The Battle Is Raging

2:22 AM

Everyone picks on me for my slow driving. "It's not slow!" I retort. "I just drive the speed limit." And it's true. I'm a stickler for putting on blinkers when leaving the driveway, stopping fully at stop signs, and driving 65 when the sign says 65. It's an easy law to obey. It's not complicated: don't drive faster than the posted speed. Got it.

I know I'm not going to convince anyone else to join me in being a law-abiding driver, but hear me out: why do we feel totally justified in blatantly breaking an obvious law? Sure, maybe we don't get caught -- but many major crimes get committed with the observation that it's not wrong unless the cops pick you up. If people have half of a conscience, they hurry to say, "Oh, it's not breaking the rules. Just bending them."

Well, then. At what speed above the limit becomes "breaking" as opposed to "bending"?

Again, I'm not here to pick on people's driving. I've driven 67 on a 65 mph interstate. (My friends laughed at my guilty confession.) It just illustrates an attitude most definitely prevalent in my own life -- how loose my idea of sin is.

Are we willing to call sin "sin" not because it is big or little, but because God's law forbids it?
- Jerry Bridges, Pursuit of Holiness

For the longest time I avoided the seriousness of sin because, well, grace, remember? I can't keep the law. Plus, I'm freed from it. There's therefore no condemnation. And as someone who felt condemnation from God for most of my Christian walk, I was relieved to find He still loved me and died for me even while I persisted in sin. Freedom!

Still, curious about this concept of pursuing holiness, I asked God to reveal areas of deeply embedded sin without turning me back to legalism or works-based salvation. In response, He gave me a boyfriend who loved me unconditionally as well as the revelation of what a truly horrible person I was. I can't look into the mirror long without running away screaming for all the sin staring back at me. 

But it was that combination of conviction and unconditional love that awakened me to how much sin still entrapped me -- how much I had let it -- how my way of dealing with sin was flippant. My way of dealing with sin was not dealing with it. When it surfaced, I would start crying and begging God not to let people hate me. I wanted to consequences of sin to go away. I didn't want my life ruined. I didn't want to feel guilty. I didn't want people to judge me and accuse me. And when the tantrum subsided and I wiped away the tears, I went away never touching the sin but feeling slightly better about myself.

That's when I began seeing how much my sin hurt me -- and even worse, how much it hurt the people I loved: my boy who hears every complaint concocted in my brain, my parents who often get the brunt of my grumpiness and disrespect, my God who bled and died for my sin that I persist in so stubbornly. Their love for me motivated me to get off the counselor's couch, stop seeing myself as a victim, and look sin squarely in the eye.

Whenever I discover sin (which seems to be constantly as of late), I am still mortified and scared, but I know that I already have victory over it, no matter how much a part of me it has become. So I ask God for forgiveness and I ask Him to bring specific challenges into my life so that I can discipline myself to not respond sinfully. And I pray He opens my eyes to see those challenges as answers to prayer and not just things contributing to a bad day. And I pray that He gives me the courage to fight against the sin instead of giving up and whining.

I'm not winning right now, to be honest. I'm trying to pull out age-old weeds and dig through cemented habits. I'm trying to change the core of who I am, changing how I've always responded to certain situations ever since I was little. But I know I can win. I've fundamentally changed in some areas, to the point where my immediate response is righteous and gracious.

I went from perpetual fear of God to never doubting His love for me. I went from being a screamer to holding in my emotions. I went from automatically judging nonbelievers to automatically going out of my way to love them. I went from believing lies about myself, about God, about love, about Christianity itself to now walking freely in the truth. I went from pridefully never apologizing to being super sensitive about extending apologies and forgiveness. I went from horrible relationships with certain people to building them back up with grace at the center.

I can win. You can win. Not because of law -- but because of grace. Don't let grace become a refuge to nurse sin or relax from the battle or cease pursuing righteousness. He gave us grace to fight and overcome sin in the deepest places. That's why grace is truly freeing.

You Might Also Like

2 impressions

Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)