Do you ever become so wrapped up in trying to refrain from sin that your faith becomes small because your sin is so great?
I have. In fact, I do.
I often become so focused on practicing good behavior that I forget to focus on Jesus.
Let me tell you, this is a dangerous path to walk for believers. Focusing on what WE can do, instead of what JESUS DID, is one of the Enemy’s favorite ways in which we sin. Because then, as our sin overwhelms us, we lose sight of Jesus and the Promise. We lose sight of the One who already conquered each and every sin we have and will commit, and then we begin to doubt. We begin to doubt our salvation and God’s sovereignty over our lives and all of creation. We become waves tossed back and forth in the ocean, never sure of which way to turn.
As I fell deeper and deeper into this trap, I cried out to Jesus for help. I was tired of wallowing in my guilt, in my shame, and in my sorrow. The funny thing is, Christ had already granted me freedom from those feelings, but I held them captive because it’s what I knew. I knew I was a sinner, one who has a long history of self-destruction and–to be honest–willful stupidity. I knew–and still know–that its irrevocable that I will ever be “good enough” on my own for the Kingdom of God. For too long, I allowed what I knew about myself and my sin to shadow what I know about the Son and His grace He proclaimed on the Cross. The Cross He died on for me.
I became so focused on my inability to refrain from ever sinning again, that I begin to believe Jesus came to save everyone but me. I’m too mean, too selfish, too opinionated, too arrogant, too crude for Jesus’s grace. I’m UNWORTHY.
But wait–didn’t Jesus die for the unworthy? Didn’t He come to save those who could not be saved? These are the truths Jesus spoke to me as He began to root out the lies I told myself. He led me to verse upon verse in the Scripture that confirmed these truths. During a recent quiet time, I read and meditated over Galatians 3:1-14. These Scriptures spoke a bit loudly:
“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’
I felt that Jesus said to me in those moments, “Child, stop focusing so much on walking away from your sin, instead focus on moving toward Me, Who will lead you from sin by My Power.”
The funny thing is, I had heard this before. Many times, actually, but twice in recent era.
A good friend and sister in Christ, one who I often refer to as my “Titus 2 woman,” said to me as I lamented to her my struggles, “You are focusing too much on behavior and not enough on Jesus. Concentrate on Him, and He will lead you in His way.”
Isn’t that marvelous? When we focus on Jesus, instead of ourselves, we find ourselves letting go of sins we were holding captive. Notice I say that we are holding captive our sins, not the other way around. Because, when we become believers in the Cross, we become free from captivity of sin. It is we who continue to hold us there, when Christ has already broken the chains.
The beautiful thing is, we don’t have to wait until Sunday to start letting go of sin and start living in freedom. Jesus meets us right where we are. Even in the deepest, darkest gutter we find ourselves in, Jesus is there.
Aren’t you tired of trying to run the race, when the victory has already been won?
Galatians 3 goes on to say in verse 13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”
Christ took my place, became my curse, and set me free. When I focus on Him, I begin to live like Him. I love like Him. I forgive like Him. I say no to temptation, like Him. And when I do fall short, I am thankful that Jesus’s Grace is always beginning, but never ending.