Posted On May 29, 2013

The Importance of Dealing With Sin and Growing in Grace

by | May 29, 2013 | Sexual Sin

Over the past year or so I’ve written a lot on pornography. One of the reasons for this should be obvious as I believe the Bible teaches that God created sex to be within the confines of the marriage relationship. Whether it is pre-marital sex, homosexuality, pornography or any other sexual perversion, I believe anything short of sex within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman is wrong and dishonors God. It dishonors God because He created marriage. Some people feel in our culture that we are just “prudes” and “bigots” but really it goes much further than this. When people accuse Christians of being bigots and prudes what they are really saying is they disagree with what the Bible teaches. Sadly, most of these people then come to the Bible to justify their behavior. The truth though is there is no justification for homosexuality or any other deviant sexual behavior.  The Bible roundly and repeatedly condemns sexual sin because it dishonors God who created and sustains the world we inhabit.

Here’s the rub and I think it’s an important point: Those who advocate for sex outside of marriage are more than dishonoring God.  What they are doing is seeking to establish their own rules and justification for their sin. Maybe you think I am being too harsh, but I am speaking from personal experience. As a Christian of over twenty years I’ve struggled with sexual sin. While I no longer struggle with sexual sin by the grace of God, the love of a godly wife, and the protection of good pornography software, I know well that I could struggle very easily. It is easy to lust after things I want and to look at unrighteous images. That is just a fact. The only deterrent to looking at images and other things that pull at my heart is the Gospel. When those images from my past come back (and they do), I have to preach the Gospel to myself. I have to put on the armor of God every day. While I’ve been forgiven and washed in the blood of Jesus, I earnestly believe I will still have to deal with the consequences of my sin violating my conscience over and over again. That is not a message that is popular in Christianity today. The reason that is the case is because we have an extremely low view of sin and a very low view of God.  This has occurred because we are spoon fed self-help and self-esteem messages that run counter to the Gospel. The fact is as Martin Luther once said, “We are both saints and sinners”.

As saints we are forgiven totally and completely by our Savior. This includes our justification, adoption, and all that entails. Yet, we are still sinners. We are forgiven and yet we need to daily repent of sin. Martin Luther again is helpful when he noted in the beginning of his 95 thesis that the Christian life is a life of ongoing repentance. By ongoing repentance what Luther meant was the Christian needs to constantly turn away from sin due to the fact we are still sinners. We still battle against the flesh, the world and the devil.  If you don’t think that you still struggle with sin, you are deceived by Satan. The truth of the matter is our flesh wants to be gratified. We are too quick to blame Satan when we should blame our flesh. Our flesh is strong and wants to be satisfied by indulging in worldly pleasures which is why we must daily submit ourselves to the Word and to the work of the Son. To do so is to humble ourselves before God and ask Him to continue to cleanse and purify us. This is at the heart of what it means to grow and progressively becoming like Jesus Christ, the process of sanctification. This is the old paths the Puritans described time and time again: repent of sin and grow to be like Jesus. To become more like Jesus necessarily involves growing in holiness. To not grow in holiness is to disregard and use the grace of God as a license to sin. We desperately need a high view of God, a high view of sin and a low view of ourselves if we are ever to see the radicalness of the grace of God that Paul described. It is precisely because of such a lack of understanding God and sin that many Christians are struggling with sexual sin.  Rather than reveling and basking in wonder at God’s grace, they abuse the grace of God thinking they can do whatever they want and live however they like. Yet there is no justification for this behavior as a Christian. You’ve been saved for a purpose and that purpose is to grow in the grace of God.

I know well what it means to abuse the grace of God. When I went through a particular hard time in my life, I started drinking and doing things I should not have done. While this was many years ago, the reason I behaved that way is I justified my behavior. I said, “It is okay” but it wasn’t, and as a seasoned Christian I knew better. I got convicted in short order and God changed my heart immediately. It was painful and I lost a lot of friends from high school during this time because I just couldn’t do the things they were doing. While I tried to explain my change of lifestyle, I probably did so in a way that was offensive and unloving. Thankfully, some of my friends understood but overtime we slowly drifted away as I got married and became more focused on my marriage and ministry. Yet, as I’ve thought recently about this period of justifying my sin, I’ve also come to realize that I am not the only one who attempts to justify their sin.

I recently wrote an article about pornography for a popular Christian website that I highly respect (http://cbmw.org/men/manhood/overcoming-an-addiction-to-pornography-and-embracing-purity-part-1/  and http://cbmw.org/men/manhood/overcoming-an-addiction-to-pornography-and-embracing-purity-part-2/ ). Thankfully that article was well-received but it got me thinking also about how we hide from our sin rather than placing it under the scope of God’s presence. I think one of the biggest struggles for Christians like me who’ve grown up in the Church is justifying and becoming apathetic towards sin. Rather than using our maturity and freedom in Christ to disciple newer Christians, we instead recuse ourselves to the sidelines. To be perfectly frank with you, this saddens me and is why I am writing this article with tears in my eyes.

The time for justifying ourselves, for being apathetic and sitting on the sidelines needs to cease. The Kingdom of God is both now and future. It is now that we are given the time to proclaim the Good news of the Gospel. In the future, it will be our joy to sit before the throne of Jesus and enjoy an eternity sitting at His feet worshiping the Lamb who is worthy of all glory and honor. Yet now we have a charge to sit at the feet of His under-shepherds and hear His perfect Word preached from finite man and to worship with other sinners who have yet to be glorified. All of this is truly good news. God wants us to grow in His grace, to sit ultimately at His feet, and to share His Word in His power, under His authority to the praise of the Triune God. Don’t make excuses for why you are struggling with your discipleship anymore but rather step out in faith, daily repent of your sin, and engage the work God has given you to do for His glory. There will come a day when all our work will cease but for now there is much work to be done. It should be our prayer that we be found faithfully working for the Master.

Rather than sitting on the sidelines, seasoned Christians should find ways they can serve in their respective churches and communities. There are always hurting people to pray for. If you can write reasonably well then get a blog. If you can speak well consider prayerfully seeking the Lord about opportunities He may give you to minister to others. There is always street ministry, homeless shelters, pregnancy centers and many other opportunities to minister to the lost and hurting. Pray and seek the Lord about where and what He would have you do. There is much work to be done for the Kingdom in these days, but there are still very few laborers. Don’t sit on the sidelines and be apathetic and complain, but rather get up off your seat, get out into the ripened fields and by His grace get busy for the Kingdom of God spreading the fame of Jesus to all people that they might be saved and grow in His grace for His glory.

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