By Bill Wheat
My son Steve asked me a question when he was about 7 or 8, "Dad, how do I be good?"
The older I get, the more amazed I am at how such an insightful question came from such a young and innocent child. What he really wanted to know was how to please me and do what I kept asking him to do:
'Steve, be good!'
'Steve stop that and be Good...'
'Steve when we get there...BE GOOD'
He must have heard me say that every day of his young life. He was even hearing it 'before' he had a chance to get it wrong!
Be good, Be good, BE GOOD.
Although, with very little thought, I gave him an answer, "its impossible, Steve, only Jesus can make us good.” I didn’t have a clue at the time what he was really asking me, and just how right I was!
Let me be brutally honest about it, sometimes I like to Sin! Sometimes, I want to sin. Often I sin intentionally and yet I know it’s wrong. Just how do I 'BE Good’?
My spirit wants to be good, there is no question there. As a young Christian, I struggled so hard to do the right thing or rather, say no to the wrong thing. I would feel an instant check when I sinned, a separation from God, a loss of peace and joy. The wonderful fellowship I discovered with Jesus the night I said “Yes” to him would be gone. I grieved over my sin and repented, over and over and over again.
As the years went by, I found it easier and easier to sin, not harder. This worries me. I found it harder and harder to repent, 'and think I really meant it'. As I sit here tonight, pondering the years gone by and all I have done to offend the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, I still don't have an answer to the question, 'Just how do I 'Be Good'?
For 30 years or more, I have been trying different remedies to that driving desire in my flesh to sin. No, that’s too easy; blaming my flesh is just an easy way to take myself out of the equation of why I sin. The person who wants to sin is sitting right here, typing on the keyboard, thinking conscious thoughts, making decisions. The person who sins is ... ME.
I have tried many remedies to my dilemma; reading the bible more, praying more, getting more fellowship with fellow sinners, fasting, weeping, yes, writing and journaling about it. And I'm tired. Tired of trying, tired of failing, tired of falling and all the while I know that just around the cornier is another temptation, another battle. Yes, victories I have won, and yet a thousand victories over sin seem to disappear and seem valueless against just one failure.
And of course there is the shame issue; my sins are often in full view of those I love. It seems unfair that they cannot see the victories, the times I 'didn't get it wrong'. They cannot see the countless times I got it right. What they can see is what I do wrong. Most battles I fight, win or loose, are in my mind. When I fail, when I act on the temptations, that is what people can see. The internal struggle with sin, the thoughts that go into the fight, these are invisible to all but the Lord himself.
It all seems pretty bleak doesn't it? Well it’s not! As I have thought about these things and all the years I have been struggling, okay, I’ll use it here, I have been struggling against the desires of the Flesh, My flesh, questions have come to me;
'Is the Blood of Jesus GREATER then the weakness of my flesh?'
'Is what Jesus did on the Cross, GREATER then the deeds I do in my daily Life?'
What am I really saying when I condemn myself as hopeless and a failure? Could it really be that I am the one person who went over the edge to the point that Jesus Christ cannot redeem? Is my natural bent for sin stronger then his power to forgive and deliver? And why do I even worry about my sin, other then the natural consequences?
I am not a theologian, but something in me cries out when it comes to a vote for Christ or against me! I cannot comprehend any situation in others where I would say that the Blood of Jesus is not quite sufficient, so why not me? Is it okay to sin? NO! Does God want me to continue to sin? NO! Does God want people who know I'm a Christian to see me sin? NO, NO, NO!
But this one thing in my spirit cries out while I seek the answer to the question, 'How Do I Be Good'. Jesus Christ is for the sinner, even for me! Yes, he grieves over my sin, he hates what sin does to me and those who love me. But I have come to believe, that as long as I have breath in my body, THERE IS HOPE!
So like young Steve, I still am searching for the answer to, ‘HOW DO I BE GOOD’? Truthfully, I'm ashamed to admit that although I have been a believer since I was a young boy, I still do not fully know; but lately a few verses from an old hymn have become my battle cry, my point of reference in all my confusion, a rock on which to heal from the wounds of battles lost:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
I wish that I could write about battles fought and won, a valley experience followed by a triumphant mountain top, but I cannot just yet. Who could I ever share this with? I cannot believe that I am the only Christian to struggle with the sin issue. Perhaps, the key is in the fact that the only time I don’t want to sin is when I’m filled with his spirit!
Maybe someday I will find someone who needs to know that they are not alone. Perhaps there is another person out there who doesn’t seem to have a moral fiber in their body, someone who has absolutely no hope, 'Except in Jesus'. Perhaps one day I will get a chance to share with someone that, as I often feel, they are NOT alone in their struggle. Maybe someday. But perhaps I really am fortunate in one thing and one thing only; I know that without Christ himself, I have no hope.
I know, I know, I KNOW…without question, without any doubts or reservations, I know how much I need Jesus, and in Jesus, and Jesus alone, I have hope! If by some miracle one day someone reads this who struggles with sin like me, I just want you to know, You are not Alone!
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 NASB)
(© 2012 Bill Wheat – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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