Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sin Sucks

I'm noticing an interesting pattern emerging in this journey of self- and God-discovery: first, God generously and graciously reminds me of His love and my worth and identity in Him; then He hits me with an issue that needs to be worked through. One follows the other, over and over again. It's amazing to me, now that I've recognized the routine, how He so often leads me into the hard, slogging, discouraging but worthwhile work of becoming more like Him from a place of love and peace and rest.

So, after my wonderful waterpark moment with God (see my previous post for details), I was almost immediately challenged to take the next steps in dealing with an issue that has been occupying my heart and mind for far too long now. Sin sucks, you know? Especially sin that becomes habit - it sucks life, sucks truth, sucks hope, sucks joy, sucks peace, sucks self-esteem; and replaces those good things with guilt, shame, despair, self-hatred, self-deception, and lies. So much sin provides fleeting, temporary pleasure, but is so harmful over time. And oh, does it put up a fight when brought into the light! What a fierce battle I'm engaged in right now - ugh... It's so, so much easier, especially for a naturally lazy person such as myself, to allow sin to have its' way, to just give in and enjoy the forbidden fruit. Disciplining my mind and extricating my heart from the sin is proving to be darn near impossible at this point - the more I try, the tighter the grip it seems to have on me.

Are you ever afraid that God will one day arrive at the end of His patience with you, run out of forgiveness and grace, say "I've had enough!" and just walk away? Sometimes the thought crosses my mind, when I forget for a moment that God is God and not like me. Then I think of my relationship with my own children and how much I love them, and how often I have to forgive them. I do reach the "Enough!" moments, but they always pass and grace always prevails. And so God, who is an infinitely greater and more patient parent than I could ever hope to be, can always be depended on to forgive and forgive and forgive...like this:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
(Psalm 103:8-12)

As recently as a couple of months ago, I would have simply given this fight up in frustration, decided that it was not something I could change, that I'd just have to do my best to conceal it and fight it as I was able. But as God is dealing with me and healing me and growing me up in Him, something's changed in my response to sin, and to the Holy Spirit's conviction. For so many years, there was a very thin but very real wall that I had built between God and myself. So thin that I didn't even know it was there. If anyone had asked me if God loved me and I loved Him, I would have responded with an adamant YES! The wall was made of a strange combination of shame and fear and arrogant self-sufficiency. I didn't believe I deserved God's (or anybody's) love, therefore He must not really love me. I was afraid that I could never measure up to the impossibly high expectations I imagined God had for me. And I desperately wanted to be able to do this Christian life thing on my own - to be strong enough, wise enough, brave enough, tough enough...asking for help would reveal the weaknesses that I fought to conceal at all cost. All of this added up to the underlying belief that God must be (at least) a little bit mad at me. This was something I believed I simply had to live with, a basic fact of existence for me.

What freedom and relief came to my soul when I confronted this particular lie and replaced it with truth! God is NOT mad at me! God does NOT hold my sin against me! God's love for me does not depend even the tiniest little bit on my performance! God, in His endless grace and mercy, will forgive and forgive and forgive - Jesus' great sacrifice covers ALL my sin!  But, as Paul so comically and eloquently puts it,
What shall we say, then?
Shall we go on sinning
so that grace may increase?
By no means!
We are those who have died to sin;
how can we live in it any longer?
(Romans 6:1-2)

When we surrender our lives to Christ, we become new creations in Christ and our old self, with its' penchant for sin, is put to death. But so often, we forget to inform our new selves of the death, and the war with sin continues to rage. Satan will never concede defeat; and so we will (must!) persist in this sin-battle for the rest of our days - until we step into the eternal perfection of Heaven. But instead of trying to fight in our own power and failing, let's fix our eyes on Jesus and live in the victory He's already won for us!

(This is a song I discovered recently that provides a powerful reminder of what power lies in Jesus' death and resurrection - may it encourage you as much as it has encouraged me!)



Oh to see the dawn of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood

This the pow'r of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross

Oh to see the pain written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin
Ev'ry bitter thought ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow

Now the daylight flees now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two dead are raised to life
Finished the vict'ry cry

Oh to see my name written in the wounds
For through Your suff'ring I am free
Death is crushed to death life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love

This the pow'r of the cross
Son of God slain for us
What a love what a cost
We stand forgiven at the cross

CCLI Song # 4490766
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
© 2005 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

1 comment:

  1. Oh Joy, another good post! One of my former pastors often told the congregation that God is more concerned with our character than our comfort.....I see you are learning this too. But your reassurance that by His blood and sacrifice on the cross all our sin is 'poof'--gone! Hallelujah!