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Are you uncomfortable in sin? Are you at war with sin?


Or are you growing complacent and comfortable in your sin?


I’ve been thinking about such things lately, thinking in circles and not articulating the arguments to myself well. But here’s what Will Metzger has to say (emphasis added):







When we sin it is to be expected that our assurance of salvation will be weakened. God is keeping us from complacency and warning us not to play with sin. God, in mercy, will not allow children of his to be comfortable in sin. He makes us restless, even to the point of questioning our salvation, so that we may not presume on his favor but, instead, relish his grace. Often we recognize our salvation not by victory over sin but by the warfare that is still going on within us. – Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People


Can you imagine if we were comfortable in our sin? What would separate us and our attitude toward sin from the rest of the world’s attitude toward sin, who flees the light and loves darkness?


I agree with Metzger, and would also add that we shouldn’t be suprised when we are distressed by our sinning instead of being flippant about it. Being in distress in itself is a mark of our salvation, and a means by which God is pruning us and leading us to depend upon Him even greater still.


So how does our differying theologies within Christianity affect how we view this process? Its oversimplifying things to only represent 3 views, but the most distinct 3 views that come to mind are a Roman Catholic view, a traditional Arminian view, and a traditional Calvinist view.


A Roman Catholic view of justification; holding that we are not declared justified until the close of our lives and cannot attain assurance of salvation in this life in any normal fashion- would do little to comfort me as I wrestled with my sin. What’s the solution within this camp, performing confession and penance? It’s hard to imagine that bringing much comfort, or being restoring me spiritually back to delighting in God’s presence. I imagine some in this camp would argue that believing that righteousness is needed on our part will effectively prevent us from being complacent in sin, but my main complaint with this idea is that it unavoidable is adding our own merit to Christ’s and in effect denying its sufficiency.


An Arminian view of salvation; that I am covered by grace but able to fall away, with my assurance resting at least partially upon myself (its unavoidable to say this) – doesn’t do much more to comfort the sinner wrestling with their weight of sin. To those within this camp, our war with sin is a war that we can, in fact- lose! Again, some within this camp might echo the RCC view that believing this way will prevent complacency and laxity toward sinning, but the issue of justification is at stake. It would be unavoidable to admit that a human’s actions, and consequently his merit, are nessesary to give the cross its power to save and sustain. Some are willing to live with this. I am not.


But in the Calvinist’s view however, believing that it is by God’s immutable decree that we have been ushered into a state of Grace and are held there by His faithfulness alone and not our own- we can be tormented by our sin and yet still revel in the Glory of Christ.


How? Well,since we believe it is God’s soveriengty and faithfulness and that sustains us- as we sink deeper and deeper into our own depravity, we cannot help but to see God’s face shine even brighter upon us as He lavishes His mercy upon our miserable estate. Our hope lies not in the slightest upon ourselves, or our merit, so in the incorrigibleness of our sin we can actually see the increasingly graciousness of grace, and it is like a fresh drink to our thirsty souls. We return to the throne of Grace refreshed, but not frazzled. Broken, but not destroyed. Grateful, but humbled by our great need and his all-suffiency in saving us to the uttermost.


“Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” -Hebrews 7:25


Last week at work a co-worker who knows I’m a Christian asked me: “what do you do when things stress you out, what do you think about??”

I paused for a few seconds and replied “I remind myself that everything that happens to me God already knew would happen from eternity and wanted it to happen for some reason.”

Whew. I was partially surprised at my answer.  2-3 years ago I think I might have mumbled something about “God not letting things happen to His children that they can’t handle, so I can have faith I can persevere through it.” And there would be nothing blasphemous about saying that, but I realize now that would have reeked of self-meritorious congratulation. I mean, sure I can persevere through things; we all can. But it hasn’t cracked through my skull until lately (I guess) that I can claim no merit on my own behalf for this perseverance.

You see, this line of thinking would have us believe our faith should actually lie in our OWN ability to persevere through trials, because after all…. God puts a cap on how much he lets me handle. He does his part, I do mine, and therefore His “Godness” is intact while I can still pat myself on the back for persevering. But those two  ideas are opposed to each other. Either God is all-powerful and rules every inch of his creation and thus even when I persevere through trials I can only thank God for the mercy he has granted by pulling me through it, or I can continue in my sinful self-congratulatory merit thinking I accomplished perseverance by my own power. In the process of this I would be mentally dethroning the very God that has grants me grace. Even worse, such a statement presumes that I even deserve His mercy, which erodes the very nature of what mercy is- escaping what I actually deserve as a sinner.

Its interesting how many times justification is mentioned in the bible it is instrinsically linked to sanctification. You can distinguish between the two, but you can never separate them. The sovereign grace of God does not ransom us from our punishment, and spiritually raise from our dead state (Eph. 2), and then leave us on our own to persevere through life’s trials and suffering by our own grit and determination. Rather, the same grace that works in us to produce repentance and works from formerly corrupt creatures is the same all-consuming grace that aids us in our need. There is nothing passive about it. Maybe thats why John Newton called it “Amazing”.