written by Annie Zeng
Towards the end of fall quarter, a series of events led me to realize that in my pride I had forgotten how lowly I was in the light of God and His holiness. As a result, one of my new year’s resolutions was to identify three specific moments that I had sinned during the day, confess them to the Lord in prayer, and ask for His forgiveness. My goal was to remind myself of my own sinfulness by becoming more aware of it. To me, it had become too easy to only say that I was sinful, and I thought that forcing myself to recognize concrete ways that I had sinned throughout each day would help me to really believe it again.
Over the next few weeks, I kept up with my resolution. And as I had anticipated, it made me see the ugliness of my sin more and more, things that nobody else ever saw a hint of. There were so many hidden moments of impatience, bitterness, discontentment, selfishness, laziness, ungratefulness, and so on. Throughout the day, I would mentally catalogue these moments away so that before bedtime, I could choose three to bring before God. It was humbling to come before His throne night after night in prayer, acknowledging how lowly I was. I felt like a child who had accidentally broken a precious vase, owning up to my parents that it was my fault. But instead of it being a one-time thing, I was breaking vases every day.
I grew more and more discouraged as the weeks went on. During one conversation, I came to realize that even though I had been growing greatly in my recognition of my sins, it hadn’t been accompanied with a desire to fight them. I felt stuck in a rut, and I wasn’t sure why. My original problem had been pride, and if the definition of pride was not having a lowly enough view of myself, then shouldn’t seeing the extent of my sinfulness have been enough to motivate me to pursue holiness harder?
What was I doing wrong? Did I need more accountability to remind me how much I needed to be fighting about my sin? Did I need to be reading the Bible more so that I could compare myself even more regularly to the commands that we are called to follow? Did I need to be praying harder that God would give me a heart that desired personal holiness even more? There were so many sins that I saw in myself every day, and I felt overwhelmed and guilt-ridden by how much there was to fight. How could I change the way I lived in a way that would rid my life of all the sins that I saw?
I failed to see that I had been asking myself a trick question. There was no way on earth that I could rid myself of all the sins that plagued my flesh, at least not in this world. I had unknowingly been comparing myself to an impossible standard of perfection, forgetting that this was the very reason that grace existed. When I think of the grace that God extends to us in Christ, it is easy to think of it in terms of the one or two “big sins” that I struggled with in high school. It is much harder to remember that His grace knows no bounds, that it holds fast for all the sins that I will ever commit, even the ones that have yet to happen. My problem was forgetting to find rest in the peace that we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Remembering this truth has lifted me out of the criticism and self-condemnation that I had been placing upon myself.
Beyond just forgetting that there is grace greater than all our sin though, I had also lost sight of what should be my ultimate motivation as I pursue my personal holiness. While it is true that understanding my own lowliness in the light of God’s holiness is helpful to realize the necessity of fighting sin even harder, understanding God’s infinite grace is what provides me with the motivation to. What will drive me to turn away when faced with temptation is not the guilt that I feel from not being good enough, but the thankfulness that fills my heart because I know that Christ’s blood covers my inadequacies. More than that, this truth gives me reason to not only run from sin, but run toward righteousness.
As we consider the grace that is extended to us in Christ, let us not be complacent because we know that all has been covered by his sacrifice for us. Rather, let that be a truth that compels us to turn from even more of our sins, doing so because of the precious ransom that has been paid for us. And let us do so knowing that even though our fight against sin is one that will not end until the day that we see God face to face, He will supply us with the grace we need to have the strength to fight sin in this life.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”