The Law and Grace. Day thirty-one...
The reverend's wife comes into the house with a box from the clothing store. “What!” he says, “Another dress!”
“I didn't want to buy this dress,” she says. “The devil made me buy this dress!”
Years ago, comedian Flip Wilson popularized the term “the devil made me do it” in his comedy routines.
Wilson gave us a humorous illustration of how we all feel when we do something we want to do, but don't want to do—all at the same time.
I can package sin in two very different ways.
I can see sin as something I want to do, but someone or something is stopping me from doing it. Or I can see sin as something I don't want to do, but no one or nothing is stopping me from doing it. Of course, I can go from one extreme to the other in a split second—or make any stop in between.
When I see sin as something I want to do, but someone or something is stopping me, I am in a state of rebellion.
Even if I don't act it out externally—internally, I am rebelling against authority. And if the authority at the time happens to be God, then I am rebelling against God.
Rebellion is a very serious issue with God. Rebellion gives God nothing to work with. Under the old covenant, God usually destroyed those who rebelled. While this might seem cruel, think about what was at stake.
Rebellion was like a dread communicable disease with no cure. If those with the disease (of rebellion) had been allowed to mingle with the entire population, it wouldn't have taken long for all of God's people to be wiped out.
I live in God's grace and He is not going to destroy me when I want what I want, rather than what He wants.
But my rebellion opens the door to a thief who will gladly destroy me—who comes but to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10).
When I'm on the side of sin that struggles with flat‐out rebellion against God, my rebellion against Him always has its own destruction built in.
But when I'm on the side of sin that seemingly controls me against my will, I have another very different problem.
Paul describes this dilemma in Romans chapter 7.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. (Romans 7:15–21 NKJV)
In this case, I want what God wants, but I can't seem to do what He wants. I don't want to rebel against what God wants, but I can't seem to help myself. This is a very different attitude than one of deliberate rebellion.
I'm not going to spend much time on the sin that is associated with rebellion—mainly because if you spent very much of your time rebelling against God you certainly wouldn't be spending any time studying with me.
My focus is on the sin that seems to control us against our will. If you're not sure what that looks like, the classical example is addiction to anything destructive—and not just drugs and alcohol.
This is where God's grace makes all things possible.
God's grace is not effective where it's not welcome—such as with those who are in rebellion.
But His grace is transformational where He is welcome.
Have a good day,