell ths devil to go to hell and stay there and to leave u alone because u are a child of KING JESUS.