Grace for Brokenness
by Matt Chandler with Jared C. Wilson
God has been very, very gracious to me, because there were some serious issues in my home when I was growing up. Some wicked things happened. And because of my background, I had two pretty serious issues in my mind and heart during those years. One was a temper. The other was lust. These were some pervasive generational things with which I struggled.
Then I came to know Christ. My hope was that He would take those things from me. That’s certainly the message I had heard from the pulpit. And when I looked around our church, everybody looked very put together, like they all had it figured out.
Christ powerfully saved me, rescued my heart. But it wasn’t too long after my conversion experience when I realized that anger and lust were still going to be problems for me. My temper had not left me, and lust was still a viable expression when anger and bitterness crept up in my heart.
The thing that confused me and wounded me for a long time, the thing that even soured me on the church for a while, was this: I felt like I was being taught that in my justification, total sanctification also occurred. I thought that in my salvation, my struggles would go away, and further, that if they weren’t removed, it somehow revealed I wasn’t actually new in Christ.
But this is simply not true.
Consider what Paul says in Philippians 3:12: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
Why is Paul passionately pursuing Jesus? Why should we continue to pursue Him, even after our conversion? Because we are broken people. We are really broken.
It is so helpful here that Paul says, “Not that I’ve already obtained this.” It’s comforting, in an odd way, for him to say, “Not that I’m already perfect.” Instead, he acknowledges that he still struggles, needs to grow in some areas, and must continue to follow Jesus, and he says this: “I press on.”
Think about this verse in relation to your struggles with sin in the Christian life. Whatever your particular sins, the implication here is that there is a right way to struggle and a wrong way to struggle. The wrong way to struggle might be described like this: “Let me control this. Let me manage this.” And the right way to struggle might be described like this: push headlong into Jesus, and then keep pushing. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that it’s by beholding Jesus that we are transformed by degrees into the image of Jesus.
The broken in Christ must keep pursuing Christ so that Christ’s power will break more and more areas of bondage in their lives. Going after this merely through behavior modification simply won’t work.
How do you beat sin? We beat sin only by pressing into Jesus, knowing Him, and chasing Him. There is grace upon grace to be had in Him. So much grace, you can’t use it all up. If we broken people will come to Christ in faith, we will receive an infinite supply of grace. This is why we pursue Christ above all—because He is more than enough. He will always be enough.
And He knows our struggles! He knows we are broken people. He knows we still wrestle with entangling sin. It makes no sense to deny them or cover them up or pretend like they don’t exist. We have in Christ the grace that gives us the security to “own” our struggles in front of others. In Christ’s grace, there is freedom to be honest and transparent. When we embrace that security and freedom, then we end up pointing others to the only Source of healing and forgiveness. That source is not our self-improvement project, but the finished work of Christ on the cross.
This article was excerpted from To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain, © 2013 by Matt Chandler, with Jared C. Wilson. Published by David C. Cook, www.davidccook.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Matt Chandler pastors The Village Church, a multi-campus church attended by more than 10,000 people. His sermons are regularly one of the top five podcasts on iTunes, and his first book, The Explicit Gospel, is a bestseller. He lives in Dallas with his wife and three children.