STEP ONE: Do you believe you need to fight?
The only way you’re ever going to fight your sin is if you believe you need to fight.
Most of us want to be secure and healthy individuals. Some of us convince ourselves we already are. We ignore the flare up symptoms of panic or anger or apathy that testify to our deep insecurity, and instead we compare ourselves to the women on the Bachelor & conclude that we’re doing relatively well.
Some of us acknowledge that we haven’t arrived in this area. We acknowledge that we may not be the perfect and flawless woman of God that we want to be. We want Him to change us and make us better, but when someone implies that we are somehow ‘responsible’ for our insecurity (as opposed to victims of a mysterious disease), we get outraged.
In order to fight our sin we have to acknowledge that our insecurity and our ungodly emotions are actually sin.
We have to acknowledge that when our desperate demand for our husband’s love consumes us – it is sin. We have to acknowledge that when we have a meltdown at work or at home because someone doesn’t seem to value what we do, the primary issue is in our heart ,not theirs. We have to acknowledge that our inability to forgive the person who comes to us broken and repentant is actually our failing. We have to acknowledge that the fear that consumes us – even though we don’t pursue it or recruit it – is sin.
Somewhere along the way we began to believe a couple of lies about sin:
- It can only be ‘sin’ if it you consciously physically act against a command of God.
- It can only be ‘sin’ if you have an opportunity to control and choose differently and you don’t.
Here’s what the bible says about sin: it’s not defined by an action – it can be a thought or a feeling. And it isn’t defined simply as doing or thinking something bad.
Sin is anything that doesn’t spring from an act of faith. That’s crazy. Paul says in Romans that everything that is not rooted in faith is sin. That means you could do everything right on the outside and still be in sin. You could be positive, happy and engaging and be in sin. You could be compassionate, kind and always in control of your emotions and be in sin. You could have no ‘bad’ emotions, but be lacking the ‘right’ emotions and be in sin.
This is a crazy way to define sin. And most of you are thinking – that can’t be right, because if that definition is right than a whole lot of my life is sin. The Bible must be wrong, or my understanding of it must be wrong, because otherwise I’m saying that you and I are far worse than we ever imagined.
Oh wait. Blast. I think that’s biblical.
With this definition of sin, I’m not sure any of us fall in the camp where the call to fight insecurity or emotional sin doesn’t apply to us. Can any of us say with confidence that we feel great about where we are with insecurity and emotions. Are your emotions always an overflow of faith? Do you always feel the joy that you should in the presence of the Lord? Do your emotions display He is trustworthy, true, kind, good, for you? Does your life reflect that you are constantly found in Him? Do you think thoughts and feel things and spend your time on things out of an absolute overflow of finding your security and worth in Him alone?
Or is it possible that your heart is a little darker than you might like to concede. Is it possible that the glorious emotions that God has put in you to reflect His value most often reflect the value you place on created things or reflect the value you place on self instead? Is it possible that a lot of your thoughts, a lot of your feelings and a lot of what you do is designed to fill an aching need to prove your own worth – and not an overflow of realizing you have that your worth is secure in Christ?
Is that possible? If so – the call from the Bible is to fight. The challenging thing about insecurity is that it produces thoughts or feelings that seem unbelievably natural and feel ridiculously ‘right’ to us. The thought of fighting them seems…overwhelming.
This fight seems so outside our control, and I think that’s actually one of the most encouraging things about this whole thing. When I teach on this, I frequently have students raise their hands in my classes and say ‘Fabs, this is so discouraging!’ When I ask them why, they explain: ‘because it’s impossible!’
That response always makes me so happy. Because I think when we get to the point where we’re throwing our hands in the air and declaring something impossible, we’re in a great spot. To look at the call of obedience in our lives and feel like it’s impossible for us is where we’re supposed to be. The disciples had this same reaction when Jesus told them what it would look like to enter into the kingdom of God. And his encouragement wasn’t: guys! You can totally do this! Don’t be so negative! No. He told them – you’re right. It is impossible. With man it is impossible, but with God it is possible.
That’s a big ‘but’. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like the call to have emotions that glorify God or the call to be secure in Christ is impossible. In your own strength it is absolutely impossible, but our hope of sanctification is not found in self. It’s found in a loving Father and a powerful Spirit and a redeeming Savior who has already purchased for us a new heart and a promise of sanctification.
None of the practical aspects I’m going to walk through in the next couple of posts even matter if you have not settled it in your heart that this is sin in your life that you want to fight. The great news is – even in this, you can’t do it alone. A heart that wants to fight is a gift of grace possible through His power alone. So spend some time praying for a heart like that. Beg God to give you a fresh perspective. Beg Him to reveal to you how deep your sin goes.
The glorious thing about being found in Christ is that we don’t have to be afraid to look at our failure. Pressing into our sin does not produce in us self loathing; it doesn’t threaten our worth or value. If looking at our sin makes us feel shaky or despairing, it’s probably a great time to stop and ask ourselves: are we really finding our security in Christ’s life and death alone?
Being a sinner does not disqualify us from the grace of God. Quite the contrary, knowing we’re sinners is what prepares us to receive the grace of God. My prayer for you is that you would be granted faith to believe that every flash of insecurity is a testimony of unbelief in the perfect promises of our Father; the shadows of fear and anxiety that darken your heart are evidence of idolatry.
I believe that the deeper you grasp this the deeper you will worship God. Yahweh. The God of our fathers. The God of Abraham and Issac and Jacob.
Our God made man: Jesus. The God who came for sinners, who came to give us freedom from defensiveness over sin, who came to give us the freedom to name our sin and acknowledge it’s evil without any fear of condemnation.
Confess your sin to Him. No one will bring a charge against you. Not because there is a shortage of evidence, but because the penalty has been paid in full. Thanks be to God through Christ our Lord.