In Romans 5 Paul explains how sin came into the world for all of us through one man, Adam. And he contrasts that our freedom from that sin came to the world for all of us through one, Jesus. This sounds like complete simplicity, and it really is, but our own minds get in the way of this understanding when we throw complicating factors in the mix. Our freedom and our redemption has already been paid for and it is completely ours through our complete surrender to Christ. But since we still find ourselves tied up in within the very real battles of our sin and our flesh motivated by our selfish desires, we get caught up in a mind game of “how saved am I”, or did I lose what was given to me when I tripped up and knowlingly or even unknowlingly allowed my flesh to overcome me? How we respond in these moments is absolutely critical! We can either run from God in our shame, or run toward God in repentance. Our undisciplined and natural tendency is always going to want to run from God first, which is what Adam tried to do when he “hid” from God in the garden and covered himself with fig leaves. Obviously, he wasn’t even capable of hiding from a God who sees all, and neither are we, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. Sometimes we would rather beat ourselves up for having the struggle than bring that struggle to the feet of Jesus and ask Him to help us overcome it, and this is where we get ourselves stuck. Sometimes for a few hours, or just for the day, but some of our issues have such a hold on us that we live in a long-term internal battle with them in our minds because we are just too ashamed to look at Jesus face to face and ask him for his help. If we only knew just how deeply he loves us even when we are deep in our sin struggles, this would so drastically change our response. But our minds lie to us and pull us in the direction of shame. Unfortunately, When we go the shame route, we allow the shame of failure to dominate our thoughts and drive us away from God by disconnecting us from our peace with God and this disrupts our confidence in our salvation. We think God is mad at us and we are also mad at us so we either self-inflect punishments on ourselves and imagine them coming from God, or we deflect our sin issue by comparing ourselves to someone else who we think might be worse off than us so we don’t have to feel so bad. Either way, when we let guilt and shame in, we are on the run in the complete opposite direction from God and we will not feel at peace again until we come back to God and repent and reconcile with Him so we can be healed.
The healthy response to our sin is so beautifully represented by King David in the story of his adulterous sin with Bathsheba (not in today’s reading, just in my thoughts as I write this) because in the middle of his complete guilt of adultery which even led to murder, King David was seen as a “man after God’s own heart” because of his response when he was confronted by that sin. When Nathan the prophet confronted King David, his immediate response was repentance. He acknowledged his sin and accepted God’s correction knowing that the correction was for his good and would bring reconciliation between himself and God. When the child conceived in their adulterous sin died, King David grieved and accepted that consequence, but he did not stay in a state of guilt or shame. He was now reconciled back to God because of his repentant response, so he was no longer looking back at that failure. He was now also properly and honestly married to Bathsheba so now he was in a place where he could comfort his wife in their pain together, and because they moved forward after the failure instead of consuming their minds with looking back, they were rewarded by God’s favor and blessing when they conceived and gave birth to a son who would grow up to be King Solomon, the most wise king that Israel ever had. If that is not a beautiful picture of redemption, I just don’t know what is!
The main point I want to pull out of all of this is that the nature of the sin issues themselves are not what define us when we are found in sin. It is our REPONSE to our sin that determines whether we run from God and hide when we fail, or whether we run toward God in reconciliation. This is so critically important, and it changes everything! We can’t afford to wait when we identify we have an issue. Every day we need to clear the slate and make sure that we can look to Jesus face to face without a veil of shame knowing that he deeply loves us, approves of us and is with us to walk out the process of our struggles. When we stay connected to him this way and don’t allow anything to separate us from Him, we no longer have to doubt his complete favor and blessing for our lives.