“Christian … and yes I mean Christian … what is your sin of choice? What remnant of the flesh sticks around and still disrupts your experiential peace with God, peace with self, and peace with your neighbor? Peter struggled with faith. Martha struggled with anxiety. John the Baptist struggled with despair.”
What is your sin of choice? What is your wicked default mode? What is your spiritual thorn in the flesh that God has not yet removed from your life? What transgression is it that causes you to say with the Apostle Paul, “Oh, wretched man that I am!” What character trait or conduct have you that greatly troubles your Lord and Savior?
Is your default sin an internal issue? Is it a matter of the head and heart? Do you consistently break God’s Law by having sinful fear, sinful anxiety, sinful depression, or Satanic pride? Do you persistently struggle with too little contentment, satisfaction, or thanksgiving? Are you one who constantly complains about God’s providence in your life? Are you perpetually materialistic or hedonistic? Daily, do you struggle with unrighteous lust or anger? On the outside, do you look holy and righteous while the inside you know you are still spiritually putrid?
Has your internal default sin now become uncovered? Has the transgression lurking within your soul leaked out? Has your fear resulted in lazy despondency? Has your pride and self-love manifested itself in lying, gossip, or slander? Has your covetousness turned into fraud and thievery? Has your lust resulted in pornography or some hedonistic rendezvous? Perhaps your internal anger has now led to emotional, verbal, or physical abuse; perhaps even murder?
Christian … and yes I mean Christian … what is your sin of choice? What remnant of the flesh sticks around and still disrupts your experiential peace with God, peace with self, and peace with your neighbor? Peter struggled with faith. Martha struggled with anxiety. John the Baptist struggled with despair. James and John struggled with pride. The Corinthians struggled with self-control. The Galatians struggled with discrimination. Moses struggled with anger. Samson struggled with sex. David. the man after God’s own heart, struggled with everything — pride in taking the census; disrespect in his manner of moving the Ark; slothfulness in his not going to war; lust in his actions towards Bathsheba; hard-heartedness in his covering over his sin; anger and murder in his actions towards Uriah; self-righteousness in his initial response to Nathan.
Christian, whatever your sinful issue may be, be it seen or unseen by your neighbors, it is clearly seen by God. He is omniscient and omnipresent. He is the Divine One who sees not as man sees, so while men look on the outside and are deeply impressed with your spirituality, he looks on the inside and is deeply displeased with our sin. Today, there is not a thought that goes through your head that is not noticed by him. Today, there is not a word uttered that he does not clearly hear. Whatever your actions, be they public or private, God is dwelling above, around, and within. God is watching, noting, and hating all your various transgressions.
Here is the good news — Jesus Christ died on the cross for all your sins. There is not a one of them that was not covered by his atonement. Whatever your particular sin might be — internal or external, hidden or exposed, private or public, lawful or lawless, new or old — there is no condemnation remaining for that transgression. Sure, there may be grace-based discipline and grace-allowed consequences, but no condemnation remains for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus paid it all!
However, don’t you for a moment think your sin passes by without displeasing the heart of your Lord and Savior. He still becomes righteously indignant with your sin. As the Jealous Lover, he cannot stand your lack of faithfulness and fidelity to him and your perpetual returning to your pathetic idols. Positionally, you are his beloved child in whom he delights. Experientially, you are still one who daily grieves or brings pleasure to your Lord, Savior, and Heavenly Lover. Your union and adoption is fixed and unalterable; this is not the case with your experiential communion.
Therefore sinful, guilty, and beloved Christian, how ought you to respond? What ought you to do as you find yourself to be a “sinful man after God’s own heart?” Why not pray along with the sinful messiah — King David. Allow the inspired prayer he penned guide you in expressing your sin, your repentance, and your desire to walk forth in holy communion. The following comes from Psalm 51:
Trusting in God’s love and mercy
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; According to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Trusting in God’s sacrifice for your sin nature and your sins
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Trusting in God’s reconciliation, filling, and aid in sanctification
Let me hear joy and gladness; Let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Recommiting to walk in love, worship, holiness, and obedience
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Dear friends, do not listen to the false accusations of Satan. Your position in Christ has not been altered or affected. Yes, Jesus hates your sin, but he loves you. And yes, he hates the fact that you thought, talked, and walked as a rebellious prodigal, but he also hates the fact that you have not yet come back home. Believer in Jesus Christ, hate your sin with a holy passion! Loathe your iniquities! Do not, for a moment, cherish the thought of cheap grace! However, do not keep yourself at an arm’s length from your Loving Savior. Do not put yourself in timeout. There is no probation period before spiritual intimacy can be pursued. Your sin is being increased with every moment you spend not seeking experiential communion with your grieving Savior. Obey, repent, and be reconciled to your Best Friend.
Then realize that some day, Jesus will completely take away your sin nature. One day, you will not have to confess your sins any longer. However, until that wonderful day when you are taken to glory, repentance will be a major part of your worship. Your repentance will be your perpetual offering to the one who paid it all. So today, as you find yourself again to be “a sinful man after God’s own heart,” trust his heart and go running back into his open arms.
Joseph A. Franks IV is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina. This article first appeared on his blog, and is used with permission.