Sometimes I close my eyes and pray, “God, I’m just sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know why I fail You the way that I do. And Jesus – the perfect spotless and blameless one – what do I say to you? The one who overcame all temptation to sin in order to save my sorry soul? What do I say?”
Any and every kind of sin, I believe, can lead us to at least a single moment of gratification. If it didn’t reward us anything at all, we wouldn’t do it in the first place, would we?
For example, if someone is really rude to you, it might feel good to snap back at them in anger… but only for that moment. Following that comes guilt, regret, and hopefully, an apology and repentance. But had the alternative route been taken, to speak truth in love to one another, or just to avoid quarrelling altogether as God says in the Bible, all of those nasty stages following the one outburst of anger would have been avoided and the time that wasn’t spent lamenting could have been spent just enjoying God’s presence, or being a light in a dark situation.
Another example is sexual sin. This is something we are built to do so naturally, we all pretty well want it. But outside of the covenant of marriage, we are to abstain from it. So sure… there can be some physical and emotional gratification obtained from engaging in it, even outside of marriage, but what happens next? Like before, guilt, regret, and hopefully, repentance.
This morning I woke up really fighting to not let the enemy grab hold of my thoughts and lead me into thinking I was a mess still; that I had all of these problems and addictions to a bad attitude, a short fuse, lustful desires, unforgiveness, etc etc, the list goes on and on.. and I was lamenting a lot of my bad decisions. Then suddenly, as if Jesus just walked into the dark room in which I was sitting and flipped the light one for me and said, “I love you anyway.”
So much of my walk with God has been Him convincing me that I am worthy of His love through the sacrifice of Christ. Am I a mess? Yep. Do I have a sin problem? You betcha. But do I have to work and strive to gain God’s affections? No. Do I have to be perfect, spotless, and blameless? No. I don’t have to MAKE myself worthy of His love and affection. He loves me in the mess I’m in – “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
The world was a mess then, too. And it’s a big mess now. And yet Christ came here and He died for us all. Certainly, I am included in that. His love for me as a sinner was demonstrated on that cross. I don’t ever have to doubt His affections or the way He feels about me; even if I disappoint, which I will (Romans 3:23), He loves me anyway.
Now let me be plain – God’s love and grace for us is not an excuse to keep on sinning. Paul covers that pretty well in Romans 6. I won’t quote the whole passage here, but I highly recommend it if you haven’t yet read it. Essentially, we have died to sin through Christ’s death and have been resurrected to new life, as He was risen from the dead. We are not slaves to sin (6:6).
See though God loves us as sinners despite our disobedience, He loves us too much to leave us that way. Coming to Christ, our Savior, and beginning to walk with Him brings upon the ultimate transformation. We step along side Him and through that become more like Him than ourselves – not to earn grace, but rather just out of love and awe and our own personal desires.
I know with me, I literally just fell in love with Jesus Christ and I want to be near Him all the time. I want to be so close to His spirit that it feels like a flesh and blood man is walking with me, shoulder to shoulder. And because I trust Him to take the lead, I follow Him, and it has changed my life.
I don’t want a lot of the things I used to want. I don’t partake in the things I used to do – but every now and then, that cunning serpent snakes his way into my mind and allows me to look away for a moment. Or even worse, step away and let go of Christ’s hand. Fortunately, He loves us enough to take us back when we get bitten and come running to Him for refuge.
I don’t think we ever grow too mature in our walks with God to stop for a second and marvel in the way that He loves us. It is so unfailing and unmatchable. And this morning for me, it’s overwhelming.