It's pretty easy to notice the contradictions within oneself. One minute, spiritual, the next minute worldly.... one minute at prayer, the next full of bitterness and criticism... one minute convicted by my sin, the next proud as if I had never sinned. It seems that this goes backwards and forwards all the time. I notice that even on my best days this to-and-fro is powerfully at work. It can be very disheartening - at the moment when I think I'm having a spiritual 'breakthrough' I'm still battling with the most basic of sins. What do we learn from this?
1. Sin is real and powerful and deep within us. It does not rule...yet I must be very realistic about myself and who I am. My self-image needs to be adjusted accordingly.
2. God must allow this contradiction to persist because it is the only way to inculcate true humility in us. Nothing humbles me like my sin and failure to live up to what I believe. God remarkably uses my sin as a means of sanctification!
3. This contradiction makes me cling to the cross even more. Those times I'm tempted to live by my good character, the illusion can easily be shattered by yet another falling short. Then I am forced to realize that only grace will do!
4. The contradiction makes me rely upon Jesus rather than my willpower to deal with my sin. I remember that my contradictions are too great to deal with myself.