Followers of Jesus are called to obedience. It demonstrates that Christ satisfies us more than the pleasures of disobedience. And yet we sin so regularly! What do we make of this? Is God’s goal for us that we grow up to the point that we stop sinning?
I get discouraged with my continuing ups and downs, successes and failures in the obedience department. It helps to realize that if God had wanted me to be sinless he could have accomplished that at the moment of my salvation but he chose to leave me with indwelling sin waging war against my desires to please him. He obviously thinks I will come to love him better in this battle against sin as I continually need his grace than if I were triumphant and winning every battle.
Is there something God desires more than our obedience? I believe there is. I think he wants us to depend on him and value his grace. That happens when we come face to face with our sinfulness, yet again. If we ever reached the point of not sinning we would be proud of it (sin) and his empowering grace would mean less to us.
Don’t get me wrong. I am deeply convinced that we need to be maturing, facing our sinfulness and appropriating the empowering grace of God to obey every moment of every day. As we mature we will experience victories over certain behaviors. Then others will be revealed to us by God’s amazing grace and we must acknowledge that we continue to battle sin until our dying day.
I recommend the book Extravagant Grace by Barbara Duguid. In it the author quotes John Newton at length. On page 32 she writes, “John Newton shows us from Scripture that true sanctification is all about growing in humility, dependence and gratitude. Joy blossoms in our hearts not as we try harder and harder to grow, but as we see more clearly the depths of our sin and understand more fully our utter helplessness. Only then will we take our eyes off ourselves and look to Christ for all that we need in life and in death. Only then will we truly cherish our Savior and believe that we need him every minute of every day and that without him we can do nothing (John 15:5).”
It bothers me that we give the impression that we are relatively sinless. Oh, we would admit that we are sinners, in a broad way. But we are so very protective of our reputations that we join a conspiracy of silence and mask-wearing, hesitant to acknowledge that we lost a skirmish with sin today, repented, appreciated God’s grace all over again and appropriated the power it provides to go forward, intending to obey. Or are stubbornly refusing to repent. What would our church families be like if we were really honest, providing safety for each other to be real?