By Kevin Howell
As a young Christian, I struggled with sin. I understood it was part of the process of growing and maturing in God, and though I was no longer a sinner, I would still have to deal with sin for the rest of my life. In fact, I was told that in some way, every day, we all sin. So each night, before I went to bed, I reflected on my day to figure out how and when I sinned, because for sure, I did at some point.
I was sin-conscious, and more than bad habits, human depravity, my own lust, or temptations in the world, that’s why I sinned. Because sin and repentance was on my mind, daily.
There’s a theory in sports, whether shooting a basketball or a pistol, bowling, throwing a baseball or football, that whatever you focus on, that’s where the ball will go. Likewise, when my mind was focused on sin, avoiding sin, and repenting of sin, sin remained in my consciousness. So in spite of efforts to avoid it, I’d always come back to the same sins. Why? Because I was focused on them. I was trying to overcome sin by denying my flesh and building my spirit, based on principles we hear within Christian culture. However, I’ve found that to be ineffective and unbiblical.
I don’t have to try to overcome sin because sin has already been overcome.
My efforts were futile trying to win a battle I was incapable of winning. That’s why Jesus fought it for us already. Grace has taught me to accept the finished work of Christ. Do I still sin? Of course. But I’m no longer looking for it. I don’t try to figure out if and how I sinned every day. The Spirit of God will bring conviction to an area I need to address. I decided to live in grace instead of live in fear of sin.
Grace has become a controversial topic lately. As some people are leery of a hyper-grace message that is accepting of sin. But a true understanding of grace motivates us to live righteously.
“Amazing Grace,” the classic hymn by John Newton, has a verse that illustrates the power of grace:
“T’was grace that taught my heart to fear,
and grace my fears relieved”
Grace teaches us the fear and reverence of God. It gives us understanding of His power, sovereignty, authority, and dominion. It reminds me that I exist, breath, and am not consumed because of grace. Yet at the same time, that same grace relieves me of the fear of sin and its consequences. I don’t have to fear judgment; I don’t have to constantly repent to be accepted. Grace has taken away those fears.
I no longer struggle with sin. Not because I’m perfect, or because I don’t care about how I live. I’ve taken my focus off the negative and put it on the positive. That’s why I’m moving toward grace.
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