Friday, January 25, 2019

Christ Will Give You Victory

This morning I did a very general confession by appointment to a very excellent diocesan priest a few towns over from me. After confession we talked for about an hour, and I had some very helpful insights that I wanted to share. None of this is novel, but even so, revealed to me in the right moment it all proved to be "a word in season" (Prov. 15:23). If you are waling through a dark cloud, perhaps this will help you.

I. Do we spend too much time picking bad fruit off of our tree rather than looking at the root and finding out why it is producing bad fruit to begin with? Confessing the same sins over and over again and beginning to doubt it will ever be different? It's good to recall that God's will for you is not to "manage" your sins; His will is to have total victory over them. Have you sunken into a place where you have given up hope that you will ever have victory over your sins and have begun to settle for just maintaining your current place—treading water while you try to manage your sins? This is not why Christ died for you. His death gives you the power you need to have total victory over your sins and that should be our goal and our hope.

II. We often use a language of "distance" when speaking about our spiritual lives. Saints are "closer" to God; sin puts us "farther" from Him. However, given that God is omnipresent, "not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27), we have to remember that this language of distance is a metaphor for something else—its a way of quantifying our likeness to him; those who are more transformed by grace are "closer" to God, those who resemble Him less are "further." But really we are only ever as far from God as we put ourselves. When we sin we can feel like God is very distant, like we are prodigals suffering in a distant land. But the truth is, there is a bit of a Wizard of Oz illusion; though we may feel distant, we can go home at any time if he just really will to. The distance is only as great as we think it is. All you need to do is turn your face towards home like the prodigal son and the father will run from the house to meet you where you are.

III. It's easy to reduce grace to merely a legal concept: an abstract state we are either in or out of. That certainly is part of it, but it's not the whole part. What is the point of being "in" grace? I have sometimes prioritized the mere fact of being technically, 'legally' in a state of grace while ignoring the purpose of what is supposed to happen while I am in that state. Grace is not merely an indicator of whether I am in a state of friendship with God or not; it is also a vital force from God whose purpose is to work in my life to transform me. That is to say, grace is not merely adjectival ("state of grace"), but it is a noun. It is a thing; it is like a power or energy that is the very life of God which is lavished on us in order to ennoble us and enable us to love God beyond what our natural limitations would permit. What's the point of being "in a state of grace" if I am not actualizing the growth that being in such a state is supposed to make possible? 

* * * * *

My friend, you can have victory over your sins. Begin by believing this, trusting Christ to grant you this triumph, and take things one day at a time.

Even if you feel apathetic or distant from God, whether from sin or just lethargy, remember you can go home if you only will to. The distance between yourself and God is only as great as you let it be.

Don't focus only on being in a state of grace, but once there, on letting grace change the state of your life. Grace is not merely a place to be in, but a vital power God gives us to transform our lives. Be aware of it's work in your life and rejoice in the small victories it wins.

Christ will give you victory.

3 comments:

Rob Frank said...

Christus Vincit!

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Boniface,

over the years you've made a few posts of different struggles, but you never disclose what they are. I appreciate the contrast from other bloggers who sometimes seem to pride themselves in their failures. But if you ever decide to let go, maybe some of your readers are in the same boat or have been, and can offer help. All I want to say is, it doesn't have to be a one-way street!

Boniface said...

^^Thank you my friend. I'll keep that in mind. I generally feel like there;s enough going on without burdening people with my private struggles.