I have been a Christian for at least 48 years of my life. Just this week though I realized something about myself that I had packed along on this new journey of Grace. Something that I had assumed all along and had just come along with me into what I thought was a new mindset. In actuality, I had just carried over the old mindset and applied it to the new.
The thing I realized was that at least from the time I entered Bible School at 19 till today I have looked at salvation as a means so that I might not sin. Of course I always knew I would never be sinless. But at least my idea of this Christian life was that as I "grew in the Lord" I would sin less and less.
I just got rid of a lot of books from my book shelf the other day. As I stood back and surveyed them I realized how very many books I had hoped would free my from my sinful self. There were books on how to make my marriage better, books on deliverance, books on taming the tongue, books on becoming more godly, books to help me understand the Bible more - because we all know if we know our Bible, we will not sin as much. (My God, just do an amazon search on Joyce Meyers. People have made their fortunes on sin management books.)
Then as I was listening to a podcast that Darin Hufford did the other day, (Super Spiritual Expectations) he blew me away with one statement. He said, "There are a lot of people who are wondering if they embrace this Grace message, that maybe, then, they will experience the freedom from sin that never came in their old religious life." He went on to say that the message of Grace is about a relationship - not about becoming sinless.
I realized that I had thought to myself, "Maybe if I understand Grace, understand the Father's heart for me and understand how to actually have a relationship with Him, maybe I will get a handle finally on my _____________." (fill in the sin of the moment) I was simply replacing the books on my shelf with the message of Grace in hopes that it would do for me what they left untouched.
But that is not what Grace is for. Grace was given, "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Grace was given in spite of our sin. Grace was given because we could not do it. It was not given so that we then would be victorious, it was given because we will never be victorious. He loves me IN MY SIN.
There is a fine line somewhere here that I don't want to cross. I'm really not sure where it is though. I feel like Paul who says, "so will we sin more just because of Grace - Heavens NO." I'm not advocating giving up and just diving into my sin, knowing that Grace has covered it. But it is a mind shift of monumental proportions for me.
The message of Grace is not for me to obtain so that I can finally get my act together. It is offered to me because I can't. It truly "is finished," and there is nothing I can add to this. And so today I find myself overwhelmed by the act of Love that brought this into my life.
(*by the way, I have never read the book shown above. Just thought it was a great picture for what I was talking about. It might be a wonderful book :)