today’s actually been really great. went to class and everything, not too much homework, and had lunch in my room while reading the shining by stephen king. it was nine bucks at the bookstore and i’ve never read it before so i was like, why not? it’s really creepy, much more so than the movie. but it’s good; for the first time i’m making time to read for leisure, instead of just watching netflix or something. it’s really nice. also went to the rec center to run for a bit.
eric and i are going through the cross centered life by c. j. mahaney together, and today i was reading the chapter about legalism. it’s not something i would necessarily say that i struggle with if someone asked me randomly; i know that i’m saved solely by the grace of God alone, and that there is nothing i can do to change that or weaken it somehow. i didn’t earn salvation (if anything, i’ve earned just the opposite), it was given freely. however, something a really struggled with at the beginning of the year (less so now, but it’s definitely something God’s still working me through) was feeling like i needed to keep up God’s favor. in my mind i wasn’t trying to earn it, i was just trying to keep it at the level it was… there was somehow a very distinct difference to me. i felt that every time i sinned, i had to start over, that God was extremely annoyed with me.
to be completely honest, it’s not something that’s easy to convey or explain. i felt very heavy; for a time there was no joy in my relationship with the Lord, or if there was, it was overshadowed by the fear (back then i would have called it a knowledge or certainty) that it wouldn’t last, that i would fall back into the same ruts and sin again, and God would get annyoed with me all over again. for me personally, it was a struggle with a desire to be in God’s word. i was severely torn. i thought that since i was a christian, i should want to read the Bible, to be in it daily and revel in God’s love letter. but i didn’t… i still don’t all the time. but this particular struggle, combined with my legalistic attitude, was weighing me down in such a way that i wasn’t enjoying God or my relationship with Him.
slowly, over the course of the year (has it really been that long??), the Lord has been faithful in revealing to me that He loves me always, forever. that though i sin, He isn’t keeping a tally and proclaiming a winner at the end of all things. that when i stumble, He is right behind me, not to be annoyed or frustrated, but to help me back onto my feet. that spending time with Him doesn’t mean that i have to spend an hour in the Word and an hour journaling for it to "count." that if i’m thinking about it that way, i’m missing the point. i’m missing Him.
anyway. the chapter talked about the difference between justification, which is being made right in God’s eyes, and sanctification, which is becoming more like Jesus. justification is instant; it happens the moment we are saved. there’s a quote in the book by a guy named william plumber that puts it well: "the weakest believer and the strongest saint are alike equally justified." sanctification, however, begins the moment of salvation and doesn’t end until the moment we die, for we will never be perfect until we’re in heaven or Jesus comes again. another quote, this one from the author: "justification is immediate and complete upon conversion. you will never be more justified than you are the first moment you trust in the Person and finished work of Christ. sanctification is a process. you will be more sanctified as you continue on grace-motivated obedience."
it’s been refreshing and freeing to be reminded of these truths. i can do nothing but fall upon the grace and mercy of God. and He is happy to provide. doesn’t make sense to me sometimes. but i’ll totally take it.