When I Am Confounded by the Sacrifice of Christ

Hello friends,

After eight months of no activity whatsoever, I think it is safe to say the Lord has been working dramatically in my heart and life in the midst of a very busy schedule full of travelling and  activities. The Lord has faithfully been chiseling away at my sinful heart, revealing to me areas where I was allowing my flesh to dominate my actions, where I was trusting in my own strength to fend off temptation, where I lacked conviction in the truth of God’s Word, and most importantly, where I failed to diligently consider the truth of the Gospel on a regular basis.

Many of you may recall my post from October, 2013, entitled “When I Am Tempted to Despair”. Within that post, I essentially explained my own struggle against a particular area of sin that had begun to dominate my thoughts and actions. I wrestled to overcome that sin, continually being defeated in its temptations, because I was depending upon my own strength rather than trusting in the strength of my Savior. I had “forgotten”, in one sense, the saving work that He accomplished for me and the fact that it was only in Him that I could find victory over sin. Now, I am about to tell you a very similar story, only this one has a different ending.

To be brutally honest, the sins about which I wrote in October are the same that I found myself wrestling against during the past several months. Even after I had learned of my own weakness and my own depravity, my own inability to resist temptation without the strength of Christ, I still stumbled. Although there was a period of time when I did improve and I was finding victory over sin, it was not long before I found myself wrestling again.

Two months ago, as I was musing over my struggles, I wrote out my thoughts, meditations, frustrations, and questions concerning this trial…

“I am honestly just learning that the Lord has a plan for my sanctification that is incredibly different from my own. It seems like His ways are never even similar to mine. Even now, I see my sin, and I don’t hate it as much as I should. Not only that, I do not respond to it or deal with it like I should. I don’t pray, I don’t memorize or mediate on Scripture, and then I blame God for not giving me the power that I need to defeat this sin. It burdens me and weighs on my heart constantly. My mind is a constant fugitive from sinful thoughts, and I find myself despairing that such abominable things would even occur to me. I hate that I am haunted by my own sinfulness and selfishness. I don’t understand how the Lord could love me or hear my prayers. Why would He turn His ear to an unrighteous and pitiful case like me? I feel like I am the one who has these miserable hopes and expectations of reflecting Christ my Savior, and yet I keep slipping and falling in the sludge of my own guilt. How can I come into the presence of the Almighty God in such a state as this? Clothed in dirty, rancid rags, poor and contemptible, pitifully weak and disgusting, yet so proud that I thought I could fix myself my way. Whatever happened to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead? Did He not already gain the victory over sin for me? What am I supposed to do, in that respect? Simply mediate on the Gospel? When will I understand the magnitude and sufficiency of that sacrifice to the point that it drives me to turn from my sin? What do I have to do to love Christ more and be rid of sin?”

What God would teach me through the subsequent months is that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY SUFFICIENT to cover my sin. In my struggle against my flesh, I had forgotten and the confidence that I had in Jesus’ ability to cleanse me from my sin and in God’s faithfulness to forgive me based on that cleansing had waned. I did not want to come into the presence of God because I lacked faith in God’s love. I didn’t see how He could forgive me of sin which I had so foolishly allowed to take root in my heart and grow there. Again, I saw my own depravity, always deeper and more prevalent than when I last looked, and I wrestled to remember the love that I knew Jesus poured out upon me when He sacrificed Himself and took the penalty for my sin.

But then I read Romans 8:1. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

What kind of judgment awaits me? The sinner, saved by grace through Jesus Christ? There is NONE. There is no condemnation! Because I am in Jesus Christ and He is in me, because I am His and He is mine, I have nothing to fear. If I was not saved by Jesus Christ, I would come before the throne of God as a murderer with the blood of her last victim till staining her hands. That’s who I am without my Savior. But as one whose ransom has been paid, whose penalty has been taken by One infinitely greater than I… I know that there is forgiveness for my sin.

In essence, in the midst of the struggle, I was wallowing in my sin, rather than viewing my sinful state in light of Christ’s sacrifice for me. I would look at my sinful deeds and because of how “spiritual” I though I was, I would label myself as disgusting, pitiful, weak, abominable, perverted, sinful, unholy, depraved, ect. However, although all of those things are true apart from repentance, I must continually remind myself that Jesus blood cleanses me of these things. Yes, I am a sinful human being, but through Christ, I am made clean and God views me as righteous.

The process to overcoming sin begins with recognizing the sin. And oh did I recognize mine! I even “repented” of it. But I did not continue to the part where I view my sin in the way that Jesus views it. This is why it is SO desperately important and essential to meditate on the Gospel daily! When I am continually reviewing the work that Christ accomplished for me, there is no way for me to be trapped in my sin, because my faith and confidence in the cleansing sacrifice of Christ will grow steadily. And when I am convinced that there is nothing that can keep Christ from loving me and forgiving me when I repent, then I will readily bring my filthy rags before Him, although they are despicable, yet knowing that I will receive mercy because my Savior stands before the throne of God and pleads for me. Then when I have repented of my sin, I must, as Paul describes in Philippians 3:13, “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” 

Psalms 103:12“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” According to this passage, since I know that once my sin is forgiven and so far removed from me, I must abandon that sin, not remembering it or continuing to live under that burden of guilt, but pressing on toward holiness. This is the confidence that the Gospel brings! Sin is truly defeated once and for all, in every temptation and trial, when Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection is brought to bear on the believer’s life.

How thankful I am for these gracious reminders from the Lord! I will hold onto the promise of Jesus atonement, love, and forgiveness! I will rely up His strength, presented in and through the truth of the Gospel. I will meditate on it daily, so that I might live in the light of its power, freedom from sin, and glory to the Lord!

Romans 8:33-39, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Comments
2 Responses to “When I Am Confounded by the Sacrifice of Christ”
  1. Well spoken ~ it is a blessing to have our Holy Spirit working to convict us…love us…teach us. ~thank you for your words. ~Amen :Y

  2. Brian Dudley says:

    Thank you for that, it was very encouraging.

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