the ugly-beautiful

I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus when I was fourteen. For me, my life looked pretty much the same before and after that decision. I was already a goody-two-shoes. I’d grown up in church and knew what was expected of a Christian. I crossed t’s and dotted i’s and walked the straight line like it was my job.  In that time didn’t think about or struggle with sin very much.

If anything, in the years since I’ve started more closely following Jesus, the struggle against sin has become deeper, darker, and more difficult.

As I’ve walked more closely with the Lord, I’ve been confronted more and more with the depth of my sin. How it lurks and tempts and fights for control. How it is ugly and it is hard to fight – and how sometimes I don’t even want to fight it. I hate the sinful heart in me so much. I want to look like Christ but honestly a lot of the time I look nothing like Him. And the enemy is quick to overwhelm me with guilt over all of these things.

BUT God is so good. The weight of my sin and the darkness of the world only press me deeper into Christ. Deeper into the freedom from guilt and sin that He provides. Deeper into the character of God. Deeper into His grace and goodness and surpassing worth.

The beautiful thing is that because I see how ugly my heart really is, I can truly know the grace of God – in an overwhelmingly experiential way… because I know how desperately I need it.

It’s the most incredible juxtaposition – the fact that the ugliness of the ugly makes the beautiful thing that much more beautiful.

Because it is in the depth of my sin that I can truly see in stark contrast that God is bigger, and He that is in me is far greater than anything in this world. That He is good and that He is victorious over the sin in me. It’s in the ugliness of my sin that I’ve seen a beauty in the Lord’s grace that I wouldn’t have seen apart from the recognition of the disgusting-ness of my sin.

It is in this beautifully heartbreaking understanding that I have truly, truly found joy in the work of Christ:

“My sin – oh the bliss of this glorious thought! – my sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

I can find overwhelming joy in the fact that all of it – in its full, terrible, ugly entirety – has been and is continually taken off my shoulders and born by Christ Himself. That means my feelings of lingering guilt over paid-for sins are not only unnecessary, but they are offensive to the God who has lovingly dealt with them.

Friends, receive this grace.

There is no benefit to dwelling on sin in shame. He has cleansed us.

Our Father does not look for moral competency – for crossed t’s and dotted i’s and straight-line walking. Instead He takes the sin and the shame, He lovingly deals with them on the cross, and He promises to walk with us as we seek to follow Him and know Him more.

This grace – that not only drew you once and for all into His saving arms…but this grace that daily keeps you in His loving embrace – is available to you. Brothers and sisters, live in freedom from guilt over paid-for sins and live in continual praise to the Lord for this grace.

His grace. It saves and sustains. It redeems and it reminds. It is forever and it’s also right now. In every moment, over and over and over. It is available in abundance.

Grace.

 

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