Allow me to paraphrase a comment made at my house church:
If you are punishing yourself for the wrong you committed, you are not trusting Christ's work on the cross, cheapening his grace.
I do that a lot. I brood in my failings for a while til I get pretty raw and unnerved by my depravity. When I can't stand it anymore, or feel the strong pull of the Spirit, then I'll make the Prodigal's walk home.
We threw away our "Bondage Sin" on Sunday. There was a big trash can and everything. I wrote down Fear of Intimacy on a piece of orange construction paper, crumpled it up and threw it in the bin.
It didn't do much for me.
Here's why: I knew my bondage to this particular sin wasn't going to go away until I presented it to the Body of Christ, openly and vulnerable. No one knew of my fear, so it was free to still haunt me. There is power in open confession. The Catholics have that going for them. That why I stayed behind at house church tonight and shared my problem with my pastor. It got a little awkward and uncomfortable, mainly because I was so exposed... the very thing I fear. What if my pastor responded with a "ahhh, wow! I don't know what to say about that. That's pretty pathetic, what's wrong with you?" Now I know he would never have responded that way, but there is an irrational way about sin to skew one's perspective.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 6:12
What are the schemes of the Enemy? I know someone who's parents are... well, not. He desperately wants a normal family experience, the thing most of us take for granted or even complain about. One morning this week he said he didn't believe in God anymore because how could God hold out on him like He has. The truth of that situation is he was in too much emotional pain to recognize all God has done and is doing in his life. Because it wasn't an exact answer to prayer according to his design, God holds out on him. "Where's God in keeping you in the same shitty condition month after month?" whispers the appointed demon to this guy I know. "You are just too draining, Michael, it's not worth the effort to try with you" snides my Wormwood.
It's hard to continue not knowing God's doing what's needing to be done. I see a need to just be the child of God that I am (or at least trying to figure out who I am), but there is also this need to act, to step in faith, to expose myself to others and trust I'll be received warmly because God's Body does not disappoint.
And so I say things are not as they seem. I present self-sufficient but I'm in need of fellowship. There are forces at work that seldom go noticed for what they really are: lies from the Enemy. My self-inflicted atempts to punish myself accomplish nothing but a temporary illusion of self-redemption.
Thank you Jesus for your reach. No pit spans too deep that you can't pull me out when I reach too.