I grew up outside of the cliche "norm" of someone raised in the "Bible Belt." I didn't know the most popular gospel or contemporary Christian songs. I was unfamiliar with the most popular phrase "God is good, all the time" and that you were supposed to respond with "and all the time God is good". You would think that my mouth knew how to automatically spew encouragements and blessings of victory, every time I heard "now turn to your neighbor." Truth be told, I didn't hear it enough to have caught on to the pattern of behavior that should have inevitably followed that statement.
However, as a young black man, I did grow up believing that overcoming adversity in America and waking up every morning as synonymous to God's favor equating to salvation. I had no idea of the true salvation I so desperately needed. The salvation that was purchased for me with Jesus's blood. The salvation from the righteous indignation of God and simultaneous forgiveness of my sins.
One thing that I was sure of though, was the recitation of Psalm 23. Most of those who had any influence in my life could quote that scripture and at the same time teach me how to properly objectify women. Some were concerned about the quantity of women, while others were concerned about the quality. Those who were closest to me and had my best interest at heart were more concerned that I protected myself and remained safe while objectifying women regardless of the quantity or quality. Needless to say, I fell short of the simplest of standards.
When I was brought to repentance in 2010, I was saved from a thoroughly paganistic lifestyle, where I had been turned over to many sins (Rom 1:18-32). The Lord rescued me from the bondage of many sins but there were certain infirmities that carried over and have been plaguing my life even as a believer (Rom 7:14, Gal 4:3). As I remember the most popular psalmist David, I think of his most heinous sins recorded in scripture and have taken special note that even though he was a man after God's own heart...he was not exempt from the consequences of his sins. I too, have often (and when I say often, I mean daily) had to apply that same reasoning to my own walk with God. I've discovered that I've desired for my sins to be forgiven and the consequences to be made null and void but have often been led by the Spirit to recall that God wants us to be broken with a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Broken is a consistent condition of weakness, and where I am weak, His power is made perfect (2 Cor 12:9).
Also, knowing that He gave me His Spirit as a seal of redemption, reminds me that what He started in me, He will perfect until the day of Christ Jesus's return" (Eph 1:13-14, Phl 1:6). I have been justified by Christ. I am currently being sanctified and one day, all by God's grace, I will be glorified with Him.
Daily, the enemy, my flesh and/or the world tries to remind me of my sins. They try to remind me that I've fallen short of God's glory. They remind me that I've hurt others and try to convince me that my family and friends would be better off without me. They catapult my besetting sins before my eyes as my anxiety infuses thoughts into my mind of helplessness and hopelessness.
I think on the words of Shane and Shane's "Embracing Accusations" song:
"The father of lies coming to steal, kill and destroy
All my hopes of being good enough
I hear him saying, "Cursed are the ones who can't abide"
He's right, Hallelujah, he's right
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed
That I am cursed and gone astray
I cannot gain salvation, embracing accusation
Could the father of lies be telling the truth
Of God to me tonight?
If the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine"
But I remember...greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world! Greater is the work of the cross than the futility, vanity and consequences of my sins! Greater is the heart of flesh than the heart of stone! My sins have been removed from me, but Jesus, my Savior still reigns!
My Savior IS indeed greater than my past!
Amen and amen