This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.
In an earlier post I talked about how God sees our sin, and that if we want to be victorious in our battle with sin, we need to see it from God’s perspective. When God sees our sin, he sees the pervasiveness of our sin, and in his holiness, he rejects us in our sin. The way Jesus saves us is by being rejected for us. When Jesus declared on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was being rejected in our place, so that we might be accepted by the Father. Understanding this perspective on sin is the crucial first step to living in victory over sin.
In this post, I want to talk about what we can do to make our perspective on sin more in line with God’s.
1. We must humble ourselves by confessing the truth about ourselves
In our struggle with sin, we have to come to the point where we admit the truth of what God has shown us in Isaiah 1:5-6 the whole body is sick.
The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds…
I think we have an amazing ability to accept our total depravity as a theological proposition, and yet fail to ever make it a personal affirmation.
When was the last time you saw yourself in this way? If you look at your life and your behavior, chances are that you will not come to this conclusion about yourself. Oh, after a big failure, you may see it a little more clearly than you do at other times, but even then you will be likely to say, “but at least I’m not as bad as I could be. At least there are some others out there who have done worse than I have.”
We are like a soccer player who has fallen down on a muddy field. And the whole left side of our uniform is covered with mud. And yet we look at the other player, who fell on his right side, and we somehow think we are better because we haven’t dirtied the same part of our uniform as he has. Or we look at him and say, “yeah, but at least my mud is cleaner than your mud!”
We fight to save our reputation, in our own eyes, before God, and before others. But if we want to experience victory, there must be a humbling of ourselves. Several times in Isaiah, pride is pointed to as what will ultimately bring us under the judgement of God.
Twice in chapter 2, God’s judgement is spoken of as being against the pride of man. Isaiah 2:11-12
The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up–and it shall be brought low. (see also verse 17)
This is why both the Apostle James and the Apostle Peter quote Prov. 3:34 God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. And James adds in 4:10 Humble yourselves, before the Lord, and he will exalt you. And how do we humble ourselves? James goes on to tell us in 5:16: Confess your sins to each other.
We humble ourselves by CONFESSING the truth about ourselves.
I have been amazed at how many times I have heard since coming back to the U.S., “Bryan, I just don’t have anyone I feel that I can open up to” I’ve heard this so often its becoming a theme. Even pastor-friends have told me this: there is no one I can be honest with. Brothers and sisters, together as a church we should be on our faces before God begging his forgiveness for the pride in our hearts that keeps us from confessing our sins to one another. Do we want to see victory and blessing in our lives and in our churches? Then let us humble ourselves before God, and confess our state of spiritual destitution before him and before one another!
I have found that when the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, he almost always shows me to whom I should confess that sin. There have been times that it has taken me days or even weeks to submit to his voice. (“Lord, there is no way that I can confess that to him!”)
I can point to a turning point in my spiritual life as as teenager, when I confessed sin to my father that the Lord had been putting his finger on for a long time. I have humbled myself on multiple occasions and gone to my sons and said, “I was wrong, will you forgive me.” Countless are the times that I have confessed my sin to my wife, or to Christian brothers. Confession of sin within the Body is an integral part of our lives as Christians, and it flows from our acceptance of the fact that we really have no reputation to uphold. We are completely and totally depraved. We are sinners of the worst kind, and nothing we can confess could make us seem worse that we actually are. If we want to walk in victory, we need to rediscover this discipline of confession of sin.
2. We look to Jesus and find our acceptance with God only in Him.
There is something extremely freeing in the fact that God rejects us as sinners. When God forgives us and saves us, it is not as if he is just giving us a second chance. It is not as if we have another opportunity to prove to him that we really can do it this time. We no longer have to prove to him and to ourselves that we really aren’t that bad. We are free to admit the truth, that we really *are* that bad. We are free to reject our sinful flesh as totally unable to do anything that is pleasing to God. And we turn in faith to the Lord Jesus, and trust him to do what we cannot do.
Your sinful flesh isn’t getting any better. You are just as much in need of God’s grace today as you ever have been in your life. When you fall flat on your face in your sin, God is showing you once again how much you need Jesus. In Christ, he has rejected that sinful you, and He has given you a new identity in Christ. So you need to reject that sinful you as well, and turn your eyes to Jesus and confess to him, It is only through your cross, Lord Jesus, that I can be acceptable to God. Thank you for your grace!
It is only when we look at sin from God’s perspective that we can be victorious over it.
And what is God’s perspective on sin?
He sees the pervasiveness of our sin. Our total depravity. Will you agree with him about that, and confess your sin before him and before the Body?
He sees that the sinner must be rejected. And so his very Son was forsaken on the cross in your place. Jesus died so that your sinful self might be forever and completely rejected. Will you now live that out, by refusing to look for anything good in you apart from Christ? Will you live that out by admitting that you are just as much in need of God’s grace today as you ever have been?
This post is based on a SERMON that is available by clicking here.