“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9
I’ve been good about reading William Gurnall’s “The Christian in Complete Armor.” As I have said before, I have started it several times and quit. Why? Because it hit too close to home. Isn’t it odd how that works? Apparently Gurnell knows me better than I thought:
“Satan is not the only pitfall; the nature of our graces makes diligence essential. If not watched closely, they will play the truant. And a soul long absent from the school of obedience will not be eager to return and take up his old assignments. The reason is twofold. First, having neglected his duties, he is ashamed to face the Master. Second, he knows how much he has forgotten through neglect, and what late hours he must keep to recoup the loss. He goes to duty like a scholar who has not looked at his books for some time: his lesson is almost out of his head. Whereas another, who is always mulling it over, has it at his fingertips and is eager to begin his next assignment.” P. 78
This language is antiquated, but I think you get the drift. Yes, I was still a student, but I was not studying my lessons in ways that I should have. I seem to be headed back on the right track now, and I definitely feel God’s grace, mercy, and power which are making my struggles seem enjoyable (see Romans 5:3-5). I’m energized now when before I was spent all the time, so much so that I didn’t want to work on my sin (gluttony). I was fighting it all the time and yet going backwards in my results. It was extremely frustrating.
Isn’t this exactly what Gurnall is describing? The farther away I get from my lessons, the harder it is to go back. Why? Shame and the work needed to get back. Honestly, I’ve known all along that gluttony is spiritual and best fought using spiritual weapons. And, to my shame, I actually wanted to sin now and then by overeating or eating that which gives me problems. Sweets and salty snacks are trouble for me. Once I get started, watch out. Then, it’s like a snowball rolling down the hill. It simply cannot be stopped on my own power.
What I end up doing is trying to fix the mess I created. Like a boy who broke a window, I try to clean it up and hide it. That doesn’t work. I know, because that very thing happened to me when I was a kid. Yet, is my behavior any different than David’s sin with Bathsheba? One could argue the degree of sin may be different, but is the process? Maybe in the grand scheme of things, my sin isn’t any better or his worse. The solution we both took was the same as Adam and Eve: we hid from God.
Look at the agony David experienced as he separated himself from God because of his sin:
Psalm 32:3-4 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
David was certainly experienced in the things of God, yet he found himself crushed by him as he hid his sin. I’m no David, certainly, but I can relate. Repentance, true repentance, seems so difficult to desire. Sure, we all know it is the medicine that is needed, by how we avoid it! Or, at least I do. And why? See how kindly the Lord speaks to us:
Psalm 32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with a bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
Yes, he is compassionate and kind when he guides me back to him. What is it, truly, that I am afraid of? Let’s see what David writes in another Psalm:
Psalm 103:11-14 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
This isn’t rocket science, folks. In fact, it is so basic that is it almost too easy. Yet, here I was, again, trying to do things under my own power, to fix my own mess. Yes, I am but dust, but I have a God who understands and welcomes me back when I stray.
Father, thank you. Please let this message ring home. I’m pretty sure there are others out there who could use some encouragement. Amen.