If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve probably seen me write about the power of God to transform a life—any life. No matter how far we’ve fallen. Or how far we haven’t fallen (or don’t think we’ve fallen).
The grace and mercy of God, His power to redeem, are limitless. (If you’re looking for proof, check out the lives of Peter and Paul.)
The thing is God doesn’t force His redemption on anyone. We have to choose it. Because if there’s no option to choose, there cannot be love, and God is the essence of true, powerful, life-altering love.
But when we choose God’s redemption, it’s not a one-time thing.
We choose first to be redeemed from sin and its eternal consequences.
Then we have to choose over and over (and over) to be delivered from the power of sin in our lives on this earth.
So no, I don’t doubt God’s power to transform a life. But I also have great faith in a human’s ability to wreck His work.
Because sometimes we don’t really want to be delivered.
Oh, sure, we say we want freedom from this sin that’s causing havoc in our lives. We say we want all the blessings God has to offer.
But maybe we don’t really, truly mean that.
Because sin has its attractive side. That’s why we fall into it in the first place.
- We say we want deliverance from an explosive temper that hurts our family and friends. But the rush of power that anger affords—well, we like that feeling.
- We say we want contentment in our season of life. But we don’t want to forgo our fantasies about “someday, when something we want will make our lives perfect.”
- We say we want freedom from lust in our daily lives. But a little bit of pornography is so thrilling. And the sexy stuff in R-rated movies doesn’t even count as real pornography, right?
- We say we want peace that passes understanding. But worrying and fretting about something offers a feeling of control, and how could we cope without that security?
- We say we want good physical health (and why doesn’t God give it?). But we don’t want to deny ourselves the pleasure of eating whatever we want whenever we want it.
We say we want complete freedom in Christ. But we don’t really want to sacrifice any pleasures at all.
We’d rather lament our unwinnable battles and shame ourselves for our failures.
Believe me, I’ve been there. Still am there, to an extent. (You know I’m always preaching to myself on my weblog.)
We sin, we regret it, we castigate ourselves for being such wretched followers of Christ, and then when we’ve properly chastised ourselves, we allow ourselves to believe He forgives us.
And then we do the same thing again.
Because self-loathing is cheap.
Oh, sure it’s painful.
But not as painful as changing our behavior.
Changing will cost us.
Changing requires us to see our sin, even the pleasant parts, for what they are.
Changing requires us to deny what our flesh wants in favor of what Christ wants.
Changing requires us to stop justifying ourselves and start believing what God says.
Changing requires us to “put off the old man and put on the new” (Colossians 3:9-10). And that’s hard. Really hard
Of course we’ll never accomplish that without God’s Holy Spirit working in us. But the Holy Spirit won’t accomplish it without our participation, either.
So what do we really want? The abundant life Christ offers? Or the temporary enjoyments of our folly and sin?
Maybe we need to do some soul-searching. (Frankly, I hate self-analysis, but it’s a very necessary thing.) Maybe we need to find out what we really want. And whether what we really want needs to change.