By Matt Capps
Have you ever carried the guilt of sin with you to a worship gathering on Sunday morning? I know I have. In those moments, my prayers feel hollow, and my singing becomes mechanical. And, as the pastor begins to explain and apply the biblical text, it’s difficult to receive because I find myself defensive and uneasy. All the while, God’s Spirit is gently and clearly revealing my need for repentance. This weekly experience that is meant to be life-giving can be a painful reminder of my sin.
My unrepentant heart can hinder my relationship with God; it can make me feel as though there is a divide between us—one that, in reality, no longer exists because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. This feeling of distance can creep up in any form of human relationship, making it easy to mistakenly ascribe it to my relationship with God.
Salvation is a gift of grace for sinners like you and me. We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. True salvation results in the ongoing process of sanctification. Throughout Scripture, God reminds us that it is His work to sanctify His people by His power. Our status before God is a work that He alone has achieved. Therefore, we are to live in accordance with the identity that He has already declared over us.
This is good news! God has set us apart and called us His own. Those who are in Christ Jesus are called a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that [we] may proclaim the praises of the one who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). And in response to God’s grace, forgiveness, and acceptance, God’s people are to heed this instruction: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 20:7). We are to commit ourselves to Him—heart, mind, body, and soul—and follow His ways, which are so much better than our own (Isaiah 55:8–9).
Consider again your worship of God. If we acknowledge that our entire lives are worship, as Paul reminds us in Romans, we must present ourselves as “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is [our] true act of worship” (Romans 12:1)—the daily submission and consecration of every area of our lives.
Victory has already been won with the empty tomb of Christ, but our daily battles can distract us from living in accordance with that victory. We must not forget who we are and who God has declared us to be in Christ. In those moments when we are tempted to give in to sin, we are to lean in to God’s power. By His Spirit, who helps us and counsels us, we are given the strength to turn toward Him.
Written by Matt Capps