My name is Chelsea, and I’m a recovering earnaholic.
If there was a support group for me (although, hello, I know it’s the Church), I might start out with this line: I’ve spent much of my Christian life working for God, for an identity of my own, instead of receiving His life and all He has for me.
Earlier this year, I realized (thank you, Holy Spirit) something striking: my greatest desire wasn’t God, but to be good enough in all eyes (my own, others, and His). In my experience, earning love is a sin masquerading as not that bad. It is a mixture of fear and pride buried deep under the idol of image management. It’s a habit often rooted in self-satisfaction, not God-my-All. And it’s colored by a need to be worthy by our own standards, not what God has declared to be true.
In this life, there is sin we’ve battled our entire Christian life, sin we have grown comfortable in, or sin we’re continually wearied by. How do we wrestle down sins that don’t easily appear to be sin, without glorifying them as part of who we are? How do we live the life we now live in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us? (Galatians 2:20) Below are strategies I have found helpful, no matter how imperfectly I execute them.
1. We apply the gospel to every moment until the response is as natural as breathing.
In a sentence, what is the gospel? “The gospel is the good news that the everlasting and ever-increasing joy of the never-boring, ever-satisfying Christ is ours freely and eternally by faith in the sin-forgiving death and hope-giving resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (John Piper)
The gospel can be a jolt of energy when we feel exhausted in our sin battles. The gospel can be healing balm when we feel broken by the weakness of our flesh. The gospel can be a source of joy when we realize we are not alone in our wrestling. To be these things, the gospel of Jesus can’t be a cloud floating above us, drifting, it must be vigilantly applied to every thought and feeling.