…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Recently, I’ve been in a class for college students at my church. For one of my friends in the class, a certain question seems to rise to the surface rather consistently. The question follows a line of thought from Romans 7 in which Paul talks about his struggle with sin, doing the evil that he doesn’t want to do. Why is it that we, as Christians, constantly struggle with sin even after we have come to Christ? That struggle persisted within Paul, and for us, it becomes a battle of the everyday. It wears us down and causes us to lose sight of Him.
It became a question that inhabited the back of my mind. It dwelled there, staying with me as I thought and read through Scripture. Then, a concept started making itself clear – one that seemed extremely obvious the more that I thought about it.
If, at the moment that we accepted Christ, we suddenly became free from our sinful, then we may completely forsake grace. Instead, we are left with our scars and the ability to make new ones. We oftentimes still feel the pain of past mistakes and reap the consequences of brand new mishaps. Should that disappear, though, we may consider our newfound ability to avoid sin as something that comes from our own ability. As the situation remains, we know that the state of grace persists regardless of our actions. We understand that grace exists because we push on toward the goal of becoming more like Christ, and we know that there are moments when we see the Holy Spirit working in us to make us more like Him.
Aside from keeping us humble, however, and demonstrating that His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:1-10), I believe that there is also another important reason we must find ourselves constantly struggling with sin.
Many have trouble coming to Christ for fear that they aren’t good enough. They look at the church and various members of the church and think that they could act or be like that person. Either their past is too dark, or their personality cannot sustain such an appearance as those “holy ones.” Now, while I would hope that most of us within the body of Christ understand the depth of our sin, I know that many struggle with judgment and considering ourselves better than others (rather than considering others better than ourselves). It is an easy trap to forsake humility and cause others to stumble as is. Think how much more difficult it would be should our sinful nature suddenly evaporate.
I am aware that if we were without sin, humility would no longer be a problem. That would immediately become natural, but from outside the body looking in, that would likely not be so obvious. That hurdle of “I’m not good enough to come” would likely get that much higher. Sometimes the fact that Christians are still a bunch of sinners becomes something to hold against the faith, but that’s only because we have the tendency to try and hide the fact. We cover up the scars with make-up and a show rather than understanding that our struggle with sin is meant to keep us humble and enable us to relate to one another in the fullness of what it means to be human – the struggle.
Christianity already arouses a fear of being judged within peoples’s minds, and it keeps them (and oftentimes us) from understanding what this faith means. If we were without our scars and the ability to make new ones, how much would this fear increase?