I am living in sin.
If you're shaking your head, stop. Because it IS true and there's no point in denying it. I am disobedient every day. Every day I know the things I should do, I know what I am compelled to do - yet I cannot achieve it. As hard as I try to obey commands, all I ever do is miss the perfect target. I'm supposed to love unselfishly - yet I'm obsessed with myself. I'm supposed to serve others - yet in my heart I've already found reasons why I won't. My mind is supposed to be clean - yet I cannot seem to get rid of filth.
The darkest, most destructive sin in my life is doubt driven by fear. I'm afraid that I've failed too many times, broken to many laws, indulged too many times. I'm afraid that I'm going down the wrong path, ignoring truth, deluding myself, embracing selfishness and living without love. I'm afraid I'm lying to myself, afraid I'm smothering my own conscience. I am afraid that the love that supposed to love me, hates me.
That focus on fear is the opposite of love. It destroys love with self-obsession and self-reliance. Instead of trusting this love to lead me, I am focused on myself. Instead of trusting love to provide clarity, I look to myself for answers. And instead of finding answers, I find ever deepening doubt and fear. I smother love beneath doubt and obsess over all kinds of questions:
- Do I love God with everything in me?
- Is God happy with me?
- Is my conscience clear?
- Have I truly committed my life to love?
- Am I good enough?
- Am I doing enough?
- Am I loving enough?
- Am I praying hard enough?
- Am I obeying all the commands?
- Am I giving enough?
- Am I putting love first?
- Have I left my life of sin?
And so fear grips me and I give in to doubt. I believe I am condemned and destined for wrath. Love is forgotten as I wallow in depressive emptiness. I cry, I beg, I search. I try harder, HARDER. And fail even more spectacularly. I am the naughty child, standing at the bars, staring at a pile of gifts - without even hope for even a lump of coal. I know what I deserve - and I am terrified of it.
And that's the whole point. I AM worthless. I AM completely incapable. I am utterly unable to keep any commands, unable to love, unable to give with pure motives. I am selfish and pathetic and so weak. I AM living in sin. And that's the point!
Even while I am so completely worthless and destined for punishment (because I AM that naughty child), this love is SO powerful it rescues me. Love. Rescues. Me. I did NOTHING to earn it. I can do nothing to deserve it. I can do nothing to keep it. Yet unbelievably, it is already promised to me. It has already saved me - me the worthless, naughty child destined for not even a lump of coal.
That's love. And it's that love - that powerful, undeserved love - which releases me. I am released from obsessing over myself and all I cannot do. I am released from obsessing over the laws that of myself I cannot keep. I am released! Because this love fulfills everything and accomplishes all I cannot do in and of myself. This love, so much greater than me, achieves for me ALL that is required. I am living in sin - yet this love makes me sinless. I am weak - pathetically so - but this love is my power. I fail at everything - yet this love succeeds in all things. Every law satisfied. Every struggle complete. Not by me - but by this amazing love.
This love doesn't just stop at fulfilling requirements. It goes even further. It creates new focus within me. My old focus struggled to fulfill laws, to keep commands, to do things to save myself. To earn and prove my innocence. Yet this love releases me from myself to refocus on love. On repentance instead of denial, on forgiveness instead of wrath. On others instead of myself. I am freed to serve others. To LOVE others. To give with everything in me - not out of requirement - but out of thankful joy for what I have been released FROM. I have been released to live my life in daily thanks for this love which has accomplished ALL of this for me!
THAT is freedom. Oh, the incredible joy I have! To be free from obsessing over laws I cannot keep. To be free to be a living, walking dedication of THANKS to this unstoppable love. Free. And this love's freedom compels me to a completely new life - to not indulge my own selfish desires or to seek my own comforts or demand entitlement - that was what my own me-focused self did before! Instead this love FREES me to thankfully relinquish everything that is me - my life, my body, my mind - to serve this love. And I am so relieved to do so because serving myself was nothing but painful, destructive, oppressive and empty. But this new freedom - I am overwhelmed with joy! Because of this incredible, undeserved, totally unfathomable love. I am free. I. Am. Free.
You know this love I am talking about - Jesus Christ - and you know why I'm sharing this. Because I love this love. I AM the naughty child given gifts I could never hope for. All mine - to use in thankful love to serve this love. To serve others - and thankfully - FINALLY - not myself! And the one who gives such amazing gifts - he will never take them away, never say: "You filthy, naughty child! You didn't earn these!"
Do you know what he says? "Believe in me." Because the love I didn't earn, the love I cannot attain on my own, the love that keeps on loving even when I am smothered in self-obsessive doubt over my own sinfulness - that love has accomplished all things for me. That love, loves. And because it loves me, I am now also finally freed to love. I am now finally, FINALLY free. "Believe in me."
More from this series
- Confessions of a Liar
- A New Command
- The Ideal Job
- Prime Directive
- Faith, Hope and Handouts
- Killing Monsters
- Jesus Loves Me
- A Letter to You
- Marriage, and the ONE Important Question