13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24 For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
I wrestle with understanding the depth of law and grace at work within me. I am so incredibly grateful for the Holy Spirit that convicts me of my sin, fills my conscience with a voice that says “this is not OK, you need to examine your motives and behavior”. It is those thoughts and feelings that draw me into a deeper reliance on Christ as I struggle to fully put to death the old man and rise again anew in Christ.
We will always be sinners, we will always fall short. Grace is God’s to give, not ours to earn. Yet verses such as this in Romans cut deeply as a two-edged sword. It is a stark reminder, as it should have been to the self-righteous leaders in Jesus’ day to never think of yourself more than you are.
As someone who enjoys blogging, transparently sharing the convictions and mercy that God presses on me each day, I feel the weight of my sin even greater.
Is it not hypocrisy to declare the importance of righteousness in Christ and then avoid eye contact with a homeless person? Or burn a copy of a music CD for a friend, or load software on a second computer that isn’t licensed? Or go in to work late, take a long break, and leave early. (not that I do these things if my boss is reading this)
The little things we do, the secret sins we carry around are done in plain view of a merciful yet righteous Judge.
My struggles for so many years were wrapped in the feelings that I’m alone and if anybody knew what I did they would reject me. That longing for wanting to be accepted, cared about, known and loved runs deep.
We were created for relationships, and much of sins pleasure comes in the form of trying to fill a God-sized whole in our heart. Whether it is through feeding ego and pride in the pursuit of power, materialism, success (externals) or addictions, cutting, isolation or risky behaviors (internals), they all are an attempt to obtain what only God can provide; purpose, self worth, peace, rest, comfort, joy, meaning, salvation.
The good news is, none of us are alone in our suffering with sin.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
And there is hope
1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Romans is definitely a convicting book that reminds me on a profound level that I am nothing more than a man, broken and being healed. My personal struggle to live righteously is a minute-by-minute affair sometimes, thank God for the cross!
Pride is a killer that destroys humility and closes the door on grace. And shame is pride’s first cousin, born of that same perfectionist mentality that says, I should be perfect because I see myself as perfect.
Shame is a killer in my own life. I have spent hours crying to God over my wretched sin, to the point where I clearly felt Him say deep in my heart… I no longer desire your tears, but instead just say thank you.
The NLT Study Bible that I have describes one of the mega-themes in Romans as Salvation and says this about it:
“It is good news that God saves us from our sin. But in order to enter into a wonderful new relationship with God we must believe that Jesus died for us and that he forgives ALL our sin.”
He forgives all our sins, all. We must surrender our pride and shame, accept that we are fallen and then rejoice in the incredible gift of the cross. In that we live free in Him and step free from the bondage of self.
Father God you know my heart. I humbly submit my pride and shame to you, help me to know more completely what it is to be your disciple, to live a disciplined life that heeds the calling of the Holy Spirit within to love more completely myself and those around me. Let me not focus on how short I fall, but on how high You soar. Fill us this day Lord with a profound understanding of just how magnificent Your grace and mercy are and let not our pride or shame overwhelm the cross. Thank you Jesus who You are, what You have done, and what is to come.