Have you learned anything new about yourself during this season of isolation and quarantine?
I’m a bit introspective anyway, perhaps too much. Yet, the light of God’s word helps me process self-discoveries and teaches me what to make of them.
I’m prone to sin. This isn’t new. What’s new is discovering all the subtle ways I avoid facing it. It’s like that cabinet I hadn’t opened in a while – then upon opening it, watching a thriving community of bugs scatter. Whoa! It’s disgusting in there!
Part of my proneness to sin is the illusion that I’m not that sinful, my sins are not that bad, and therefore, I needn’t get all twisted up about them. Plus, Jesus covered my sins, so I’m free to ignore them, right? Meanwhile, my ignored sin takes over the cabinet and make babies.
My assumption that I’m not all that bad leads to taking my present sin lightly. When I do, I think too lightly of God’s forgiveness. It’s a very concerning thing to take a view of the cross of Christ for anything less than it is – where Jesus took on Himself the wrath of God for sin. Wrath that would otherwise be directed at me.
How does God view the cross of Christ and sin? It’s important that I view them the same way. I know that now and that it was pretty silly for me to avoid seeing it. Just in case you have avoided it too, I wanted to share what came of this struggle.
Lowest Effective Dose
When I compare myself to an imaginary selection of worse humans, I assume I only need a small helping of God’s grace and forgiveness. I’m ignoring the costliness of “even a small portion” of God’s grace, as though it could even be apportioned in doses according to human badness.
My self-assessment assured me, “I’ve got this, I’m doing OK down here, Jesus, you can worry about people who don’t have it together like I do.” This way, I can retain control of my life and keep (in my mind) Jesus at a safe distance, but on speed dial.
If He’s too close, He might interfere somewhere I’d prefer He didn’t.
God’s word doesn’t allow me to hold the view that Jesus is distant or disinterested. Plus, my sin makes its own obstacles that require He and I talk.
Not for Sissies
Speaking from experience, it’s quite scary facing one’s own sin. Shocking. In my case, astonishingly astonishing. Can one be astonished at their astonishment? If so, I have been. It should not have been a shock to discover that I have been exceedingly sinful. But when the Bible speaks about that, I always assumed it was talking about other people.
Must we examine our sin? Here’s the reason it’s important to go there… to open the cabinet…
It will change your life. Don’t deprive yourself of becoming fully convinced of your great need for Jesus, and for the full price He paid for your sin. Do you really know how much you needed Jesus to die in your place? I didn’t really want to know, but I needed to know.
My relationship with Him changed when I saw the scope of my sin and my powerlessness to do a darn thing about it. It took my breath away.
I can’t say that I’ve gone about discovering this the “right” way. If “Do it yourself” is your battle plan against sin, I can save you some time.
Fancying myself a problem solver, I went head on grappling with my sin as though I might be able to corner it and kill it on my own. I felt driven to exhaust every possibility: To take inventory of it, to try to lessen it, to cover it, and to stop it from growing. All this was very frustrating, fruitless and exhausting. Part of me already knew I was outmatched. Another part, unconvinced, said “Hold my Diet Coke.”
Dead Elephant in the Room
Please forgive the analogy, but my approach has been like trying to move a dead (but growing) elephant out of my bedroom. Let’s call the elephant Sunny, and say that she represents my sin nature and the sins that emerge from it. Every day, I’m stunned to wake up to Sunny’s continuing presence, her size, her immovability, and no evidence of progress. Adding insult, it even looks a little worse than yesterday.
But, I won’t give up, not yet.
Self-sufficient Laura is determined to keep trying to make some progress, so that when I do call on Jesus, He’ll see I’ve been trying, and I’ve cleaned some of it up.
But Sunny overwhelms me. She dashes my hope that I could ever make any progress or have something to show for myself. Isn’t there something good in me, perhaps, or a little bit of my own strength? Is there something I can achieve that would give me some “bargaining power,” something to “bring to the table?” Then I could ask for what I want from God and expect something in return.
As if He has ever withheld anything from me that He knows I need…
Sunny dared my ridiculous ideas into showing themselves, this unruly mob of unaddressed notions. Sunny challenged my pride, self sufficiency, and desire to be my own god to all band together and fight. But all I have is no match for Sunny, nothing to make a dent in my sin. Even what I bring to the fight against my sin is driven by my sin. My fight to be my own god is an internal fight against myself and a fight against the One true God. How in the world did I end up fighting against Him?
That’s when you know the devil is smarter than you will ever be. So, just know when you are tempted to say “Not today Satan,” he laughs and says, “every day, and you don’t even realize it.”
The Fight You Win by Surrendering
My sin runs deep, but God’s grace deeper, higher, wider.
I am grateful for my dead elephant. She taught me about my sin and how desperately I need Jesus. I learned the scope of my need and experienced my powerlessness against it firsthand, over and over. Rather than thinking I wasn’t all that bad, I knew I was in trouble.
No amount of my trying, pushing, wishing, ignoring, or anything could budge the weight of my sin. I was powerless to attain the life I thought wanted to live. I had also cut myself off from the life I could have in Christ, if only I would:
- Recognize the real size of my need for Him
- Repent from my willfulness against Him
- Trust His complete atonement for all my sin (and stop trying to help, as if I could)
- Surrender my life, it’s desires, fears, plans, demands, and hopes to Him
- Daily follow Him, fighting the fight of perseverance in Him
I suspect I’m not the only one who looks like a decent human on the outside, but struggles with genuine surrender to Jesus on the inside. But I’m so grateful and relieved to know it doesn’t start with trying harder, it starts with loving much.
“Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:47-48
If you recall this woman of whom Jesus was speaking, she wet His feet with her tears. Confronting sin is painful. His forgiveness is simultaneously devastating and so deeply freeing. Don’t let your avoidance of the pain keep you from the experience of this unnamed woman who showed what happens when we bring the depth of our sin to the feet of Jesus Christ.
At Stop Dieting For Life, we teach you how to change your relationship with food in the power of Christ.
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