1. We must never forget – This is war.
2. We must never forget – Sin doesn’t die.
3. We must never forget – God has designed and decreed your victory.
Never is that third principle more important than in the immediate aftermath of some particular failure.
Every Christian I have ever discussed this with has admitted to it. I know it was a place where I became entangled in my own thoughts over and over. Like Bunyan’s “Slough of Despond” – we sink into this kind of reasoning and can’t seem to navigate a sure way out.
As mentioned before, the internal arguments go something like this: a. God will not deliver me from this bondage in order to keep me humble (ala Paul’s “thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor. 12:7). Or, b. God is chastening me by virtue of leaving me bound in this sin. This is typically some unknown sin, or perhaps we’ve spotted one we “think” is the culprit. Perhaps c. This (this particular sin) is just “my cross to bear.” Or maybe even d. God has finally met His match in me, and He just can’t pull it off. My sin is too big for Him.
We’ll dismantle each of these in a moment, but first we need to recognize that they share a common underlying assumption: God is in one way or another AGAINST me. Blow all the other smoke away, and we find ourselves right back in the Garden, standing within eye-shot of the forbidden fruit – believing the old lie that there is some dark, nefarious, secret thing in God which is in opposition to me, and therefore this is un-winnable, so I might as well just languish in my torment and resign myself to living my life this way. Beloved, this is a lie. It was a lie then, and it is a lie now and it (as it ALWAYS does) turns on suspecting something off, something ill, something small, punitive, picky, unwilling or unable in God. Each and everyone of these (and the thousands more we are able to conjure up) all hang on calling GOD into question at some point. Some more blatantly than others. But all do nevertheless. And they are LIES!
As regards a., there are 2 things to be considered. 1- Brother, sister; no one else in Scripture, and thus I am certain not you – was ever subject to such revelations from God that they NEEDED to be humbled as Paul was. 2- But more importantly, Paul’s thorn was not a secret sin, but demonic opposition to his ministry wherever he went. Besetting sin is not the issue.
As for b., being given over to sin is the state of the un-Believer, and never the state of the Believer. this is what we were saved out of. And the leading characteristic of one given over to sin is that they live JUSTIFYING it, not being mournful over its dominance. The very fact you grieve over your sin as you do demonstrates you have not been given up to it.
Concerning c., is a blasphemous thought. Having a sin is nowhere in Scripture ever equated with the Cross. The Cross is being put to death – not being given over to that which Christ died to free us from as a state of being. This is a modern mis-casting of the concept of the Cross which grew out of fallen culture, not out of the Bible. Culture calls any trial or tribulation a “cross” but it is a total distortion of the concept of the Cross in the Scripture. The Cross you and I are to bear – is the denying of ourselves, not languishing in bondage to our sins.
And as for d., is this not the very height of human arrogance? How the Enemy of our souls finds a friend in our own hearts which wants to elevate ourselves above God no matter how perverse the logic is. My sin great than God’s power in Christ to deliver me. Who do I think I am? What a slight on the Cross. What a horrific diminishing of Christ’s blood that “it can’t cleanse me!” Damnable lie! “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20)
Don’t you believe it Beloved. God is on our side in this battle. He has called us to go up and take the land He has given to us as an inheritance. We are more than able in the Redeemer, and He has gone before us – all the way to Calvary, and up and out of the grave.
We we are wounded and fall on the field of battle, the Captain of our Salvation does not leave us there to bleed and die. Nor does He excoriate us for failure. He rushes to our side, picks us up on His own shoulders, carries us back to the infirmary and tends our wounds until we can rise and enter the fray afresh. No one, NO ONE is MORE for us in this fight than He is. Every gritty step of the way He is holding, shielding, protecting, encouraging, equipping, binding up, strengthening, cheering us on and interceding on our behalf. And shall we somehow imagine His pleas for us will not be heard and answered?
“ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)