All sin comes from a failure to believe the gospel. In the moment of temptation, I fail to believe that God really is as good as he says he is.
I fail to believe that in the midst of my badness, God came to rescue me because of his great love for me. It sounds too good to be true. Often, I am not even thinking about God or his goodness to me. Instead, I am intent on running my mouth about you, rolling my eyes at you or slicing and dicing you in my heart. It is amazing to me how quickly I can go from talking about the gospel and rejoicing in the good news to utterly abandoning it in thought and deed. I am the school girl in the classroom with hands folded on the desk. Ten minutes later I'm in a mad dash to the playground ready to bully anyone who gets in my way. Do you ever feel that way? A bit schizophrenic? Here is how the bible describes it:
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other... Galatians 5:17
The crazy part is I actually believe I'm the good girl. I believe I am the one sitting at the desk with her hands neatly folded, not bothering anyone around me. You see, I may not actually be the bully on the playground who is hitting and kicking others but my heart is full of crazy, judgmental, and condescending thoughts towards those around me.
It's what makes the good news of the gospel so spectacular and so shocking. First, it reminds us that we are all bullies. We are bad kids intent on getting our own way even though we may look like good girls and boys. Second, Jesus came for bad kids. That's all of us. Folding our hands while we sit quietly does not fool anybody, especially God. He sees our hearts - he created us and knows our inmost being. This is the shocking part - he loves us anyway. Fully known and fully loved, that's us!
Do you remember cotton candy? The glorious pink puff of sugary goodness all wrapped around a paper stick? Pure heaven! As a kid, I could never imagine anything else so wonderful, so absolutely perfect.
I know analogies break down at some point, but I think that is what God is like. His grace is like getting a big puffy pink swirl of cotton candy after a playground fight. The "bad kid" walks away victorious. Smug and dirty faced, he continues to taunt from afar. Then God walks in with glorious sweet good news! "I know who you are and I know what you've done, and I love you."