Don’t Fear Looking At Your Sin

We live in a culture that tells us to love ourselves. Self-esteem is, according to almost everybody, an essential virtue — one that we must teach our children as soon as we possibly can. Even in evangelical circles, people frown upon those who speak too often about our wretchedness.

But can’t self-esteem frequently keep Christians from examining themselves periodically to see if we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Can it cause us to think of ourselves more highly than we should (Romans 12:3)?

You and I definitely should ask ourselves these questions when we find ourselves committing the same sin habitually. Children of God at some point start to resemble the Father’s holiness (1 Peter 1:14-21, 1 John 3:4-10). Sadly, many people who claim to be Christians do persist in unrepentant sin, often rationalizing their rebellion and sometimes even believing that God approves of what they do. When we don’t see evidence of genuine repentance in our lives — or at least grief over our sin — we need to ask ourselves if we have really been born again.

I don’t especially like asking myself hard questions. As a matter of fact, I pretty much avoided them for the first three decades of my Christian life. I’d point to the day I received the Lord and/or the various ministries I did as my reason for assurance of salvation. I also took forgiveness for granted sometimes, using God’s grace as a way to ignore sinful behavior.

The only reason I doubt that I was a false convert during those years is that I remembered coming to Jesus with a deep awareness that His blood alone atoned for my sin. Regretfully, I hadn’t really grasped the idea that my claim to salvation continues to depend exclusively on what He has done for me.

Self-examination still needs to be done. When sin patterns persist, we dare not dismiss them lightly. Nor should we adjust our theology to accommodate those patterns. If we think we can violate God’s holy standards simply because we can blithely appeal to a faulty understanding of His grace, we prove nothing more than our determination to live in resolute disobedience to Him.

Thankfully, self-examination for the true Christian always causes us to both sorrow that we’ve once again sinned against the thrice holy God and rejoice in His work of salvation.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. ~~Romans 7:21-25 (ESV)

Self-examination may indeed force us to confront our sin. But when we truly know the Lord, that same self-examination leads us to rejoice in the wonderful grace that Jesus provided on the cross. Praise the Lord for His grace!

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