If you know me, you know I’m a big Tenth Avenue North fan, and am eagerly awaiting the release of their upcoming album, The Struggle. The catchphrase from the title track goes like this: Hallelujah, we are free to struggle, we’re not struggling to be free. Here’s how they put it – “We are free to fail because there’s an ocean of grace that we fall into. But also, we have the promise of a power so strong that it raised Christ Himself, and so we know that, mystery of mysteries, we’re also not struggling to be free.” Definitely cause to sing hallelujah.
Here’s something else I’m thinking about, though. We aren’t only free to struggle, we need to struggle. One way to think about struggles is to think about the ‘struggles of life,’ the things that come at us that are difficult to deal with. The other struggle we all have to face is our struggle with sin, and I would argue that that’s the bigger issue here. Jesus died for our sins, so you know they must be a big deal. He came that we might be cleansed, that we might be sanctified, made holy; that we might, one day, finally be free from our sin.
So if we are to be struggling with sin, we should be asking, what does that look like? What does it look like to struggle? I’ve often found myself saying, “Oh, I’m struggling with this and this,” talking about some kind of sin that I’ve routinely been committing. Often the truth is that I’m not really struggling with it. Am I sinning? Yeah. Is that a problem? Yes. But am I struggling, as in conscientiously, diligently fighting against it with all that I have? No. Far too often, in the moment that I face the temptation to sin in that way, I’ve already given in. I may stop long enough to think, “Hmm, this is wrong. I shouldn’t be doing it.” But I do it anyway. I’ve been in that place a million times before and 9 out of 10 times I’ve given in. I’ve stopped truly struggling against it.
It’s not that I don’t think it’s wrong. After the deed, I immediately feel bad, knowing I shouldn’t have done it, but more often than not, I’m not feeling true remorse that leads to repentance. I might feel bad because the thing itself made me feel bad, or simply because I went against what I’d said I’d do (or not do). It still centers on me, though, rather than an awareness that I have sinned against God and that what I need is a Saviour, not just a behavioural change.
The thing is, we won’t really start fighting unless we really believe there’s reason to. We won’t fight and honestly struggle with our sin unless we’re truly repentant. Only then will we even stand a fighting chance, because only then will we realize that God is our only hope, and only then will we call on Him and want to run to Him with everything we’ve got.
So yes, let me know the struggle ends, but in the meantime, also give me grace and strength to struggle fiercely and honestly. Bring me to the cross, Lord.