The Depths of Depravity

June 2, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Posted in God's Love, Security and Assurance, Theology | 2 Comments

        It seems to me that there are three levels of sinfulness we must deal with in our lives.  First there is the matter of not doing what God says (or not doing what we believe God is leading us to do, or doing what God says not to do).  This is the most obvious matter of sin, and we are all aware of it.  This is what most Christians think of when we talk about sin.  But sin goes much much deeper than that.  On a second level, there are those times when we don’t even want to do what we know is right.  “I didn’t obey God and I didn’t want to obey God.”  It’s not uncommon for Christians to recognize this level of sin in their lives, because every Christian has been there and done that.  At times we confess to God our sinful attitudes; so we admit that we did wrong because we wanted to do wrong.

        However, there is even a third level of sin where we don’t want to change the desire to do wrong.  “I sinned; I sinned because I wanted to sin; I don’t want to give up the desire to sin; and given the same circumstances I would sin again, even knowing what I know now!  The last two statements are examples of level three.  This level is ugly.  When we recognize it, we get a picture of the depths of our depravity that can utterly scare us.  At this level, we hold on to self tenaciously, even when we see how ugly we are, we hold on.  Trouble is that these depth levels can go on at infinitum: “I don’t even want to want to change!”  I’ve seen this level in my own life in the fact that I treasure my reputation more than God’s glory, so I hold on while saying “no” when God leads in a direction I don’t want to go and I will not go.

        The good news is that Jesus died for all my sin – that, in Christ, God has graciously forgiven all my sin.  It is easy for me to apply that truth to the first level of sin and often to the second.  But I really struggle to apply that truth to the third level, because at that level I know I deserve condemnation, and I’m willing to listen to the voices that condemn me.  But even the ugliest depths of my depravity are already forgiven in Christ!

        This is probably, in part, what Paul was getting at when he said, “I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man.”  (Romans 7:21 – 8:3)

        God change me at  the deepest level, so that I want to want to do what’s right.  Gently draw me to the place of willingness, even in the depths of my being.  Thank you that all of my sin is forgiven in Christ, even the ugly sins of the third and deeper levels.

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  1. This fills me with much needed hope!

    I sometimes misunderstand the concept of “The New Creature”. When I read that “genuine” Christians will make progress in the area of living a life conformed Christ’s holiness, or godliness during their life time on the Earth I think in terms of the Nazarene teaching referred to as “Entire Sanctification”…I think some might also call it “Sinless Perfection”. I know that I definitely have not achieved that state, so I then become very afraid.

    However the fact that you, Pastor Glenn, a believer can still at times struggle in the way that you described in this post, but still confidently say that you are already forgiven even if you should briefly lapse into that bad mindset some time in the future of your earthly life here…..that is very comforting to me!

    Blessings,
    Theresa

  2. Our hope is in what God says, not in how we feel about ourselves. The confidence I portray here is God’s truth, not necessarily what I think or feel at the time of the struggle. May our minds be filled with His Word and not our own depraved thoughts!


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