"I am aware at all times that I am despicable." I said this the other day to a fellow sojourner on the path of sanctification. We were talking about the ongoing effects of the sinful heart in our lives.
It's not that God is reminding me that I am a horrible sinner, or that He is condemning me all day long. I am not relentlessly bashing myself and denying the cross-work that has been done in me, but I am always aware of the sin potential in my heart. Especially when I look at who I still am after all these years of knowing and understanding Romans 6.
The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Romans 5:20-6:2 (NASB)
What Paul is saying to us here is that where sin "super-abounded" grace abounds beyond measure, grace abounds exceedingly, grace overflows. There is no sin that can overcome God's grace in the life of a believer in Christ. However, Paul also reminds us that we cannot continue to live as slaves to sin any more. When we live as slaves to sin, we are living as though we believe sin still has power over us.
This is why I find myself discouraged at times. Even though I know, understand, and believe the message of grace and the cross, it's is not a magic bullet against a sinful and wicked heart. I still have a choice to make in each and every moment I live.
It is not the Lord who reminds me of my despicable-ness, for that would be completely contrary to His character. God does not deal with me that way. If you are wondering how I can be so certain of this I will ask you to look at Romans 8.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (NASB)
This passage alongside Ephesians 1 and 2 tell me that I am different, I have been changed. Even though I am not yes all that I will be, I am no longer what I once was. My standing before God has been changed from one of hostility to one of fellowship (Eph. 2:14-16). Because I have been changed God does not deal with me as a Believer as He deals with those who are unregenerate.
If anything, this understanding is what leads me to be discouraged as I realize I still love my sin too much... and I don't have to.
Why would a Believer choose to obey the sinful desires of the heart? To choose to live in slavery to sin and long to go back to Egypt? Do you remember how the Hebrews wanted so badly to return to Egypt? Egypt (slavery) was where they knew what they knew. There was a familiar sense about their lives there. There was a routine, there was relative safety, they had food, homes, and water. In those moments of longing for Egypt, it didn't matter that what they knew was actually slavery; it was just what they knew. Even in their slavery, they longed for those comforts. We are no different.