2 Samuel 12:7. Nathan said to David, “You are the man!
Every one of us reading this struggles to admit and confront our own sin. How much of what we do every day – work, school, hobbies, play, entertainment – are actually selfish ways to never deal with our own selfish ways? Even doing very good things, “Christian” things, can be a way to avoid true self-awareness.
The truth is that denial is the default of our hearts. King David was no different. Even when he had committed the most horrific sins (rape and murder) he was unable to face himself honestly. So Nathan the prophet came and told David a story about a wealthy man who had stolen another man’s only precious lamb and killed it. David was outraged at this man’s sin and condemned him to die.
2 Samuel 12:5. Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die,
But then came Nathan’s haunting words: You are the man.
The indwelling life of Christ will not allow us to live in denial. The great work of the Spirit of Christ, like the work of Nathan the prophet, is to reveal to us over and over again the remaining indwelling sin, selfishness, and pride that rule our self-life. Our “flesh.” That force inside us all (yes, even Christians) that pulls us back to self-centeredness, the world, the law, and to sin.
Denying that this sin is still in us is the biggest obstacle to the reception of God’s grace. The only way to grow in Christ is to first be honest about the self. We must recognize the deadly self before we can appropriate the life of Jesus. This was true the day we got saved, and it’s true every day ever since.
Are you struggling over your sin today? Are you exhausted trying to live up to your own standard? Are you torn apart by it? Do you often feel like you’re dying inside? Do you cry out like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7 “Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death!”?
That struggle is the loving guidance of Christ in your life. Like Nathan with David, it is the grace of God at work in you in a deeply personal way. Where there is no struggle there is denial. Where there is no struggle there is no growth in Christ. Look at how David describes it in Psalm 32:
Psalm 32:1. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
The life of union with Christ is a life of paradox. Life only comes through death. Success only comes through failure. The worst in us must be exposed before the Best in us (Jesus himself) can be revealed. To live in denial of sin is to miss out on what Christ has done for you and in you.
How do we move forward from our denial?
Denial of the sinful self must be replaced with self-denial. But there is only one way for a Christian to live in the freedom of true self-denial: the CROSS. Trusting in your co-crucifixion with Christ. “For you died” (Col. 3:3). “You must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom. 6:11). “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20).
You simply cannot overcome the fleshly self with more commitments and re-dedications. No asceticism, self-flagellation, penance, or confession will do. These are just more denial. More self-centeredness. Only faith in our union with Christ’s death can transform our hearts. Only trusting in the completed work of God’s love on the cross will destroy the power of the unloving flesh. Only as we are made more and more aware of our sin (you are the man), and convinced more and more that we have died to that sin (blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity), will sin then die in our lives as we rely less and less on the self and more and more on “to live is Christ.”
How has God been confronting you lately? Where is your struggle? Are you in denial?
You in Christ
How aware each day are you of the death of your sinful self? Are you still trying to kill what is already dead?
Christ in you
“Not I” must precede “but Christ” (Gal. 2:20). Where can you rely on Christ’s love today rather than trying to manufacture your own love?