Sunday, July 27, 2014

Confession of Sin, Celebration Of Grace #Messy

I am more than likely a person who, by definition, would be accused of having a skewed view of grace. As I have thought more about what the accusation really means, it has pressed me more and more into grace not more and more away from it.

If you have followed some of my recent struggles you may ask how I can continue to talk about all of this grace stuff. I answer by saying, it is precisely because of my recent struggles that I need to talk about this...about grace. Because, if grace is not what it is by definition - undeserved merit, I am in big trouble.

I am banking on the one way love of God that pursues sinners. 


If you struggle, then we are in the same spot. We need grace.

We can't consider grace just a nice thing to have. We need it.

Having a skewed view of grace is defined as celebrating failure and discounting obedience to God's moral standard. Let me first say that I wholeheartedly do not believe that someone who revels in God's grace discounts obedience to God's law. I would say it is exactly the opposite. In my experience, the one who loves grace recognizes God's high and holy Law as being perfect and good and lovely and...unattainable. Hence, their love for grace.

All my attempts to obey fail because all my attempts to obey fall short of God's holy and right standard of perfection.

Obedience on our part never meets God's standard and in that respect, it fails. Always

Who has ever loved God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength...even for one second?

I don't celebrate my failure, but I do confess it. Sin is never a cause for celebration. God hates sin and so should we. Is it possible that the confessing of failure can sometimes sound like celebrating it? I would argue that the "celebrating" of it is really just vocalizing the realty of sin and weakness. I vocalize my weakness and "celebrate" my inability to keep the Law which leads me to confess the Lawkeeper.

My confession of imperfection is a confession of Perfection.

Jesus calls people to a deeper level of obedience. No more white washed tombs. Instead of looking perfect on just the outside, He calls us to actually be perfect...inside and out. And, sometimes we do obey. 

However, a some of the time obedience is not what the cross was all about. 

A some of the time perfection is not what Jesus referred to when he called his followers to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”, (Luke 10:27).

God's redeeming work is evidenced by true heart transformation. My desires are different. I begin to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. But nowhere in the Bible do we see that having a right desire guarantees a right obedience. Some would say that grace leads to a willy-nilly disregard for God's moral standards. I don't believe professing Christians are actually desiring to live any old way with no regard for God's standards. I trust that believers actually want to do God's will. The problem is the actual doing of God's will according to his standard...perfection. It is not possible this side of heaven. That is why the gospel is such good news. In our efforts to love God, realizing that we fall short, we fall on the gracious and merciful love of God in the person and work of Jesus Christ who died for our sins.

The problem is not in thinking we can never obey. 

The problem comes in when we think our some of the time obedience is enough.

At the root of the problem stands not the Law. The root of the problem is and always has been our hearts, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Although it's true that the gospel is at work in our hearts transforming us from the inside out, we remain sinners until the day Jesus comes back or we go to be with him in glory. It is what we see in the Bible; example after example of people who longed to do the right thing and failed. "People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives", (Prov 16:2).

Which brings up a good question. Why does God exhort us toward obedience? Is it all a big joke? He calls us to be holy yet we can't be holy. What is going on? Some would say the exhortation towards obedience is to teach us that we can obey, thus giving us hope. It sounds good. However, at some point it breaks down. Is God's desire for us to put hope in our ability to obey? 

Or, is God's desire for us to give up hope in our own obedience so that we might seek the One who perfectly obeyed on our behalf? 

Ultimately, we put our hope in Jesus, not our own obedience.

Any celebrating going on in the life of a Christian is the pure and simple reveling in the finished work of the cross which reminds me I'm not able, but there is One who is.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
2 Cor 12:9

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