I am glad I am loved by God but sometimes the reality of my wretched heart just depresses me. I think I know some good theology. I know that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to me, that active righteousness which he had has been reckoned, counted, or imputed to me. I know that the blood of Jesus has atoned for me, that passive righteousness in which he suffered and died for me, and the payment of my debt has been imputed to me. I didn't and couldn't earn any of this for myself, I came to believe in Jesus, and he became the propitiation for my sin.
I still don't like the reality of my sinfulness. Sometimes I have sinned so that I feel ashamed, and shame is what seems to wear on me, and I feel worthless and embarrassed by my sin. Sometimes I just feel whipped and beaten down with the reality of evil in my heart, almost unable to stop the dark feelings and thoughts that swirl through my brain. Self-pity, anger, bitterness, feelings of revenge, and the realization that it is all pride.
I don't feel shame this week, for which I am grateful. I am so thankful for the times that when I did feel shame I was able to believe that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin. I have been blessed in those moments when I took hold of the great liberation of Romans 8:1 and realized I was not condemned, but rather I was safe in Christ, forgiven, loved, and taken in. Sometimes believing the Gospel feels like I just took a shower, and that is one great feeling.
Some folks have not liked it when I have confessed or preached that I believe I am still a sinner, still sinful. They have felt I was not taking the high road and claiming the reality of my sainthood, my union with Christ. I guess they don't feel as rotten as I do at times, when the pattern of my thinking and my heart are too suffocating with the reality of how evil I want to be, could be, and would be if it were not for the restraining work of the Holy Spirit.
If you knew me you wouldn't accuse me of "worm theology" or putting myself down, I am a little too positive and confident for that. I don't grovel in my self loathing. Maybe I should though because I do loathe what my heart is capable of , I do loathe the voice of Satan and his explanation of my reality and my eager desire to believe that my unhappiness is everyone else's fault. It is hard for me to accept Romans 7 as anything else than the struggle of all believers, and not the quest to become one, since every once in a while I realize what a wretched man I am. Maybe the problem is not seeing it clearly and often enough.
My theology tells me I am not going to make up for this wretchedness on my own. It also tells me it will not be by will power that I "crucify my flesh." I don't think I can pay for my own sins, nor deliver myself from them. I am glad it is Holy Week, and I think this year it is coming just in time for me to see some light on the subject. That's what usually comes, the light from the Word of God, the light of life in the face of Christ, and the lifting of the gloom about my mess.
God sends his light, and in his light I see light. Remembering, seeing things new, maybe with fresh insights I get to believe again that he loves me. I am glad Holy Week begins, and the drama unfolds, and through the heartbreak of a betrayed Jesus, a crucified Savior, a risen and glorified Christ, I realize once again that Jesus is Lord. He is Lord over my darkness, conqueror of my rebellion, deliverer from my weakness, helper of my unbelief. I hear him cry, "it is finished." I say with the congregation, "he is risen indeed." And I know I have a friend greater than my fallen-ness, greater than my wicked heart, stronger than my flesh, and the giver of every grace I need to not only understand an accomplished holiness though his Holy work, but his grace powered working of holiness in a soul that bears stains and scars but resumes again the smile of victory.
Praise God for the cross, praise God for the sanctifying Holy Spirit, praise God for the coming redemption of our bodies and the safe at home holiness of heaven.