“–a despair of self-salvation, a despair of washing away our own sin, despair of obtaining any merit of your own by which you can become acceptable in the sight of God…That is a blessed kind of despair; but in reference to any other sort of despair…I cannot say anything that is good.” -Charles Spurgeon
I’m currently in my room, cleaning it, preparing to move into my new apartment, into a new chapter of life. And of course, as I always do, I got caught up reading old journals. Since I’ve graduated college, a lot has changed in me. The old Blake has been broken down, and the newer, or rather the more real Blake has emerged. It has come from self-reflection, and the time and space to slow down enough to understand what kind of things I actually tell myself on a regular basis.
Through this, a lie that I have taken as truth for far too long has reemerged: I think I can save myself. I think I can be good enough to please everyone around me, including God. Yet, every time I get alone with the Lord for a long period of time, the fiery accusations come, and I realize for one brief moment that I can never be good enough on my own. I say a brief moment because as soon as I realize this, my first reaction is to break out of that stillness and silence and jump right back into action so I can silence those inner voices.
This has mainly happened all through college, which is ironic because I thought all through college I was being successful at rooting this lie out. At every turn in my spiritual walk I have just found that the lie has infected me in a much deeper way than I ever imagined.
This summer I have decided to finally stop trying to shove all those accusations down with more action. I have begun to accept them. It’s crazy to think how I have not believed the gospel in such a practical way. I have missed the whole point! I have been so busy doing religious things that I have forgotten why I serve the Lord in the first place!
As I have accept every accusation, huge fear has overcome me, and still overcomes me, because all of these accusations about me are true. There is no possible way I can be perfect before God. I am a sinner. I have hurt others. I have failed at obeying Him. And all my works are like filthy rags before Him. As the quote above says, I have once again, despaired at saving myself.
As I see all these accusations and I know they are true, and I feel as if I’m falling into a chasm of judgement, I remember that I can throw myself upon the blood of Jesus. I remember that He has already paid for my sins. Honestly I think I have gone for far too long callous to the truth of that reality on my life. And it is a fight sometimes to believe the gospel. The words of the Bible are so powerful, are so potent…can the God of the universe really be this good? His mercies are really new every morning? The Son of God has placed His perfection on me? Seeing how grievous my sin is, I really do have to fight to believe it.
I thought my worth was in what I did, but it’s actually in who I am.
As I have realized once again just how good the gospel is, that Jesus has taken the wrath I deserve, that He has paid my debt in full, my joy over the gospel and over Jesus has exploded in a totally new way! THIS IS INCREDIBLE! THIS IS THE GREATEST NEWS THE WORLD HAS EVER HEARD! We don’t have to fear death, hell, and judgement!
This summer, these verses have resonated with me in a way they never have before:
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 1 John 3:1-2
19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 1 John 3:19-23
To some of you, this may sound so simple, but to me in this season the gospel is once again incredibly profound. You may be wondering how I could have gone so long not getting the point. Well, 1) I have learned that we all live in self-deceptions, and 2) I would say that all of my religious action has been encouraged by the church. People in our culture praise action, and especially in the church, if we all learn to say the right words and shift into religious autopilot, we can easily get by without ever really challenging ourselves with these simple truths. Everyone else thought I was Ok, and so did I.
However I would say that I tried to avoid people who could potentially blow my cover. I avoided conversations with people who would deal with my heart, who would deal with my personal spiritual health. But thank the Lord that He has placed those people in my life (shout out to Deanna ;).
Furthermore I am learning more and more everyday that other people struggle with the same thing I do and have had the exact same experience, and that is freeing. The more I read the more I see that throughout the ages men and women have struggled to find their identity in who Jesus says they are because of what He has done and not in their religious works or how “good” they can be. I decided to randomly write this out 1) because I know some of you probably struggle with this same self-deception and 2) because it’s easy to hide behind who we want the world to think we are. None of our lives are perfect, none of us believe in God perfectly, and we are all works in progress.
So, let us enter the blessed kind of despair; despair of ever being enough on our own! Isn’t it a glorious thing knowing that we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God?
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 7:24-25-Romans 8:1