Sometimes, I sin on purpose. I have moments in which I am intentionally disobedient. It is in those instances that I am grateful for the image of a child and their parent. As a kid, and then more especially as a teenager, I certainly had some rebellious tendencies. I would even find ways to rationalize my rebellion instead of calling it what it truly was: me wanting to do what I wanted to do instead of trusting God to make those calls. My poor parents often got caught in the mix of this turning away, and I’m sure I am the cause of a few wrinkles or gray hairs (not like those exist mom and dad!) in their lives. But, no matter what I said or did, one thing was clear: their love for me was the same. In the midst of my inconsistencies, their consistency still shined through. I am so thankful that I have parents that I know this to be true about; but even still, I doubted this in my shame and disgust of myself. We can often look at our human relationships, and if we dig a little deeper, discover some deep seated truths (or lies) we have believed about God. So, at the end of the day, here God and I were: Him telling me He loved me and giving me guidelines to best help me experience His love and love others well; me being suspicious that He was just trying to control me or take the fun away and therefore doing my own thing; me coming to Him after doing my own thing and confessing He knew best all along; me then doubting His love altogether because of my own mess-ups. An exhausting way to live for sure. But God. God has gently and patiently lured me back to Him each and every time. And, the more I have gotten to know Him and stepped out in faith to trust Him, the more I have realized this deep seated, never-changing, always giving, always gracing, beautiful, mighty, powerful Love is for real. More real than my own fleeting wants or desires. More true than any human could possibly attempt to muster up. Better than any love story that any movie could ever try to depict. The Greatest Love Story of All. But, still, I sin. And sometimes, I sin on purpose. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this. There are times where, despite thinking a matter through, I turn off the voice of the Spirit and turn toward sin and death. It always seems silly, knowing what I know what I know, but as Paul says,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…for I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”- Romans 7:15, 18b-19
Sometimes, my flesh wins temporarily. Oh, how I am thankful this victory is short and fleeting, but as I was thinking about a particular area of my life that I straight up having a hard time choosing God in, I was reminded of a steadfast heart and what that, in theory, should look like. Now, in these moments, the Enemy would totally prefer that we go down the path of shame. But, staring at our sin will not lead us to conquering the sin any more than staring at a set of weights will lead us to get physically stronger. That gets us nowhere. Which is why the Enemy would love for us to just keeping staring at it, or even better, keep staring at ourselves and beating ourselves up over and over again. There is absolutely no victory found there. No. Victory is found in staring at God, and, while our sin seems great, knowing that He promises that He is greater. It is finding confidence in the fact that He has already overcome; and falling on our knees in gratitude that we no longer have to be a slave to that which kills, steals, and destroys. So, a steadfast heart. A steadfast heart is not compromised by emotions or circumstances. A heart that is fixed on Him is a heart that stares the difficulty or temptation in the face just long enough to say, “My God is greater”; and then quickly fixes its whole being on the God who made that to be true. And, just like you will never regret picking up those weights, you will never look back and wish you hadn’t chosen God’s ways. The more we make the active choice to trust Him, the more He has room to show His innate faithfulness. True, you might be sore for a bit, for discipline can be painful, but our faith muscles sometimes have to be stretched and pulled for a season in order to bring us God’s ultimate best in our lives.
But how do we do this when the default seems much more appealing? There was a time in my life that I thought I would reach a level of “super-spiritual” in which nothing other than God was appealing to me. While it is true that God sanctifies us and gives us the ability to desire Him more and the world less, the fact is, we will be in the battle until we are able to take off this flesh and put on the new that He is preparing for us. So, I believe that having the faith to believe God’s promises and trust His purposes is the key to not settling in this life. It sounds elementary, but if faith is the focus of what I believe, wouldn’t it make sense that in the moments when it is hard to look to God instead of self or what this world has to offer, faith becomes all the more important? The very nature of the word faith breathes stepping out. The definition in itself calls for our sight being blinded, otherwise it wouldn’t be faith. So often, as I am struggling through giving into sin, I will think of a scripture, pray even, but if I’m honest, I’m not believing in the power of the words I’m reading or saying. While those words are still true and active in those moments, they are dead and passive to my current situation if I am not exercising the faith to believe God in whatever my current reality is. And let us not forget that the temptation to sin is not the sin itself. The feeling, no matter how strong, is not the issue. It’s what we choose to do with the struggle or the emotion that matters.
Friends, when we are tempted to take the easy way out, or to go to our default, or to flat out sin, we are in the midst of a holy opportunity. It is those moments that God can strengthen and grow our faith all the more, if yet we would have the faith to believe. And sometimes, He hides His presence or His purposes in order to develop this faith all the more. Yet when all visible evidence that He is remembering us is withheld, let us not forget that this does not diminish His presence in the least. No. Let us, instead, look to His Word and cry out to Him in faith, trusting our feeble lives to The Eternal One who is working all things together for good. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.
What areas of your current reality are you choosing sin instead of choosing God? Where are you becoming impatient with His timing in sanctification and simply going along with your flesh? How can you choose to step out in faith today and do the hard thing, knowing that it is God’s best for your life?
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure”. –Philippians 2:13
Let’s choose to trust Him today. If not today, then when? He is faithful.