The Lord brought to mind a conversation I had with an elderly woman several years ago. I was talking about my frustration with everyone’s, including my own, battle with sin. She looked innocently at me and said, “What kind of sin do you think I have? I don’t do anything or go anywhere.” I was horrified and could only be silent at her inability to recognize that she too was sinful.
I remember reading of a pastor who during his time with God said much the same thing to the Lord. The Lord then showed him his sinful heart which put this broken-hearted pastor flat on his face on his office floor for hours. When he rose from the floor he had an entirely different perspective on his life and his ministry. He had seen the sins hiding in his own thoughts, words and deeds, sins that he had been comfortable with when he compared them with the visible sins of others.
I’m afraid it is easy to interpret God’s grace of salvation as the end rather than the beginning of a holy life free of sin. 2 Tim. 1:9 says that God “…has saved us and called us to a holy life…” Heb. 10:14 says, “…by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” I Peter 1:15-16 says, “But just as he who called you is holy so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
It seems to me that these scriptures, taken together, tell us that God has given us the opportunity to be holy beginning at salvation, but that to attain complete holiness like God will take a journey of “being made holy.” I don’t think that this holiness is made up of do’s and don’ts or rules. But I do think that the pilgrimage toward holiness requires a constant discomfort with the sins we so often slide back into. Remember, sin infiltrates the thought life long before it is seen in words and deeds. I am always amazed at the thoughts that get stirred up in me when I’d like to think of myself as wholly sold out to God. I’d like to think I’m a Jesus girl filled only with the goodness of God, but I’m often surprised at the thoughts that come up in me when a car cuts me off or I’m in a hurry and someone is taking forever checking out in the grocery line. I may say the right things (then I may not) or I might do all the right things (or I may not), but I’m afraid I have to admit that I’m far from being a holy, unselfish girl. (See Paul’s confession in Romans 7:14-20)
When I come to the confession time in taking communion I sometimes have forgotten those times when I’ve not been so holy, but, since I do live in fear of God really showing me the hidden blackness of my heart, I confess that I am not thinking or doing as the Lord would have me. I ask for Him to cleanse my heart of all unrighteousness.
In my daily life I also try to keep my confessions up to date, by confessing my sins quickly at the Holy Spirit’s nudge (I John 1:9), and by asking for and receiving God’s unlimited grace as soon as possible. I try not to get too comfortable with what I perceive as my being a pretty good Christian. I try to remember we have “all sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23) even me, and that holiness is a journey. I try to be ever vigilant to look at my own “plank in my eye,” knowing that holiness is a journey that will only end in victory in God’s throne room. Until then I am just “a sinner saved by grace”, trying to stay in touch with my propensity toward sin and asking for God’s forgiveness and His grace to do better in the future.