I find it difficult to measure my own spiritual status and it seems, no matter how I try, that I am unqualified. I have followed Christ now for eight years and He has been good to me. Still, I am afraid my spiritual status can only be described as completely depraved. No matter how much I become like Christ, without Him I cannot even recognize sin and, sadly, there will probably always be times when I rely on myself instead of on Christ. It is undeniable just how real and good God is when, in moments of strength, I turn from Him and become weak; unable to gasp for air.
My spirit is tattered and torn because this world has been gnawing on me since the moment I was born, trying to turn me away or distract me from seeing the fact that I was in need of a savior and of a lord and it almost worked. I have, in my life, been a home to such a cynicism that I did not trust what was taught, especially what was taught by God’s Church because people failed to live according to what they preached. This cynicism still haunts me and drives me to look for the worst in every situation and to always look and listen for ill knowledge and apparent contradictions as people are doing and speaking. As I am sitting here, now, thinking about my own faith I am hard pressed to admit that this cynicism is proof that I do not have much. I have little faith in other people and, many times, I catch myself not trusting in God in the smallest details, but God has never failed to do what He has promised and the existence of this testimony is proof.
I will preach God’s sovereignty and His faithfulness without apology and with the upmost boldness while, at the same time, losing sight of those attributes. I feel as though I am the worst hypocrite of them all. I am, at times, the type of Christian that made me not want to be a Christian oh so long ago. This is not easy for me to admit or to even think about. I want to be a man after God’s own heart and I want others to see me as a man after God’s own heart, but so often I am a man after my own. How can a man move forward if he is running around in circles, chasing his own image? He cannot. God help me.
I know that to fear God is to respect and honor Him. While my wish is always to honor God, I feel as though I do not fear Him much of the time. I know a God who punishes entire nations, who created and has authority over the entire universe and who, at one point, flooded the entire earth. I worship a God who will be the presiding judge over each and every person who lived, lives and will live on this earth and I do not fear Him as I should. I approach God, many times, with too much boldness not offering enough praise and not recognizing that He is both the beginning and the end. I am but dust and it is through me, currently, that this world is cursed. I am without excuse. I am without hope. The good news is, even in my faithlessness, God is faithful.
It is God who restores my spirit. It is God who covers my shame and gives me joy. It is God who helps me to trust and to have faith in Him and in my fellow man. It is God who proves His own sovereignty and His own faithfulness. It is God who constantly and consistently convicts me so that I can even know His heart. It is God who restores my fear and trembling before Him and who legitimizes the praises that come from my filthy lips. It is God who restores my spirit and who entrusts me with faith. God thank you for choosing never to forsake me, even though I constantly fail you.
As I read through the scriptures, both old and new testaments, it seems to me that the ‘heroes of the faith’ we so often admire and look to for their spiritual example and their holiness were actually utter failures when it came to following God. Even Paul authorized the murdering of Christians in God’s name and describes his struggle against sin (the desires of the flesh) in Romans 7.
“Therefore, did what is good cause my death? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sins power. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with Gods law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.”
Thank You, God for being so willing to humble me so that I can see my own failures and Your faithfulness. Even though I fail, God receives glory by staying faithful and for creating in me a new law to wage war against the law of sin and against death itself. This brings me to the purpose of the faith that God has entrusted us with. My perception in the past, and perhaps it is simply the way that Christianity is promoted in an American context, has been that the only way to find truth about everything is to trust in a true God. Though this is true, I am not sure God cares much for our knowledge unless it serves as worship to Him. The purpose of the faith, then, is only that we know God (though knowing God is profitable for all knowledge). What we learn about a fallen world almost has no consequence in terms of eternity, especially when God will be, and is currently, delivering His creation from its fallen state. That type of knowledge, though it helps us to relate to those around us, does not benefit us much in the relationship that God has with us. Our relationship with God and our spirituality does not concern to a great degree our gaining a fallen knowledge. This is my struggle because I am addicted to knowledge so much so that I fail to look to things in the scope of eternity. I fail to look for a pure knowledge that will carry on into eternity. Though I do not think this minimizes a need for practices like apologetics (which will only be needed in our fallen state), I do think that knowing who God is presents us with a much greater knowledge and will enable us not only to live better in this fallen world, but will actually benefit us (because it benefits God’s glory) in the scope of eternity. Furthermore, gaining a greater knowledge of God enables even our knowledge in this fallen context to be more valuable and to actually bring glory to God (a glory that we will share in).
The status, then, that I have claimed as spiritual or have viewed as spiritual has actually been a status within a fallen context. It has been religion when what God desires is a more pure knowledge which leads to a more pure practice and a greater wisdom. All of this brings a greater glory to God. If I ever desire to be closer to God and to be more beneficial to God’s Kingdom, I myself must rise above what we call religion and I must know God for myself. This is only possible by God’s hand. After all, I am bound by the law of sin and death. I am completely depraved and only God can create in me a law of grace which leads to life, and He has. Else, I am confident, I would not have these current convictions.
God, thank you for saving me.
 Romans 7:13-25 (HCSB)