Much of the time, they get discouraged, seeing that they still engage in sinful thoughts and actions, that their behavior is not always "Christian-like."
They despair of God's love for them, and they stop going to church.
Some pastors and ministers fall into this discouragement, convinced that they are not worthy to bear the message of God's grace to a fallen, sighing, dying world, because they still see sin in their lives.
Much of this confusion has to do with a limited understanding of all that Jesus did at the Cross for us.
He did not just die for us and our sins, but He also died as us and condemned sin in our flesh.
"1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. " (Romans 8: 1-4)
We are delivered from sins and from sin, including the sin in our flesh.
Whatever feelings we may sense in our bodies, whatever sense of shame or hurt which we inflict in ourselves or others inflict us, we are set free from all of it because of what Jesus did at the Cross.
We are no longer in ourselves, but we are in Christ:
"20For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 21Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." (2 Corinthians 1: 20-22)
God is establishing us now in Christ. We do not establish ourselves.
Now, if He has established us, then there is no going away from Him. The issue for all of us is not getting rid of sin in our lives (for He is the propitiation for all our sins as well as the sins of the entire world -- 1 John 2: 1-2). The issue is relying more on His grace and less on our efforts.
The problem is no longer sin, but rather identifying further with His Spirit instead of our flesh, our selves, our efforts.
As I had written before, "Graduate School Love" is not our doing more, but our recognize that we are in Christ, and no longer in ourselves, and that God loves us just as much as His own Son:
"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)
Peter writes at the end of his second epistle:
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3: 18)
|He Holds Us in His Spirit|
"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalm 139: 7-10)
The Beloved David, who is a picture of all of us, beloved in the sight of God because we are accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1: 6).
He is a picture of a man living under a New Covenant, and no matter where he goes, he knows that God is with him.
Notice that our sins do not put God away from us, or cause His Spirit to leave us. David's prayer in Psalm 51, that God would not take His Spirit from him, is no longer the prayer in Psalm 139.
God has searched David (and all of us), and He knows everything (Psalm 139: 1)
He specifically mentions His Spirit in this psalm:
"5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Psalm 139: 5-7)
His hand is on us, not to lead us to bad but to good:
"5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." (Psalm 23: 5-6)
Back in Psalm 139, whether he goes to heaven or hell, David recognizes that God is with him.
The verse that is particularly fascinating, however, points to David's attempt to take the wings of the morning and live in the deepest parts of the ocean.
Obviously, that destination is further away than the grave or hell, and to this day, man has not explored vast stretches of the ocean floor.
|The Deepest Parts of the Sea Cannot|
Separate Us From God our Father
Yet even if David takes the fastest means, the rays of sunlight which touch the earth at the dawn of morning, not only is God still there, but God is leading David, and His right hand holds him.
So, even if we are trying our best to get away from God (forget about falling away in our ignorance or despair), not only does God not go away from us, but He is in fact leading us. When we think that we are going away from Him, we are actually growing closer to Him and walking more in concert with His Will.
This may seem strange, but in reality this revelation should give us great comfort and hope. We cannot be lost from God our Father once we are saved. We cannot get away from Him, even when we want to. Even if we get angry with Him and blame Him for our troubles, He does not stop caring for us and carrying us through hard times.
In short -- Even when we try to flee, He is closer than ever to us!