Why is it often so hard to do the thing that you need to be doing most? I need to write. There’s too much to write about, so not writing, only makes it worse. I need to write my advancement document which is what legitimizes my research. I need to write about the stories of my life. If you don’t hear from me for a while, it probably means that I am living out the things that you read or will be reading someday.
I got asked to do some testifying on Good Friday tonight. Immediately a story from a couple weeks prior come to mind…
I was sitting in the living with a group of “godly” women, one Saturday morning, when the young daughter of one woman got angry. She was kicking and screaming, because she couldn’t get what she wanted. She was furious at her mother. So after the mother had to taken her into the other room and came back to continue our conversation, the young child cried for more attention.
After a few minutes, the mom goes in to see her daughter as asks her, “what do you need to feel better?” The child pointed at the mother, the person who had made her so angry. The mom, responds by giving her a hug, and the daughter says, “you should apologize for hurting me!” The mom laughs and said she wouldn’t apologize, and in fact, it’s the daughter who should be apologizing for disrespecting her mom.
The mom comes back and, later, makes the point that our relationship with God is quite similar to what had just happened. We often feel that we’ve done everything we could, and still we don’t get what we should. Often, we get a lot of what we don’t want. So, when we are broken and angry at our circumstances, God, who we often direct our anger, frustration, and annoyance, is what we need to feel better.
That was good, but what was better was that realization that we are the ones that need to apologize, even if we are the ones hurting. We won’t feel fully better until we recognize what actually makes us better. We are the ones who need to apologize.
Now, I believe that it is better to be angry than to pretend like nothing is wrong. However, this anger shouldn’t keep us from what ultimately restores us. Unfortunately, we are forgetful creatures of habit, and we get preoccupied with what is right in front of us.
So, what’s so good about Good Friday? I mean, it’s just a holiday that happens once a year. Being so forgetful, what is it that we are trying to remember?
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Many times throughout the new testament, the word points out that the law does not make us righteous. The law exposes our sin nature, so we’d have a need for redemption. I heard a speaker, Graham Cooke, once say that we, after redemption, no longer have a sin nature, rather, we are caught up by our sin habits. They call this teaching “living in accordance with the finished works of the cross.”
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.
After hearing Graham, I started to understand more, what was accomplished at the cross. If it was all finished, then what are we supposed to do?
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
..But that doesn’t answer the question of why we still sin if sin is no longer our nature. How do we break this habit?
This morning, I realized that it’s one of two things that keeps us captive: (1) that we never really believed the extent that we have been justified or (2) that we often forget that sin is no longer our master.
So, if you have a hard time believing that you are justified, adopted into God’s family, then seek more faith, since we are justified by faith after-all. Not that we are simply sinless, but that we are sinless, because we’ve been baptized into his death, burred, and resurrected with Christ.
Now, how do you stop yourself from forgetting? Well, there are many ways I do it, but it comes down to wanting to know God so much that it is all you ever think about, from your waking moment to you final thoughts of the day. And as creatures of habit, having annual reminders throughout the year, will at least direct us back to where we need to be.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.