Sin is destroying our intimacy with God. And I can prove it.
One look at our search history for our website reveals what’s heavy on people’s hearts: the most searched phrase on our blog is some variation of “when I feel distant from God”.
We all long to feel close to God and hate that feeling of distance from Him. We’ve shared a good blog post on the multiple reasons why this can be but I wanted to expand on one in particular: sin.
In a specific season in my life, one particular sin was destroying my intimacy with God.
Maybe me even saying that feels confusing too you. How could a loving God let sin separate us? And aren’t there specific verses that say nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38)?
It’s true, nothing can separate us from God’s love but we can experience less intimacy with Him as a result of us constantly choosing sin. Psalm 66:18 (KJV) says “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”
God can’t hear me if I sin? Aren’t I going to struggle with sin my whole earthly life? Yes, we will. I addressed this in Pray Confidently and Consistently, and I hope it is helpful:
“Regard” ( or “cherished,” as in the ESV) means “to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.” Those sins we see and continue, the willful choices we make—the ones we consider and decide to do anyway? These “cherished” sins create a distance in our prayer lives, and God will not hear our prayers. Evelyn Christenson, author of What Happens When Women Pray, defines “regard” and its effects like this: “If we are living in sin and liking it, if we are keeping it there, finding that it feels kind of good, if we’re regarding—nurturing, patting that little sin along—God does not hear us.”
For me, it wasn’t some sin that happened accidentally or on a whim that I confessed, repented of and moved on from that made me feel distant from the Lord. It was a sin that I delighted in and clung to. I chose it. I kept choosing it.
Romans 6:1 says “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”
Of course not! And there are a thousand good reasons to not go on sinning but one of the greatest consequences of our willful choices to sin is a distance from the Lord.
Our prayer lives are held hostage by the sins we go on delighting in.
I experienced this firsthand in a season of really struggling to come to God in prayer.
I think a piece that I didn’t fully understand until my experience, was that this sin I delighted in convinced me that coming to God in prayer was a waste. If God doesn’t answer the prayer of the one who goes on sinning, isn’t praying kinda pointless?
That’s where the enemy stepped in with his lies. So if I couldn’t pray, I filled my time and attention with worldly things. I could barely listen to worship without feeling awkward. So I started playing music that wasn’t exactly edifying.
I created a distance with God because I thought that was the only way to keep the sin. And I convinced myself that the sin was better than intimacy with God.
Truthfully, I didn’t really believe it but in the moments, I rationalized it.
I am likely making this sin sound much more dramatic than I should (and that might be distracting) but making light of it when I see how much it affects me isn’t the answer either. All that to say, I didn’t have some illicit affair or drug problem. So moving along… 😉
I had many moments of rational thinking and knowing I wanted to put it behind me, but I still struggled to resist. So even as I tried to pursue God, I kept feeling like I couldn’t really pursue God because praying felt impossible.
So my prayers started to slow down. In conviction, amount of time, and number of prayers.
Is that really what we think God wants for us? To go off in our own world and try to overcome sin without Him? Do we even think that’s possible?
The more removed I felt from the Lord, the more I convinced myself that this pet sin wasn’t so bad.
But at the same time, the thought of sharing it felt too big. There was this newfound shame around it.
Somehow I carried these two tensions: it’s not so bad and it’s really shameful.
Neither was what God wanted for me. But I wasn’t spending much time with Him these days to even remember.
I’m not sure where you’re at right now with the Lord but if you are missing the Lord while simultaneously entertaining sin here’s what I hope you don’t miss:
Sin will destroy our intimacy with God and I can confidently say that it’s not worth it.
Is there a nagging sin in your life that you enjoy and can’t seem to get rid of? Today is the day to dig it up by the roots. The easiest way to do that? Confess it to someone else.
Louie Giglio preached a sermon and years later, I still remember a nugget tucked in it about insulation (no one is getting to me) and isolation (staying away from others) and how the enemy will use these things to keep us bound by sin.
When we isolate ourselves from others and keep sin hidden, it spreads. It festers. It morphs. When we expose it to the light, it loses its power.
And I know that that is true because I saw it happen in my life when I finally opened up the parts of me that I would rather hide. As I shared with someone else about the sins I was struggling with, I began to feel free from the stronghold. The temptation didn’t disappear, but it almost seemed ridiculous to even entertain the temptation now.
Our intimacy with the Lord is something too precious to miss out on just so we can keep some pet sin in our lives.
We cannot choose a pet sin over intimacy with God!
We can only have one master. And if we choose sin, it certainly isn’t God who is master.
If the things searched for on our website are any indication of what we long for, we know that not only do we need intimacy with the Lord, we crave it too!
We were made for a relationship with our Father.
Throughout Scripture, we’re told that only God can satisfy. And I think it’s for the moments like this when we convince ourselves that sinful habit, thought, or action will satisfy us. It may look like it will in the short term, but it never lasts.
And if you’re stuck in that sin loop, you may have forgotten that.
This post is your sign that He’s ready for you to break free from what’s holding onto you.
Not tomorrow. Not next week, but today. This very minute.
He’s ready with open arms to embrace you and help you fight temptation and resist the devil and his schemes. You are not too far gone.
You will never be able to solve this apart from Him and then return to Him all cleaned up and pristine. He is the one who changes our hearts. He is the one we can run to.
You will never be able to keep it on the side and build intimacy with God back up while nursing a sinful habit. It cannot coexist. We cannot serve two masters.
And even though the reality may be that your prayers may go unheard as you nurse the sins you can’t let go of, I believe the humble prayers of a repentant heart are always heard. He knows when our hearts shift from defiant and going through the motions to prayers of surrender and desperation, even if we aren’t sure how to resist the coming temptation.
And friend, He desires intimacy with you more than you do. He loves you more than you know.
Intimacy with God is our taste of heaven on this earth. Why settle for a taste of what hell, a life apart from God, has to offer during your time on earth?
Our intimate relationship with God is a gift too precious to give up. My prayer today is that we would return to our first love. I’m telling you it is a sweet thing to give up something you think will satisfy for the only One who can.