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 Originally published March 1, 2013

hamartiology

I admit it. I struggle against sin. A lot of sin. Often.

Sometimes it’s a small, easily won skirmish. Sometimes it’s a hard fought, bloody battle. Yesterday, God helped me take a hill.

For a couple of weeks, I’d been feeding on this sort of casserole of worry, doubt, fear, unbelief, distrust, and frustration with the Lord. I needed Him to act, and He wasn’t acting. Every time I tried to pray about the issues that were tempting me into this mélange of anxiety, I ended up feeling even more anxious.

So I quit praying about it. Smart and spiritually mature, huh?

“Lord, You know what all these issues are. Please, just handle it.”

From time to time, it can be helpful to pray like that. But not when you’re using it as a semi-spiritual cover for avoidance, which is what I was doing.

Yesterday, I finally heard the bugle sound the call to arms. I felt God pushing me toward the battle line. The urgency to pray through this mess was absolutely compelling.

So I laid it all out before God. Every last bit of it.

And as I did, conviction of sin rolled in.

Sometimes we think of conviction as a negative thing. It makes us feel bad. Guilty. Humiliated.

But conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit is really a good thing for the Christian. It gives us pinpoint accuracy and clarity on exactly how we’re offending God. It gets everything out in the open and brings things to a head so that we can repent, be made right with Him, and start fresh. None of us is so weak that we can’t deal with a little guilt if it pushes us up and over the wall of repentance to reconciliation. Buck up, soldier.

As I continued to pray, God began bringing all manner of applicable Scripture to my mind (this is how God speaks to us—through His written word). I remembered how God dealt with the ungrateful, complaining Israelites in the wilderness. I also remembered what David said in Psalm 103:

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,

I realized my sin was a double edged sword of commission and omission. It wasn’t just what I was doing—doubting and worrying—it was also what I wasn’t doing—being thankful and remembering how God had been faithful to me in the past.

convection_weather2It reminded me of the way wind is formed. Warm air rises into the atmosphere, and cold air rushes in to fill the void left by the warm air. Voids don’t last long in our spiritual lives. Something is always rushing in to fill them.

At the end of a long day of fighting, my doubt, fear, unbelief, worry, distrust, and frustration lay on the battlefield as bloody casualties, replaced by fresh, mighty warriors of faith, gratitude, love, and remembrance.

Sin. It’s the only battle you can win by surrendering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from
everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Psalm 103

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