A few months ago I left the office at noon with plans for a productive few hours. I expected to saw down some small trees in the pasture, study a writing text, start edits, clean house, wash clothes, take out the garbage, and cook a real meal instead of reheat leftovers. Before I knew it, bad attitudes I hadn’t yet recognized surfaced and a battle ensued.
The dark night of my soul
I did very little of what I planned. One thing after another happened, some of it catastrophic, some my own fault, and some so disappointing I sat on the floor and wept like a baby. Self-examination followed and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
In the dark night of my soul I saw my own heart. The bleak vision brought even more tears. I faced my sin and bad attitudes. Horror over my pride, critical spirit, and sense of perfectionism flooded through me. God removed all of it once before but over time I allowed a seedling of sin to blossom into a vile, choking weed. Again.
I want all the wickedness gone. Permanently.
Are bad attitudes without action sin?
Are bad attitudes not manifested in significant actions still sin? Yes. Whether it’s an overt action or a carefully coddled thought, bad attitudes are sin. There’s nothing sweet, charming, or funny about it.
I want to be perfect even as my Father in heaven is perfect but, like most of us, I have a long way to go. The job of disciples includes quick repentance and progessive growth toward a Christ-like heart. None of us will be perfect this side of heaven, but we can be a good bit closer than we are right now. I know I can be.
I confessed my sin, repented, asked for forgiveness and God forgave me.
It was that simple but it didn’t seem like enough. I repented some more, wept some more, and apologized to the Lord over and over again. I wanted to “do” more but finally remembered an important truth. Jesus did everything needed to deal with my sin on the cross. My “come to Jesus” moment was soul-cleansing-hard but white-as-snow beautiful. They always are.
The next morning, I remembered my bad attitudes and the darkness in my heart from the day before. I didn’t feel forgiven. I felt far away. Snuggle me again, Shepherd of my heart, I prayed.
When I opened my Bible to John 1, the beautiful words washed over me like the balm of Gilead.
“For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 nasb
Read those lovely words again and ponder them for a moment.
Forgiveness isn’t about feelings.
The fact of forgiveness isn’t dependent upon our feelings. It comes from the mercy and grace of God. Because of His great mercy, He does not give us what we deserve. Instead, through grace, He gives us the forgiveness and cleansing we don’t deserve. And grace upon grace. He continues to give forgiveness every single time we need it.
The gift of demolished strongholds
Another passage spoke to me in my despair and filled me with hope.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare and not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4 nasb
God gave us a powerful weapon, strong enough to demolish even the strongholds and fortresses in our own hearts. The Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and our only offensive weapon, is more than enough.
The Word of God can demolish all the lies we’ve embraced, all the strongholds we’ve allowed the enemy to claim.
The truth of 2 Corinthians is only effective, however, if we know what it says and allow it to do its beautiful work in our hearts.
If we are tired of the load of sin we carry, there’s hope. We can do something about it today. Let us confess our sin and embrace the forgiveness and freedom only our loving, merciful, grace-filled Savior can give.
Allow faith to dictate feelings and bad attitudes to flee
We cannot allow our feelings to dictate our faith. Instead, faith should dictate feelings. If we believe what we say we believe about our Lord our default should be joy, hope, love, and peace. If not, there’s a problem.
We are loved, bought with a price, and washed white as snow. Let’s live clean, because we are.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
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