“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I talk and preach a lot about the Gospel. By the Gospel, I’m referring to the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the historical and theological reality that Jesus lived, died as a sacrifice for sins on the cross and rose from the dead, overcoming death and providing eternal life for all who put their faith in what He did. My faith is unapologetically Gospel-centric, in that not only do I believe that our eternal salvation depends on our faith in the Gospel, but that our world view and the way in which we live our lives are deeply affected by what we believe about the Gospel.
I hope you have put your faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you truly have, the Holy Spirit will begin and continue to change the way you live your life and respond to its challenges. One way to assess the role of the Gospel in your life is to gauge how you react to your own sin.
Bob Thune and Will Walker, authors of The Gospel Centered Life, have designed a short diagnostic tool to help us see how we deal with sin. I found it very revealing. Determine which of these responses (may well be more than one) best describes your response to sin:
I find it difficult to receive feedback about weaknesses or sin. When confronted, my tendency is to explain things away, talk about my successes, or justify my decisions. As a result, people are hesitant to approach me and I rarely have conversations about difficult things in my life.
I strive to keep up appearances and maintain a respectable image. My behavior, to some degree, is driven by what I think others think of me. I also do not like to think reflectively about my life. As a result, not many people know the real me. (I may not even know the real me.)
I tend to conceal as much as I can about my life, especially the “bad stuff.” This is different from faking, in that faking is about impressing. Hiding is more about shame. I don’t think people will accept or love the real me.
I tend to think (and talk) more highly of myself than I ought. I make things (good and bad) out to be much bigger than they are (usually to get attention). As a result, things often get more attention than they deserve and have a way of making me stressed or anxious.
I am quick to blame others for sin or circumstances. I have a difficult time “owning” my contributions to sin or conflict. There is an element of pride that assumes it’s not my fault and/or an element of fear of rejection if it is my fault.
I tend to give little weight to sin or circumstances in my life, as if they are “normal” or “not that bad.” As a result, things often don’t get the attention they deserve. They have a way of mounting to the point of being overwhelming.
Which of these best describes you? None? Are you sure you’re not just “downplaying” or in denial? Each of these responses represents an attempt to justify yourself, rather than let Jesus justify you through the Gospel. When you minimize your sin, you try to justify yourself or find your worth in something other than the Gospel, and that means you end up minimizing Jesus. In doing so, you have begun to find ways to build worth and justify yourself apart from Christ. It causes you to live your life for someone or something else and relegate Jesus to the sidelines. Minimizing Jesus always ends in disappointment, keeps His Gospel grace from freeing you to be and do what He created you for, and denies you the relief you need from sin and despair.
I want you to know, it is never too late to turn to Jesus. Yes, you may already be a Christian and have faith in the Gospel, but the Gospel is not merely for “getting saved,” it is for all of life. Right now, and every day, you and I must bring our attempts to minimize Jesus and maximize something else to the cross and receive Christ’s forgiveness and grace to maximize the impact of the Gospel in our lives. Every one of us needs to and denying it just means you need to take another look at the list. Don’t wait and waste your short life. Give Jesus the place in your heart He already holds in the universe. His grace is more than sufficient.