“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Rom 6:6
Though at this point it might be somewhat cliché, at Antioch we use the language of “brokenness.” Though we have been declared righteous by God through redemption in Christ Jesus, sin remains a daily struggle. Simul Justus et Peccator– “Simultaneously sinner and saint” is both descriptive and explanative of our current condition. One day, Christ will finish the work he began in us, He will create a New Heaven and a New Earth and sin will be a thing of the past. But, until then, we recognize that our status of justified doesn’t always match our daily experience. In fact, most days we feel far from righteous.
Realizing this tension, I have stressed that it is OK to struggle, OK to mess up, and OK to be real. We reject the legalistic spirit of “self-righteousness” that dresses up our trials in Sunday’s best attire and feigns a smile. In short, we’re all broken. Therefore, it’s OK to be broken. But herein lies the danger. If we’re not careful, we can unintentionally celebrate our brokenness as if God is OK leaving us in that shape. Obedience becomes a curse and holy living is rejected as a legalistic antique of the past. But this swings the pendulum too far in the other direction. It effectively throws the baby out with the bath water.
God doesn’t accept us “just as we are.” He accepts us despite who we are. We are accepted only through the finished work of Christ. Though brokenness remains as a result of our depravity, God is never intent on leaving us in that state. If we are declared righteous in justification, we are conformed to the image of Christ in sanctification. This too is a work of the Spirit of God. Our brokenness becomes the very sphere of the Spirit’s life-transforming power. So, on the one hand, yes, we are broken- yes, we all struggle- yes, we constantly fail- and yes, we are still free from the condemnation of the law. But, on the other hand, God is at work in our brokenness, struggles, and failures molding us toward holiness and into his image. Therefore, we dare not celebrate the very thing that God is actively changing about us. So is it OK to be broken? Absolutely! It’s just not OK to stay that way. Will we fail? You know it! But struggle is never an excuse for unbridled sin. Will we struggle? You bet! But the trajectory of our life should be toward Christ.
This week you will feel the tension between your sin and the Spirit of God at work within you. As paradoxical as it might seem, pursuing Christlikeness is resting in the Gospel. Faith and obedience are not enemies. They are twin graces. So, yes, we’re all broken- But God is actively putting the pieces of our lives back together. That’s good news.