Resolved: 15. Why We Don't Behave

Why We Don't Behave

Resolution #15

Resolved, to never accept my sin as a simple failure to behave, but to discover and confess the true state of my heart before God; humbly accepting His grace in repentance.

More than just a failure to behave.

Sin is not what we do on the surface. It’s a product of what’s going on below. Look at Adam & Eve. God didn’t eject them from Eden because they ate some fruit. It wasn’t like the consumption of fruit was somehow offensive to God’s delicate sensibilities.  [Gen 3:1-24]

The fruit was not the issue.

The issue was that Satan told our original parents that the fruit would make them like God. In their hearts, they were convinced that they didn’t need to follow God’s rules. They thought they knew better. The action of eating the fruit was simply an outpouring of their hearts.

The true state of our hearts.

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 ESV

God is much more concerned about the condition of our hearts than our external behavior. Instead of looking at what we did, we need to understand where it came from. Let’s look at a hypothetical example.

Imagine me cussing out a waiter in a restaurant. (You’ll see this a lot from the church crowd at Sunday brunch.) I verbally abused this poor guy and sinned against him. It’s extremely unlikely that the waiter did something to earn my terrible behavior. But, for whatever reason, I’ve got some anger in my heart here that caused my shameful outburst.

I don’t really have a cussing issue, but an anger issue.

If I take this a step deeper, I might find that my anger issue is stemming from an offense that someone had committed against me earlier that week. As it turns out, I don’t have a cussing or an anger problem. It seems that my issue is with forgiveness. In fact…

…what I really have is a Gospel problem.

Grace enabled repentance.

When we realize that sin isn’t simply an issue of behavior, we understand that we need something infinitely more effective than behavior modification. What we really need is a heart change. All of the counseling and therapy in the world can try to help us with this, but the only One with the power to change our hearts is God.

In my example above, I learned that I have a Gospel problem. Therefore, my deepest prayer would be that God would come in and wreck me; that He would reveal the truth of the Gospel in an amazing, heart-changing way. I would pray for the faith to believe that Jesus truly bore the full penalty for my all my sins (past, present, and future) and that He has given me His righteousness in exchange; an act of world changing grace.

As I understand and let that truth permeate my inner-most being, the Biblical command to forgive, love, and serve my neighbor, in spite of his offenses against me, becomes the natural desire of my heart. The anger within is gradually replaced by an overwhelming abundance of grace, truth, and love.

The product of that process? I stop cussing out waiters.

How and When?

Here’s where I look at ways to practically apply this resolution to my life.

  1. I can never be satisfied with a simplistic understanding of how or why I’ve failed. As I encounter instances of sin in my day, I need to work them back to the heart issue in play.
  2. When others fall short, my goal can’t be to highlight their failure, but to help them understand the same heart issue and to help them understand the full assurance of their victory at the cross of Jesus Christ.

This post is part of the Resolved series: a collection of 21 personal resolutions that I’m writing/preaching to myself. If you’d like to keep up with this series, feel free to click one of the links below and subscribe to my RSS feed.


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