"My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs on my head; therefore, my heart fails me." ~ Psalm 40:12
I'm a perfectionist. So whenever something goes wrong, or not according to plan, or I make a mistake, I become easily distraught. This is especially the case with sin.
Because I'm a Christian, I automatically think that, since I am striving to attain the righteousness of God, I am supposed to be perfect. Of course, I still sin, but not anything too extreme -- it's not like I'm a "transgressor" (*gasp of shock*) or anything.
And yet, like a dog returning to its vomit, I find myself committing the same sin. Again. And again. And again ...
Waking up this morning afflicted with terrible thoughts, realizing that I was falling into the same sin that I have struggled with for a long time (and just when I thought I was making real progress), I fell into despair. When I read Psalm 40:12 in my devotions, I was able to relate to every word. I felt like a hopeless failure, not able to lift her head up, much less look at the face of God. I thought to myself, "How long am I going to make this same mistake? Aren't I supposed to grow as a Christian and overcome these sins? I must not be a very good Christian!"
But, like the faithful Father He is, God spoke these words very clearly to me:
Noelle, being a "good Christian," as you call it, does not pertain the amount of times you sin. Being a Christian is growing more confident in the realization that when you sin, my grace will cover it. Being a Christian is believing in the power of my blood. Being a Christian is drawing upon my grace and mercy each time you stumble. Being a strong Christian is remembering that through my death on the cross, I have taken away the penalty for your sin. This does not mean, my child, that you will not sin. You are made from the dust of the earth. Yet you are filled with my breath, crafted by my hands, and I have redeemed your life from the pit of Sheol.
My love, if you do not believe that my sacrifice has cleansed you from the consequences of sin, though you still stumble, if you do not believe that my grace is sufficient for you, then my death may as well be in vain.
Take heart, dear reader. For those who fall into sin hear God's gospel the loudest and clearest.
When I go about my life without qualm or shortcoming, how easily I can fall into the mindset that I am acheiving righteousness all on my own! When I fall down, I quickly become angry that I let myself trip in the mud again when I was supposed to be so perfect! But when I lie there on the ground, the dirt of sin all over my face, my dear Jesus walks over to my side, lifts me up off the ground, lets his cleansing tears fall onto my face, and says to me tenderly, "My beloved, I alone can cleanse you from your sin." And then He embraces me with His grace, the dirt rubbing onto His own robe.
When you sin today (and yes, you will sin), embrace the gospel message in its entirety. Sometimes as Christians, we forget that the gospel still pertains to us, too. It fuels the very life we live! To forsake the gospel message and its healing power is to forsake Christ.
Remember, fellow sister or brother in Christ, that "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8), and "the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Walk in the light that He is willing to forgive us every time we sin. That's what His sarcrifice was for.
And dance in His never-ending grace.
"... As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."
"But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more."