Grace has been on my tongue my entire life. In my head, the concept has been simple enough. I cannot save myself. There it is. I was saved by God and for no reason apart from it was His pleasure to do so. And yet, again, grace is becoming more and more clear with age. It is a process. I wouldn't say I didn't know it at all, but like a person, I have grown from being an acquaintance to a close friend ( I hope).
God keeps revealing His grace to me. And this time, He has shown me that I am a liar, and firstly to myself. Whenever I am shown to be a sinner, I have responded by trying my best to cut that sin out, not realizing that the sin is there not as branch, but there is an actual root to it. I have a sin nature. It is a part of me. To obliterate it as I have, is to lie. For example, I don't just occasionally lust. I have a lustful heart. I don't just feel anger, I have an angry heart. Knowing these to be bad, I never took them to God. Always have tried to clean up first, for how could God love me if I am not first clean? So, I would find victory over anger or lust or selfishness and think I had claimed victory once and for all... only to have those come back again and again. The cycle so exhausting I have sometimes longed for an end.
God is faithful. He has shown me that I need not lie. I don't need to clean myself up. If anything, He yearns for me to come to Him as I am. It is His good pleasure to take my weakness and use it. He loves it when I come to Him dirty, and I show Him what I am. As if He didn't already know? Is it not like finding out a best friend or family member has dealt with something enormous, and you only find out about it afterwards. Are you not hurt? Is it not your great honor to be a part of overcoming, of being there? Surely it is!
Now I do not lie, to myself or God about who I am. I have a sin nature, and it will not be obliterated in this life. It is a part of me. I need not kill it. I need only to take it, every day, and subject it in obedience. Oh how strange it sounds to say that freedom is real. There really is freedom in being who you are and simply asking for help.
The irony is that when I tried to clean myself up, I sinned all the more. Unnatural and off, my frustration and anger bore out a constant rebellion. Now, having actually accepted that I am unclean apart from grace, and come to God with my sin nature, my sin has been so much less. My ability to obey has increased a hundred fold, as I no longer feel any burden. Obeying out of love is so much better than out of fear.
Don't lie to yourself, or to God. We cannot cut out who we are. Every time I have done so, I die with whatever it is I am trying to cut out. Though my heart, my liver, my lungs are but parts of my body, and not the whole, take any of them out and I die. So it is with what we are inside. We must come whole and honest. Funny thing is, I have never felt that God delighted in me until now. I have said it my head, but never felt it true. Now I see that God delights in me now, dirt and all.
May you and I both be shown this truth and not turn from it. May the Holy Spirit ever minister to us. May all things bring us closer to God. May you feel the delight that God has in you today! Amen.