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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Simul Justus et Peccator (at the same time, Justified and a Sinner): The Glory of God in a State of Love and Trust

"It doesn't get better once you've seen the light; you wake to find that the fight has just begun." - Derek Webb

Saint and Sinner

It's funny what you can learn about yourself in 24 hours when given the right circumstances. For me, Friday afternoon was the right circumstance. I discovered that in spite of all that I've learned about love and relationships (in the general, as well as particular sense of the terms), there can be a serious disconnect between what I say and what I do. I took my current status and situation in this particular relationship for granted, greatly disregarding the need for trust and understanding. Needless to say, I hurt her deeply. If I had to describe it (without going into great detail for the sake of the other person's anonymity), it was the equivalent of waving a loaded gun in someone's face who was still healing from a gunshot wound. In short, I'm an idiot. We have spent some time getting to know one another better, which makes my actions at that point in time all the more condemnable - I should have known better. So the big question is: Knowing what I know, why did I do what I did?! The song above helps to answer that question - "A saint and a sinner is what I am"!

From Hubris to Humility

When one has been in Christ a while, it's easy to become complacent and forget that the peace that we find in Christ is only the beginning of the war. The moment that we forget this, we open ourselves up for attack. We begin to think that the smoothness and ease by which things may be happening in our lives and relationships is due to our choices and our initiative. Nothing could be further from the truth. We begin not only to take for granted the gifts of God by grace through faith, but the very Giver of grace himself. We take lightly that idea of sanctification being a process and begin to see it as a package deal. We get it all twisted around; we may be saved at once, but the sanctification takes time - a lifetime to be exact. None of us will ever be completely free of our sin nature this side of glory. We must remember that every temptation and fire trial that we come out of is only by the grace of God. The same goes for the other side of the coin; every act of hard Providence that we go through is wrought by the grace of God as well. It is through these moments that we learn what God truly desires as he softens our hearts and conforms our will to His own. There is no way that a relationship between two flawed, fallen, and sinful individuals can work apart from God's grace and a realization of the atoning work of Christ that was already done for them (no matter how "spiritual" they may be). After all, if it didn't work for Adam and Eve (given their set-up), how do we honestly expect to fair in our own endeavors?

Revelation and Repentance

I'm actually thankful for these "growing pains" in our relationship that have manifested early on. I have learned not to begrudge God's sovereignty—these things always happen for a reason. This, by no means, excuses my behavior. This isn't the last time that I'll mess up, that much I can promise, and I'm sure she'll have her moments as well. We've had our "disagreements", but I can honestly say I felt this one as much as she did, if not more. However, through this hard lesson, God has been gracious enough to show me where I need growth--Love. Come what may in this relationship (or any other), I will need to be reminded of the fact that I'm not perfect and neither is the other person, yet I still must love accordingly. It is only by grace and grace alone that she’s in my life to begin with and I should treat and cherish her like gift of God she has been to me; for putting up with me.

So the next big question is, "what happened after the fallout?"

Well, after I came out of "idiot mode" and began to contemplate her anger toward what I had done, I asked for her forgiveness for "losing my damned mind", as she put it; some things just aren't appropriate -- I know that now. I also had asked for God's forgiveness as well. I actually did that on the way back to her room before I asked her, and that he would keep me safe while I did it. Contrary to popular belief, she is a lot more gracious and mature in her anger than initially perceived...even more so than myself, I must admit.

God is good...even when I'm not. I pray that he continues to grant me grace and strength to overcome the feelings of guilt, shame and doubt that can be a hindrance in the pursuit of learning how to love, as well as being loved in return; may he continue to heal her hurt and anger towards me as well. I care about her intensely and would hate to lose her companionship behind a momentary lapse of discretion.

Give me the strength in my actions to match my heart, Lord. Amen.

I'm adding this last song because...well, it just needs to be here. If she ever she's this, she'll know why.


For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within meSo I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. - Romans 7: 14-25 ESV

"Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly...Pray boldly--you too are a mighty sinner." - Martin Luther

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 ESV

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” - C.S. Lewis

“Love is doing what will enthrall the beloved with the greatest and longest joy. What will enthrall the beloved this way is the glory of God. Love means doing all we can, at whatever cost to ourselves, to help people be enthralled with the glory of God. When they are, they are satisfied and God is glorified. Therefore loving people and glorifying God are one.” - John Piper

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. - Philipians 1:6 ESV

If we are faithless, he remains faithful--for he cannot deny himself. - 2 Timothy 2:13 ESV

“Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” - C.S. Lewis

Soli Deo Gloria,

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