"I mean this sort of thing. I say my prayers, I read a book of devotion, I prepare for, or receive, the Sacrament. But while I do these things, there is, so to speak, a voice inside me that urges caution. It tells me to be careful, to keep my head, not to go too far, not to burn my boats. I come into the presence of God with a great fear lest anything should happen to me within that presence which will prove too intolerably inconvenient when I have come out again into my 'ordinary' life. I don't want to be carried away into any resolution which I shall afterwards regret. For I know I shall be feeling quite different after breakfast; I don't want anything to happen to me at the altar which will run up too big a bill to pay then.....Even repentance of past acts will have to be paid for. By repenting, one acknowledges them as sins - therefore not to be repeated. Better leave that issue undecided." - C.S. Lewis, from "A Slip of the Tongue" (The Weight of Glory)
We have been working through a study Sunday evenings at Grace that has focused the past several weeks on the authority and inerrancy of the Word of God. Over and over, I have been struck by one terrifying thought: If this is God's Word, if it is really true, then everything about me and about my world is going to have to change, to be confronted by and conformed to what I find in Scripture. If the Bible is true, nothing in my life stays the same.
Scripture - God's Word - becomes the axis on which everything turns, the standard by which every thought, every action is measured. Where I disagree with Scripture, or where I think God's Word makes too big a deal of something I consider insignificant, or where the Bible speaks into issues that I'd rather not address right now - in those places, it is not the Word of God that must change, yield, conform to my preferences and opinions. It is I who must be changed.
And sometimes, I just don't want to change.
This conflict leads me to a distressing mental dilemma. If I claim to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and then I deliberately and flagrantly disregard the claims it makes on my life, then I don't really believe what I profess. How can I know what I really believe, deep down in my heart? Well, the old saying goes, "Actions speak louder than words." My actions, as opposed to what I say with my mouth, reveal what I truly believe in my heart. My continued disobedience, my denial of God's claims on my life - all of my life - reveal that I believe something very different from what I profess: that God is not who He says He is, or that the Bible is not really His Word, or that God just doesn't mean what He says. Either I am lying - or God is lying.
Folks, it's NOT God.
But I argue, "My sin is no big deal. It's not that bad. I'm living under grace, right?, so it's covered already anyway. God understands."
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have
not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - 1 John
My little sin is no big deal? It is an outrageous offense to the holy Creator of the Universe, and because of my "little" sin, I justly deserve God's condemnation and wrath. Believing anything else is, in essence, calling God a liar.
Thankfully, God is merciful. He sent Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus bore God's condemnation and wrath for me. He was the propitiation for my sins (1 John 2:2).
How can I view such love and not be heart-broken over my sin? How can I possibly continue with "business as usual"? How can I put off "deciding the issue", as Lewis would put it?
How could I ever go "too far" at the altar of God?
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Light the fire, and help me burn the boats.
3 months ago