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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Navel-Gazing

In light of yesterday's post Resurgence has the rest of the story . . .

Dustin Neeley

Acts 29 Pastor - Louisville, Kentucky

I just realized I have a new spiritual problem.

Truth be told, I have had it for a while, but the light bulb just finally came on in my soul that illuminated what has been going on. I can get so caught up in trying to figure out why I sinned that I forget to repent of my sin.

Getting to the Root

As a “gospel-centrality” guy who believes that all true change begins at the heart level, I consider it a goal not just to stop doing something evil, but to try to figure out why I was doing that evil in the first place. My hope in doing so is to be led to as specific of an application of the gospel as possible, and to cut off the snake’s head and not just shorten his tail.

Theologically speaking, I believe this effort to deal with the root causes of our sin (Matthew 5:29) is a good practice modeled by Jesus, Paul, Keller, the Tripp brothers, and all of us who follow in their footsteps. However, practically speaking, even a good tool in the hands of sinners like us can do significant damage.

Gazing at Your Navel Instead of Jesus

I have found that in an effort to get to the root of my sin, I can become so navel-gazing that I cease to be cross-focused. I have found that I can get so wrapped up in the complexities and nuances of my sin and ‘how deep the rabbit-hole goes’ that I forget to repent of the fact that it was my fault that I climbed into the rabbit-hole in the first place.
I have also found, perhaps worst of all, that I can become so despairing or despondent because of my sin that I cease to be dependent upon the only One who can save me from that sin—Jesus.

Who Will Deliver Us?

And in those dark moments, thankfully, I am confronted afresh with the good news of the gospel: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25) Most of us reading this can agree that we are wretched. But who or what is to save us from this wretchedness? Our self-evaluative introspection? Our repentance?

No. Neither is strong enough.

In Christ Alone

But Jesus is strong enough. And worthy enough. And holy enough. Only Jesus can save us from our sins and ourselves! In the midst of Paul’s own spiritual angst, this is the good news of the gospel that Paul himself is retelling and praising God for. In the midst of our own angst, we would be wise to follow suit.

So when you sin, repent—first! Then evaluate and seek to get to the root of what is going on. And when you find yourself confronted with your latest spiritual problem, whether it is like mine or not, ask yourself, “What good news am I retelling? Mine or Jesus’?”

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