The places grace empowers us
Thu May 23, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
‘Each next risk is the biggest one’: James MacDonald talks with Mark Driscoll
Wed May 22, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
Fraud or Sinner?
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6
I’ve been a fool.
In this season of deep pruning that God has me in, there have been multiple times that my sin has been ever before me. Like David, I recognize my transgressions. They have come in the form of disrespectful words, angry reactions, and hurtful behavior. I find myself, as Paul did, acknowledging the wretchedness of my soul regularly.
With the cold, hard evidence of my sin staring me and others in the face, my depravity is irrefutable. There is no question of its existence, no denying its destruction. The Bible supports this reality for not only me but every human who has ever lived—as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:10–11). Sin makes fools of us all.
Defend or Defer?
The battle really begins when, in the face of my iniquity and my accusers, I squirm with temptation to lie and defend. I feel my pulse quicken and my temperature rise when I am faced with the choice to humbly repent and boldly return to the throne of grace, or pridefully defend and fearfully predict the future.
Deference is humble submission and respect. Deferring to the voice of the Holy Spirit in times of temptation requires wisdom. Paul Tripp says accurately, “Wisdom is one of sin’s first casualties.” Fools defer to themselves. Wise children defer to their Father.
We do sin and we are foolish at times, but the snowballing effect of sin in our lives can be stopped when we defer to the already accomplished work of Christ and stop defending ourselves.
When I sin and the heat of God’s conviction and/or the judgment of man back me into a corner, I find myself asking: Have I been exposed as a fraud or a sinner?
A fraud is a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities.
When it comes to accomplishments or qualities that I can impress God with, I got nothin’. I am a fraud if I claim or pretend otherwise. For this reason, God sent Jesus to justify the unjustifiable. Satan, the ultimate deceiver, is quite effective at casting doubt on the authenticity of our salvation, urging us to unbelief in the definitive promises of God.
We wonder if our sin is more powerful than the grace of God, uncovering us as a fraud and not the “real thing.” The lies start to spin their infernal webs: A true, mature child of God would never act that way. Your sin makes you a fraud—there is no hope for you. You may hear these words echo from your enemy, your own heart, or from others around you.
The plan is to play upon your shame and smother you in it. The temptation is to let sin name you. Iniquity becomes your identity and you fear being found out a fraud.
Grace has no meaning in the vocabulary of the fraudulent. A fraud deceptively scrambles to erect reasons and excuses. Grace is the wrecking ball for all those flimsy constructions.
“O my Strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.” Psalm 59:17
Sinners who truly understand the gospel sing the praises of its message. There is no façade to maintain, no front to claim. Jesus is the real thing.
Grace, freely given by God, disarms the lie of the enemy and destroys fear that you be discovered a fraud. Grace is a fortress for the sinner to hide in and depend upon for rescue. Any person who has received the saving grace of Christ has a new identity. It is not possible for a redeemed child of God to be discovered a fraud.
Why is it, though, when we sin, we often go immediately to fearing that we will be found out for what we are: a sinner? It’s because we fear a sullied reputation more than we fear God.
We’ll Never Move beyond the Gospel
The Bible is clear on two categories of people: regenerate sinner and unregenerate sinner. The first is saved by grace and pardoned from their sin by the blood of Christ; the latter is left to the righteous and just judgment by a holy and perfect God who punishes sin. You can either gratefully embrace that Jesus took God’s wrath on the cross or you will face the full brunt of it personally.
But, all too often, especially if we have walked with Christ for any length of time, we subtly believe and even place ourselves and others in to a third, nonexistent category: Super Christian. This is the place where we, as godly and mature believers, have finally arrived and sin no more.
Foolishly, there are times we kinda think we’ve moved beyond Jesus’ gospel. We no longer believe we are sinners as much as we are saviors. As others take notice, they will worship our godliness as greatness. But, of course, we’ll give God the glory for making us so great.
Christian, you are no fraud. Reread Romans 7. God delights in you.
It can be subtle but it is insidious. Sin does not make one a fraud but a sinner. Lack of sin does not make one a super hero. Both are daily constrained by the grace of God for life and godliness.
When you sin and struggle with letting it name you, ask yourself:
1. Is that action or my identity in question? Our identity as children of God is not secured by our lack of sin but by Christ’s blood. The sin was foolish, but your identity is your foundation.
2. Am I convicted about something specific? Fraudulent guilt is coupled with a generalized “feeling of badness” and has no place in the heart of a sealed child of God. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin specifically and does not operate in vagueness.
3. Have I repented or done damage control? Turn from your sin in repentance. If you find yourself justifying your sin, you are acting like a fraud. You are trying to uphold yourself and saying that Christ’s justification isn’t enough.
4. Am I relying on God’s grace or man’s opinion to rescue me? Your sin may have consequences. Man may not forgive but God always does. Your foolishness, by God’s grace, will be transformed into wisdom if you ask him.
Christian, you are no fraud. Reread Romans 7. God delights in you; you delight in God’s truth in your inner being.
Your sin was foolish but God’s grace is ridiculously lavish and his mercy is not based on merit. Your sin only illuminates your ongoing need for dependence upon his grace to rescue, redeem, and restore you time and time again. You will never outgrow your need to be rescued. Till you meet him face to face, you are dependent upon his grace to keep you.
You will, by his grace, resemble your Rescuer more and more. Your sin is simply an opportunity to magnify and display Jesus’ restorative power in you.
“Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24–25