Please welcome guest author Mark Fodale! Mark works on staff for DiscipleMakers, has a passion to see college students be transformed by the gospel, is a godly husband and father of four, and blogs at The Lion Unleashed. Enjoy his seasoned insight, and may it encourage you in your remembrance of the gospel and fight against sin!
"True Christianity isn't primarily a matter of control; primarily it's overflowing fullness. That is the triumph of grace". - Raymond Ortlund, Jr.
We've all faced it, haven't we?
In the midst of the fight for holiness, we fail. Often miserably. Indeed, Jesus spoke truly when He said, "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is so weak." (Mark 14.38).
And so, I fail. And then ... a disturbing pattern sets in. Its almost like clockwork. At first I am convicted by my sin, saddened by my weakness. And at that moment of sorrow, a familiar "friend" enters the scene - guilt. And that frequent companion whispers to me words of condemnation, "You call yourself a Christian?", and despair, "Things will never ever change."
Yes, its an all-too-familiar pattern.
And, in response, I typically have four reactions:
1. I spiral downward, weighed down not only by my sin, but also by the guilt & despair over that sin;
2. I focus inward, kicking and chastising myself for being a failure;
3. I rest on self-discipline. That is, I promise myself I'll never do it again. I diligently think through structures and disciplines to curb my appetites and passions.
4. And then I wait ... for the next time I fail.
Centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah pointed God's people beyond the false savior of their own guilt and discipline to the true salvation of God Himself.
You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
- Isaiah 12.1-2
Could it be true?
Isaiah describes an amazing moment - as sin crushes us, as God's righteous anger is known, we can turn to Him with ... thanksgiving! We can rest on Him as our strength and our song! No longer do we need to sing the song of our failures. No longer do we need to feed the tune of our guilt. But we can trust that God knows us, we can rest that He has chosen us, and we can rejoice that He has rescued and redeemed us through Jesus.
That is the triumph of grace!
We do not need to make our sin all about ... us. We do not need to make our sanctification all about ... us. We are freed from the tyranny of self-loathing, self-discipline, and self-doubt.
Instead we can turn to Christ once again, knowing that He came to save sinners.
When we consider the grace of God rescuing us from ourselves, paying the penalty for all of our sins, restoring to us what we have messed up, and giving us far better than all we could ever ask or imagine, we will say with the apostle Paul, "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8.31)
So, as you sin, turn to Jesus. Rejoice that He came for such a moment as this. Rest on Him by faith, knowing that forgiveness is yours. And ask Him to use even this moment to make you more like Him.
Repent? Absolutely. But let your repentance lead you to Jesus. Sing of the triumph of His grace.
"No duty is more pressed in the Bible than this, of rejoicing in the Lord always. It is no less a sin not to rejoice than not to repent." - John Trapp