Why Can't I Get Away With Anything?
or Whose Agenda Is It, Anyway?
A Christians, we know that the death of Jesus on the Cross was all the punishment necessary for
our sins. As we grow in Christ, we begin to recoginze other truths that, at first glance, seem to
contradict the idea that we are not going to be punished for our sins.
Many Christians have noticed that as they matured spiritually, they become more and more aware of sin which had previously slipped under the radar. This is a fairly common phenomenon. Once God brings our disobedience to our attention, it is often necessary to confess and repent before peace returns. Being human, we occasionally have moments of weakness. If such a moment occurs and we give any of these problem sins a temporary foothold, it can make us miserable.
Condemnation vs. Conviction--How to spot the differenceIt is vital to note that there is a difference being convicted by the Holy Spirit and feeling condemned. Condemnation is nothing less than a lie of Satan, and is not of God. One surefire way to spot condemnation is that it makes a believer feel worthless and unloved by God. In contrast, conviction of the Holy Spirit is an uneasy sense about our sin; something doesn't sit well, because God is dwelling in our spirit, and He is a holy God, so sin does not fit in His presence.
Did you catch the difference? Condemnation causes you to focus on yourself. Conviction is focused on the sin. The old saying that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner is much more than a cliche. It contains the incredibly liberating truth that God loves us.
Having established that, it is important to acknowledge that God can and will allow us to experience conviction; to sense a wrongness with our behavior, which is accompanied by an unquenchable need to make things right.
When this happens, many Christians feel nothing less than miserable about their sin. And it seems to come more quickly as we grow in Christ. In other words, there are some sins that we seemed to, for lack of a better way to put it, "get away with", during the earlier phase of our Christianity, but now the leash has gotten noticeably shorter.
Perhaps those reading this have struggled as I have with these questions:
Why can't God just let it slide?
Why do I have to feel terrible when I sin?
Why do I have to confess with my mouth?
Is God moving more and more toward a "zero tolerance policy?" toward me?
Why does God no longer let me get away with anything?
Perhaps you want to argue with God, tell Him that nobody is perfect, and that you'd appreciate it if He were as lenient with you now as He used to be. God should just give you some credit for trying your best, and He should recognize just how far you have come. Doesn't that count for anything?
The fact is, the more we mature spiritually, the less tolerant of sin God becomes. That should not be surprising, if you think about it. After all, we tolerate behavior from a 2-year old that we cannot condone from a 12-year-old. And we hold an even tougher standard for an adult than a 12-year-old. The principle is this: With maturation comes responsibility to perform better.
Please don't let the word "perform" cross you up. This is not about salvation. Jesus paid for your sins once, and that was all that was needed. Those who have accepted His free gift are covered and do not need to perform to gain God's acceptance. Because on that day when when we will stand before Him, He will see Jesus in us, and that will be good enough to secure our future with Him. But this isn't about salvation. Beyond the topic of salvation is something else: God's agenda. And God's agenda is very different from what we might think.
Chapters 61 and 62 of Isaiah give us a clear illustration of what is important to God.
Isaiah 61:1-3"The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is on Me; because Jehovah has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to preach the acceptable year of Jehovah and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the mantle of praise for the spirit of heaviness; so that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that He might be glorified."
Notice how this passage ends. Kind things are done for people, not for the purpose of making their lives better, but so that He might be glorified.
When we take on His righteousness, it is to further the goal which was mentioned in the verses from earlier in the chapter: the goal is to glorify God. Let's read on, in the next chapter:
Isaiah 62:1-4"For Zion's sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until its righteousness goes out as brightness, and her salvation as a burning lamp. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah will name. You also will be a crown of glory in the hand of Jehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You will no more be called Forsaken; nor will your land any more be called Desolate; but you will be called My Delight is in her, and your land, Married; for Jehovah delights in you, and your land is married."
Isaiah 62:6-7"I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who will not always be silent all the day nor all the night; you who remember Jehovah, do not be silent. And give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth."
It's All About HimSo it becomes obvious that our sin, any sin that we let into our lives, is standing in the way of His righteousness. And His righteousness needs to be in us, not for our benefit (even though we do benefit), but because of His good name.
Want more Scriptural proof? How about going to the most famous of all Old Testament passages, the 23rd Psalm. Verse 3 tells us that "He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. " Did you get that? He is not leading us in righteousness for any other reason than the good of His name. It is all about Him. Our sin keeps us from our primary purpose: being beacons which can point to Him, so that He will get glorified. It isn't about us. It never was. God's agenda is to do what it takes to glorify His name.
It may take a while to let that sink in. It is not about us. Even our good behavior, our ability to resist temptation, is not about us. This is why God cannot allow us, who have become His adopted children, to do things which would do harm to His name.
So the next time you wonder why God cares about your sin, it may help to focus on what is most important to God: that His ambassadors (you and me) will be able to glorify Him on this earth.
If you find that a particular study has been helpful, I'd love to hear from you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.