I was having an in-depth conversation with my best friend the other day and one of the topics we discussed was salvation. We shared about the eternal security of the believer, which has been a hot topic for a number of years. Some believe it is Biblical while others believe is a false teaching. I’ve heard messages on both sides of the table as well, through articles I have read as well as sermons I have heard.
However, I want to share something that comes to my mind every time I hear and discuss the subject of salvation and the security of a believer. It deals with my past and the calling on my life.
I remember growing up reading and hearing about stories of pastors who made huge mistakes, most often had an affair with someone else. Every time this happened the Christian world would be SHOCKED! A man of God, who was known for his passionate preaching, was exposed for his failure.
When I first received my calling as a pastor, I entered college with this thought: “I don’t want to mess up.” You see, I never wanted to be one of the pastors who struggled with some sin, especially sexual sin. I had this idea that God was going to transform me during my college years as I learned and studied the Word of God. While I learned about apologetics, church history, systematic theology, church administration and the list of other subjects, I faced the hard reality that I was already caught in sexual sin-namely lust and pornography.
As I continued in my schooling, I continued to fight against this sin and I constantly ran to the cross, every time I fell short. I hated the things I saw and I hated the things I did. I was an absolute mess. My life was nothing more than:
Wake up. Sin. Repeat.
I wanted to escape but honestly, sometimes I felt like I couldn’t. I struggled with the idea that God was so disappointed in me. I was obsessed that my relationship with God faced a hurdle and I could not overcome the issue at hand. The sad reality that I had to face was this: I was in love with my sin. Why else would I keep returning to it?
I always felt like King David and my reoccurring prayer was “Create in me a new heart.” (Psalm 51:10) My life was a daily reminder of failure as I questioned God’s call on my life. I always wondered why God would bother with someone like me, who can’t get their act together and can’t measure up.
To those of you who have struggled or are struggling with sexual sin, you know all too well that the battle gets harder as you become weaker. My lust turned into a desire to look at pornography which ultimately led to engaging in sexual acts with others.
Wake up. Sin. Repeat.
I graduated seminary being involved with the wrong relationships. I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to be in seminary anymore. I thought that God had pretty much left me. Not in the forsaken sense but in the sense that we would never have a kind of relationship I wanted to have with him, a relationship that was close and intimate. I questioned if I should continue with my calling and what to do with that. I didn’t know where to go because I had built this idea that my life was to be in and serve the church.
Reality was my nightmare because I had become who I tried so hard not to be. My dreams haunted me because they all came crashing down. My relationship with God was broken and no matter how many times I confessed, I continued to fall short.
You might be wondering to yourself, “Ok. So where and when did the lights go off? When did you finally break free from your old habits that were keeping you down?” I’m here to let you know this isn’t that story. This story doesn’t have one of those, “I am finally free from my lust. I am finally able to say I never look at a woman with impure thoughts. “This isn’t a story about me overcoming sin; it’s about finding a hero in the midst of my failures.
[The Work of Christ is greater than my mistakes.]
“When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.” -John 19:30
Jesus dying on the cross accomplished something-it provided a sacrifice which was once for all time. In his death, he provided and secured eternal redemption. While I tried to be the perfect candidate for a pastoral calling, I came up short, again and again. Jesus, however, got it right. He never sinned, he never came up short, and he never missed a deadline. His work is perfect and his work is complete.
The work of Christ replaces the work I performed. When I try on my own strength to please God, I fail. Jesus doesn’t fail. So, I stop working and enter into his rest. My faith responds to the finished work of Christ.
[The Forgiveness of Christ is greater than my failure.]
“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: ‘I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. Then he says, ‘I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.’ And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.” – Hebrews 10:16-18
Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for his perfection, his obedience and his sacrifice on my behalf. If it was up to me to perform then I failed a long time ago. Even though I told God and I told myself I never wanted to be that guy who messed up, I did! I hated myself for my failures and short comings. God knew about them even before I did!
God made a way though, he put a plan in place, even before I was born. He predestined a life for me, which saw my failures washed away by the blood of Jesus. His forgiveness is for all of my sins and God, in his mercy, never brings them to remembrance.
[The Grace of Jesus is greater than my sin.]
“We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” – Acts 15:11
I sometimes wish I could think that sin is no big deal but I knew in my heart it is. Sin is acting in a way that is contrary to who God says you are. Sin brought death and chaos into our world. Sin placed a sea of separation between me and God. And even though I tried to swim across, I found the sea to be a never-ending struggle.
The grace of the Lord Jesus runs deeper than any sin I have. His grace reached out to me, his grace called my name and his grace gave me a new start. His grace is with me now, holding me close to the heart of God.
“Grace will always be a thousand steps ahead of your sin.” D.R Silvia
The On-Going Struggle…
I have chosen to take the road where the focus is on the cross-where Jesus laid down his life. I am a recovering sinner; I am a work in progress. I am not yet complete but I am transformed by the renewing of my mind. (Rom. 12:2)
In fact, the New Living Translation says God transforms us into new people by changing the way we think. I never had the victory over any sin by trying harder. In fact, I found when I had the desire to overcome a sin; it became greater in my life. When I focus on the grace and love of Jesus, sin lost its power.
We all have issues; we all have sins in our lives that we struggle with. God dealt with the sins of the entire would at the cross through Jesus. We are all works in progress. Sin is opposition to “It is finished.” Sin embraces two lies-that God is not for us and that God is not with us.
Keep fighting, keep pressing on, keep pressing in, keep confessing sin, keep repenting, keep focusing on Jesus, keep grace in focus, keep seeking God and know God has pursued you. God isn’t mad at you, God is mad about you!
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