Last night's Bible study focused on God's character. Eventually we were forced to discuss His justice (gulp), which led us into an examination of our sin (double gulp). That's when the gloves came off, and to her credit, our facilitator kept it real. Romans 7:15-8:2 came front and center:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.It's not until we confront the depth and extent of our sin problem that we are able to break out of our dull religion and into real spiritual vibrancy. Yet moving in this direction runs directly counter to my bias toward worldly comfort.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Proverbs 20:5 says that "The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out." The deeper I swim into the purposes of my heart, the darker it becomes. In fact, the closer I get to God, the "dirtier" I see myself.
This is terrifying, and has the potential to crush me, or it can finally break me down to the point where I reconnect with the incredible grace of God. It must be done, or else I surrender my intimacy with God for the comfort of lukewarm religion. I don't want to do it ... I want to feel good about myself. But if I have the courage, it can lead me straight into the arms of my Savior.
It is sadly rare that we dwell on our continuing, intense, immediate need for grace. We generally talk a pretty good game and sing the right songs, but we mostly behave like we needed grace a little bit, a long time ago ... once upon a time when we were "lost". Now what we "need" is other stuff: healing for ourselves or our loved ones, money, a promotion, etc.
Very seldom do we act like we need the grace of our Lord today, just to stand before His throne of God and not be consumed. And thus we trade the scalding nearness of God for the lukewarm comfort of our religion.