We are a people who love closure. We long for completion. Beginnings and ends mark our lives. The sun rises every day and we watch for its setting, knowing always the end of day will come. The passage of time is measured by the continuous tick of the clock, apart from our control, but isn’t this a gift from the Creator? This gift of time acting like parameters, pleasant boundary lines for our existence, safely tucking us in as we ride through life.
So what does this mean for our struggle with sin? When we come to Christ, we understand his substitutionary atonement – that he died for us, in place of us, and we are set free from sin. But this freedom, albeit a spiritual reality, does not release us from our present struggle to live a holy life. Sometimes it feels like the movement of sin in our lives dances to the tick of the clock, a steady reminder of our fallen nature. We seek the end of sin. We try hard to find spiritual closure.
Let us beware the myth that we can reach a point of fully arriving. The idea that we can mark spiritual progress like a journey from point A to point B, arriving at a place of conquering sin, is nothing short of a lure to legalism. (Legalism being a self-powered spiritual walk where we strive for perfection, placing emphasis on our deeds, not on his grace to work within us the fruit of the Spirit. A feeling of the spiritual walk as “must do” rather than “want to do”). Believing that we can reach a place of spiritual fulfillment on this earth leads us to the trap of spiritual relaxation, where our minds are dull to sin’s earthly reality. Since we are a people of closure and completion, we like to believe that if we put all the puzzle pieces of life together just right, we can sit back and enjoy this ride. Enjoying life? Yes! The idea, “Now I’ve got it!”? No.
This is not to imply that with the Holy Spirit’s power we cannot contentedly enjoy belonging to God. Certainly the spiritual life should not be marked by constant defeat and struggle. We should not be overly focused on what God has completely forgiven and forgotten, our sin. However, being in a place of contentment does not mean being in a place of complete victory over sin and temptation. Paul writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).
Let us keep in mind that life is a journey. By all means, press on, for the day will come when we will arrive – in Jesus’ presence. And then we can relax.