Spiritual writer Louis Evely makes this observation about the spiritual life. “Genuine sincerity consists, not in concluding that we’re bad, but in affirming that we’re a blend of good and bad and aren’t happy about it.” Earlier in my walk with the Lord, I would not have understood this statement. Now it feels liberating. What brought about the change?
I slowly learned my spiritual life consisted of what John Sandford called “performance orientation.” It is defined as, “The constant tendency of the born anew is to fall back into striving by human effort. Our minds and spirits know the free gift of salvation, but our hearts retain their habit to earn love by performing. We live unaware that motives other than God’s love have begun to corrupt our serving through striving, tension and fear.” I was striving with the “ingrained habits of sin” in my life. My mind know the right theology, but it had not reached my heart.
Jesus observation of the Pharisees spiritual condition could have been applied to me. “You’re like whitewashed graves, which look very fine on the outside, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and uncleanness of every kind.” I sure didn’t want to expose this condition to anyone. I first of all had to come to terms and admit to myself that I was like a whitewashed grave. Heini Arnold described my condition, observing, “As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own will power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever.”
At this stage of the journey I can honestly acknowledge that I am “a beloved sinner.” I don’t necessarily agree with spiritual guides who encourage us to disavow being of sinner. I rejoice that I am a new man in Christ, affirmed in knowing the love of the Father. I identify with Paul when he declares, “I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously, reached out for me. (Phil 3:12 – Message).
Here are some principles that have brought me some “genuine sincerity” about my spiritual journey.
1) Lordship of Jesus – First and foremost, I have always wanted Jesus to be Lord in my life. In my early days the image from the Campus Crusade tract with the two thrones was helpful for me. While there were times when I crawled down off the throne, my heart’s desire was for Jesus to be on the throne. That meant a life of continual confession, repentance and surrender
2) Light of the Word – The authority of Scripture in all matters of faith and practice was fundamental to my worldview. This meant that exposure to the God’s word through study and mediation was not optional.
3) The work of the Holy Spirit – In the early 60’s Judy and I got involved in the Charismatic movement. We welcomed the Holy Spirit into our lives.
4) The indwelling presence of God – In the 80’s I finally coming to the awareness that God’s presence was within me. It was life changing
5) The double knowledge – I learned this from Dr. James Houston. Augustine summed it up – “Let me know thee, O God and let me know myself. That is all.”
6) Finally, being God’s beloved. I learned to rejoice in having a Father in heaven who delights in me. This has become my passion – to help men know that they are loved by God in the midst of all their shame, guilt and vulnerability. I was liberated to be myself. I want to share this truth with men.