The Power of the Gospel
One of the beautiful things about the Christian faith is how deeply Christ’s love for us has been displayed by His death and resurrection. The basic gospel message is one of incredible weight. In it, we realize that we have absolutely no chance to save ourselves. We see God’s requirements for how we are to live in order to please God, and we fall utterly short. We cannot rely on ourselves to please an infinitely Holy God.
When we first truly hear the gospel message for the first time, with the Spirit opening the eyes of our hearts, the weight of our sins fall away. We realize that those sins were imputed to the perfect sacrificial lamb, and his perfect life was imputed to us. We are thereby reconciled to the infinite Holy Father, with all of our past and future failings wiped away.
However, because we do still have the remnants of sin in us in this life, and will until we die, we often forget the truths of the Gospel. Maybe not in their entirety, but we lose the weight of it. We get stuck in the day-to-day. We slip back into old frames of mind, trying to rely on our own law-keeping. Not consciously maybe, but in our hearts, we still try to earn God’s approval.
By God’s grace, as we study the Scriptures and know God better and better, we will know the truth more deeply, relying less and less on ourselves, and more on Christ. In times of quiet and peace, that is a great comfort. In times of sinful failings and temptations, all we want is to be rid of our sin completely. I know that is true for me. I hate my sin, and yet it is always there. We know the truth of the Gospel in our minds, but our hearts still desire the things of the flesh. When reprimanding His Disciples for falling asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ warns them in Matthew 26 to “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” While this verse isn’t specifically talking about sexual temptation, the warning is a good one to heed.
Because of this weakness, it is easy to regress, and we often get back into mind-sets of salvation-earning. We see our sins, and focus too much on trying to keep from doing them. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be trying – it is of great importance to follow God’s law. However, if we aren’t focusing on Christ throughout our trials, we will be relying on ourselves. This leads, ultimately, to failure and shame. God turns from a loving savior to a harsh taskmaster. We try to follow the law out of fear of wrath, rather than love for Him.
This is how most men I’ve talked to view their sexual sins. We get caught up in the resisting the sin, and forget about why we are eternally free from it. The power of the Gospel isn’t just theory; it truly does change us. We aren’t perfected instantaneously, so there are setbacks and failings, and there will be in the future. But I know that even my future failings have already been paid for.
These truths extend to all sins in our lives. But for some of us, the sexual sins have been the largest sins in our lives for years. I know for me, until more recently, the truth of the gospel never truly extended into the realm of my sexual sins (I’m speaking in human terms, not God’s terms). Those sins had been with me too long, and were too large for the Gospel to overcome. The fact that Christ’s sacrifice extends to all areas of our lives, and not just the “small” ones, is crucial to our growth in our knowledge of and relationship with Him. The deeper our knowledge of the Gospel becomes, the more we can truly trust in Him for our salvation. Instead of obeying out of fear for God’s wrath, we can increasingly obey in response to His love.