Paul

Beyond the Logic of Sin and Insecurity by Michael Nichols

The movement of the Holy Spirit is a funny thing. He's not just our heart rate during worship, nor is He just the force behind an armada of supernatural events, nor is He simply your conscience when your own sense of reasoning fails, nor is He just the lifeline that God throws to us when we're drowning in the world's system. He is all of these things and more. What I'm about to explain is what happens when we don't latch onto Him when He moves.

Like anyone, whether it's in my own mind, radiating through my fingertips, or lashing out through my tongue, I have, and, as certainly as the night will come, will deal with sin. Will every thought be corrupt? No. Will every thought be pure? No. Thankfully, I have a Heavenly Father who trains me daily in the way I should go despite me, and who reprimands me clearly yet lovingly when I need it.

I've said so before, but I'll say it again: I micromanage myself sometimes, especially with spirituality and sin. I'm hypersensitive and hypercritical of what I do and how I feel and what I think and believe, often times to my detriment. That having been said, it's easy to justify the sin, the distance, the lack of direction, the lack of passion -- really, without wanting to admit it, the lack of Him, in an attempt to quell hypersensitivity with insensitivity.

The fact about me -- really all of us -- is that I desperately, utterly need Him, but I don't always run to Him. I tend to make excuses, to justify what I sometimes do so that I won't feel as guilty, but the cover up that we impose upon ourselves is worse than whatever sins and insecurities we hide. We only start to make excuses when we run out of reasons, to rationalize when we've done the irrational, to justify that which is unjust, to fabricate false answers for the ones we refuse to humble ourselves to seek out... and after all of those simulations of salvation fall to pieces, we are left to either accept the truth or scream in its face.

When you get past the reasons, the justifications, the excuses, and finally dismantle a sin, and you can finally see it for what it is, something will happen. You'll ask yourself, "Why do I do these things?" to which you will quickly reply, "I don't really know." But since when was the purpose of sin to be understood? Sin exists for one reason: to kill you secretively. When all of the other "reasons" we ascribe to it fall away, it's okay to say, "I don't know," because that's the moment you realize you've fallen and need help to rise to your feet again.

Don't panic. You can rise to your feet again. To do that, we must latch on to God's hand. Sin's purpose may be to kill you, but your purpose is to kill sin, and the victory is already won. We often define our chances in life as the sum of our sins and insecurities, but these things are small, and they collapse eventually -- the Lord doesn't. Don't tell God how big your chances are; tell your chances how big your God is.

"For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." -- Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:9-10 NIV)

Forgiveness -- Part 1 by Michael Nichols

Four posts ago, I said some stuff about the power of Christ's forgiveness, promising to go somewhere with that, so given that I'd prefer to be a man who follows through when he speaks, let's begin. :) I'm sure I've touched on the topic before, but I've never really delved into it much. Well, I guess it reflects upon how much I think about it on the day-to-day. It's not like I can really ever forget forgiveness. My biggest issue is probably the active clinging to it.

If you ever have the chance or interest, read Romans 6. Matter of fact, read the entire letter. It's basically all about the concept of forgiveness and how it ties in through the ages. Paul goes as far back as showing how forgiveness was promised both to Israel and to the Gentiles. He also breaks down the interaction between sin, the law, and grace (which we can call "forgiveness" for the purposes of this post).

Synopsis:

  • CHAPTER 1: the fall of man to his own lusts
  • CHAPTER 2: believers who judge each other for their failures, and the introduction of law
  • CHAPTER 3: the introduction of righteousness through faith
  • CHAPTER 4: the example of Abraham's righteousness through faith
  • CHAPTER 5: peace, and new life through Christ opposing death through Adam
  • CHAPTER 6: the beginning of the grace-versus-sin conflict

I'll stop there because that's where the problems start to come, where Paul begins challenging the Romans through their way of thinking. He begins to give a clear description of how exactly it is that grace works, what that means for sin, and goes on about it for several chapters.

Before I end this post, though, let me set the stage for the next one. So far, Paul has reiterated to the Romans what they already knew about the fall of man to sin, using that to call out some people that the Romans were dealing with at the time, people who were being judgmental about the same sins they themselves were committing (probably not the whole of the community, but anyway). It's from there that he shows them what to do about it. He goes through the way that the law was introduced with the intent of it being for the heart, but explains how we tend to think of it as something we hide behind, using it as a shell to hide our evil nature behind, and that this nature is universal. We have all been corrupted by selfish ambitions. Through faith, though, we are drawn back to Him. It's nothing to gloat about because it doesn't automatically make us righteous, but it counts for something in God's eyes. Faith is the thing that keeps us hanging onto Him. Paul explains how Abraham was given a chance demonstrate it by offering his son, the one God promised. His faith that God would not make him give up his son, and his faithfulness to come to the brink of the offering, prepared to do whatever God asked, was counted as righteousness, and God sent an angel to stop the sacrifice before it was completed -- I'm sure Abraham was grateful. It's by this same sort of faith that the power of sin and death is broken in us, as though Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection rippled forward through time to break them.

Sounds great, right?

Simple enough, right?

Right.

But it can be hard to wrap one's head around it -- I really mean it can be hard for me to wrap my head around it, especially given the fact that I am human, just like every other human, and I sin and have my issues just as every other human. Sometimes, we can fall short in our understanding, and sometimes, we can try to take advantage of grace in a bad way, not that this is possible, but that isn't really the point. There are so many facets to grace that we often fall short of understanding, accepting, and giving, I think that's what Paul might have been getting at when he spoke with the Romans, and maybe that's what God is trying to impress on me all these centuries later.

But that was just the first less-than-half of the letter. There's so much more to it. I'm getting to it, but I'm gonna break this up into several blog posts, so if you're interested, stay tuned. I think it's pretty cool, and worth the read -- Romans, I mean. :P