Dealing with sin without becoming a legalist (2)

by Sep 15, 2010

Dealing with sin without becoming a legalist (2)

by Sep 15, 2010

In Part 1, we saw how God confronted Isaiah’s sin with his grace. How might God do the same today? I’ve borrowed a very helpful diagram from The Gospel-Centered Life by Bob Thune and Will Walker to show how this works over the course of our lives:

Between-Two-Thieves-1

This shows the life of someone who’s walking closely with God over time. When you’re saved by God, you don’t see much of God’s holiness, and you don’t see much of your sin. But over time, God gives you more experiences like he gave Isaiah. You see more of his glory and his holiness. You see more about him that’s awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping.

In the light of his glory you see more of your own sinfulness, like turning on the lights in a room and seeing the cockroaches scatter. You see beyond the obvious external sins, and you start seeing the heart-level ugliness inside. And the more you see how far apart you are from God, the bigger the cross becomes. You see how incredible God’s grace is, poured out on the cross to bridge the gap between his holiness and your sinfulness. And that’s how the gospel grows and bears fruit in your life like Paul talks about in Colossians 1:6. You start accepting more of God’s grace, and the result is that you start looking more like God.

But there’s a problem. We’re sinful, so most of us don’t always live that way.

Between-Two-Thieves-2

We don’t always grow in our awareness of God’s glory. We’re happy to have him as our copilot, just there to back us up when we need him. And we don’t always grow in our awareness of our sin. We keep on doing the same things we’ve always done, without ever stopping to ask ourselves whether we’re pleasing God or not. And so the cross just stays small. We don’t appreciate the grace of God very much, so it doesn’t affect us very much. We stay the same.

How does that happen, and what can we do about it? More tomorrow.