Imagine a file cabinet.
The top drawer is jam-packed with files all labeled with a particular sin problem. The file folders are filled with sheets of paper with applicable verses.
It’s where you go. Why you memorize Scripture.
I am struggling with this and I go find the matching solution. Bitterness? Eph. 4:31-32. Pride? James 4:5-7. Lack of contentment? I Tim. 6:6-7. Worry? Phil. 4:6-7 Lust? Matthew 5:27-28.
So here we go. Up to the file cabinet. I’m having trouble with pride; God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. That’s right! I don’t want God to resist me… I am so sorry for this sin of pride, Lord. I reject it and want to live humbly before you.
I go to the cabinet a lot. Work hard at adding more papers to fill the folders. Occasionally have to make a new folder for a new problem rearing an ugly head.
But something still isn’t quite right. Something is missing.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The gospel is not just for salvation; it is for all of life”?
I don’t think I had until several years ago. When I began to hear it I thought, Yes! That sounds good. That’s right. It connected with me, but I really didn’t understand. There was nothing to attach it to in my brain. No way to fill it out or comprehend.
But thank God, little by little I am learning.
Salvation is not just forgiveness of sins, entrance to heaven, reconciliation to God, and a means of escaping hell; it is eternal life. A life that starts right at the moment of conversion. The gospel is the foundation for everything that will happen in this new life.
While it would be great to have a neat little set of rules to govern this new life by; there’s one little problem. I am still a rebel. Sin will remain in my body until it dies. A list of do’s and don’ts isn’t going to cut it.
If random commandments is all I have to keep me in line, there will be constant defeat and struggle.
Before you think I’m against rules and commandments, let me quickly say that I am all for rules and so thankful for the many clear commands to new covenant believers in the New Testament.
But when it comes to dealing with my sin, the cross is the only answer. The solitary solution, before and after conversion.
You see, I’ve discovered the bottom drawer of the cabinet. It only has one file, and that file is marked “Gospel.”
When I approach my sin with a problem/solution mentality, I’m leaving out the gospel.
So I failed to be kind to my neighbor? coveted something that wasn’t mine? invested time in a meaningless pursuit? became bitter at someone who slandered me? lied to make myself look better?
All this, yes. But more importantly, I failed to do what I was created to do. Instead of representing my Creator God in His goodness and glory, I took on the nature of His enemy representing his rebellion against God’s authority and my desire to rule myself in the way that pleases me.
I must see every sin as rebellion against God and allegiance to myself.
I must remember that Christ’s amazing sacrifice redeemed me from my sin and placed me in a position to once again glorify and fellowship with my Maker.
When I begin at the file marked “gospel” I see my sin for what it really is. Looking at the cross brings repentance in a way that nothing else can. From there, what a joy it is to see the good and wise teachings from Scripture on how to live this new life. To learn how a follower of Christ is to walk in this now-unfriendly and uncomfortable environment called the world.
What a wonderful comfort and challenge are the death and resurrection of Christ to those who believe in Him. We remember who we were, what we have been made, and what is our eternal hope.
This daily struggle of sin is not just a meaningless fight where only scattered weapons can be used in our defense. Rather it is a war that has been singularly conquered with a death blow that was promised and delivered.
We do find all of Scripture to be proftable as we are corrected and instructed in righteousness. But we use it with the big picture in mind.
Knowing the truth of that bottom file drawer causes us to hungrily search the Scriptures to find more of this amazing life we have been given. To know the Savior in every way we can; to long to be more like Him, hating our sin and fighting it to the death at all costs.
It’s taken me days before of trying to fight sin, trying to convict myself with all the “right” passages, praying for forgiveness… all this only to realize that never once had I pondered the gospel during that time. I had completely forgotten what is crucial. Once again I was wrapped up in the religion of self-effort towards my sin, desperately needing the cross.
I wish I could say that this was a one-and-done lesson, but it hasn’t been. Still I find myself running to the file cabinet searching frantically through the top folders as I try to fight my sin, completely forgetting that one crucial file below. But in grace God’s Holy Spirit reminds me of the gospel. And little by little I’m learning to take the burdens of sin to the cross and lay them down.