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Managing Your Sin Doesn’t Work

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above. —Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Someone who believes they are a “sinner saved by grace” tends to focus on sin management more than pursuing intimacy with God. Managing sin keeps us looking down in the dumps. We’re never quite able to see beyond the next mistake.

What a tiring way to live! Now, no one is saying that the saint in Christ is going to live a sinless life. (Actually, some people do say that, but that goes contrary to Scripture, too). What this means is that our identity is not that of a sinner.

Paul had an interesting take on the believer’s relationship with sin:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Here, Paul is affirming the sinfulness of his actions, never denying that it’s God’s grace and not his behavior that saved him. In passages like Philippians 3, Paul tells people to imitate him. (He wouldn’t tell them that if he was still the worst of sinners!) He’s acknowledging the reality of sin but wants his readers to understand that it’s rooted in their old self, residue from their past life and the flesh.

We are indeed prone to wander, as the old hymn says. Instead of seeing the Christian life as merely a struggle to manage sin, we can embrace the thrill of being a believer in spite of our sin.

Lord, by the power of Your spirit in me, focus my heart and my thoughts on Your perfection rather than on my imperfections. Consume my heart with Your purity and Your presence so that the reality of my sin would be drowned out by Your blazing light. Amen.

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