I’ve been dithering writing this post. I’ve wanted to write something about repentance, sin and grace for a week or so. As I walk through Lent many of my readings have covered similar matters that have further stimulated my thoughts.
Further, we had a visiting Pastor speak at church the other day on the topic: “God is after my thoughts”, which added weight to some of my own ideas.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)
Do you struggle with recurring sins that invade you regularly? What about the idols in your life that consume too much of your waking hours and desires. I sure have both and I take a degree of comfort from the above verses as it validates that our sins cling to us. Our sinful nature isn’t likely to walk away without a fight, hence, the reason we keep grappling with particular issues.
Too often I’ve found my initial response is to tackle the issue myself so I’ll research it, get some reading material and/or participate in courses to help me combat it. Now in itself I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with getting assistance so as to help change a habit or whatever.
But in many respects if we’re only seeking human intervention, we’re bound to fail. Because what we end up doing is focus too much on the sin and ourselves.
On accepting Jesus as our Lord we might think the sin issue is now sorted. We’ve acknowledged our need for Jesus and responded affirmatively to the gospel. “Yes, the power of sin has been broken, but the presence of sin still remains inside us and is being progressively eradicated by God’s delivering grace.”1
But those pesky sins keep clinging to us. It’s sin’s nature to do that as the verse above implies. One voice keeps telling us what a failure we are because we can’t get this thing under control and so we keep working in our own strength to resolve it. We ask people to keep us accountable, to check in on us and help us. And a day doesn’t go by when we ask for forgiveness and even cry out to God: “Help me, please.”
“No mere human has ever been able to conquer its (sin) power on its own.”2
It’s taken me a long time to learn. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments of feeling “fainthearted.”
Interesting that the verses above give us the formula to successfully running the race of endurance.
“… looking to Jesus …”
Yes, yes, we all know that. But what does that look like in the everyday as we fight off those pesky sins that won’t let us go? How do you not keep being distracted by the runners on either side of you that are crowding your lane? Or the one that is way out in front and appears to be doing it really easily?
I’ll save my thoughts for my next post.
In acknowledging that Jesus needs to be whom I turn to when I drop the ball is wonderfully re-assuring. In recognising my need for Jesus throughout every day has helped me appreciate how much I need His grace everyday.
Let’s celebrate the grace that Jesus makes available all day every day.
God is SO merciful! As your subtitles state Ian. It IS just that!
Grace covers sin when we respond with a change of focus.
I will be very open here and share that in August 2 just last year I slipped terribly in my weak human life and overindulged in an evening of bon fire, friends and wine. I have influential people around me I could blame but I only have myself for it is MY hand that holds the glass. Wine as I discovered was to be my Cross to carry as I learned after “it was finished!”
I was stuck on one level in my faith walk and I knew God had more for me to experience. I also sensed drinking wine wasn’t part of His Plan. During the intimate moments with Jesus I learned I was to be KNOWING and using the Power of Christ in me to go out and heal the “nations.” BUT….I had to carry my cross first if I wanted to get any further on this road. Waking up August 3, Communion Sunday with the worse hangover I had in a very long long time left me devastated and crushed at my rebellious nature towards the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE and especially after experiencing how close, loving and kind He had been to me through SO MUCH! In sharing my story with someone just yesterday I realized all this time I had seen God rebuking me for my actions but then covering me with mercy and grace to lift me up. Suddenly as I was typing my story out at the keyboard the Holy Spirit gave me revelation. It wasn’t God rebuking me. It was the enemy’s taunts. God never rebukes because that is a negative action that could damage us further. God is loving and kind. He saw the enemy trying to beat me up with my err He came in and doused those words of death with living water!
It wasn’t an easy cross to bear as I am employed in a business that makes wine! So the temptation surrounds me there and at home as my husband continues to enjoy his wine in the evening. Ironic that the very thing that is so heavy to carry is the very thing that strengthens me.
As Jesus died for us to know SO much MORE, I think I can handle giving up something He has asked of me so I will experience the abundant life.
I also believe at the Wedding Feast I will be served THEE best glass of wine I will ever have tasted in my entire human life and I will toast with my Saviour, our sacrifices.
“Here’s to the Supernatural Life!”
Dear Joanne, thank you for sharing so openly.
Yes, it’s only in fairly recent times that I stopped thinking God was angry with me when I kept stuffing up. All His anger towards us went when Jesus died on the cross which is such a comfort. Allowing myself to receive His grace everyday can be challenging especially when we try to solve our issues ourselves.
Congratulations on fasting wine …keep holding onto Him especially when the temptation is strong.
Grace and peace, my friend.
Well said, Ian. Thanks for the reminder.
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