And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” - Daniel 10:19
We are sinful. We know it. We can’t hide from it. We can’t shake it. We want to, but we can’t. So we create methods of sin management. We build moats around our castles and keep the draw bridges up. But, no matter how tightly we secure the ropes and how forcefully we command that the bridge not be let down, somehow, before we even realize it, we’re invaded by an army of friendly looking devils. Once inside they ravish us. They destroy our wills. They cater to our flesh and our flesh trades our righteousness in for a good time. Before we know it we welcome them into our castle and give them the seat of honor at the table. We make friends with them. And then, after the party ends and the torches burn out for the night, we’re left with guilt. It over takes us and we long for comfort.
So, when we find out that we aren’t good sin managers as we previously thought what do we do? Often we vow to never do it again. We know it’s a lie the moment we say it but we say it still. Perhaps we’ll take a week to feel as guilty as possible about our actions all the while thinking we’re atoning for it through our guilt feelings. Some of us drift into dark thoughts of God: maybe he really isn’t good, maybe he really does hate me, maybe he really is going to destroy me and send me to hell because of this. Others of us take our bodies to the whipping post. We rage inside at ourselves as if we ever had the ability to stave off sin in the first place. All of these are worthless attempts. After sin we have one refuge, one comfort, one reconciler: Jesus.
The moment after sin is in some ways the most important time. Because we hate our sin so much, we make a big deal of our sin. We dwell on it. We despise it, yes, but in some ways we give it an honor that it doesn’t deserve. We give it our attention. But, sin is not the point. Jesus who saves us from sin is the point. He deserves the honor. He deserves the attention. We don’t conquer sin by anything we do. We conquer sin by faith in Jesus. Therefore, when constructing your next castle, lay the traditional plans aside. Forget the drawbridge and don’t bother digging the moat. In fact, leave the roof off and the door unlocked. Don’t fear the devils. Not because they won’t come, but because they have no lasting power. Only Jesus has that.
And so when you sin next in that most painful, most embarrassing, most despicable way, hear the voice of your Savior from the prophet Daniel. “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And let us like Daniel say, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” Jesus loves us greatly. A love of that magnitude can do nothing less than strengthen us. The gospel’s message of the love of God doesn’t manage our sin for us; he takes it out back to the woodshed and handles it for us. All we have to do it walk with Jesus. He’ll take care of us – even when we continue to sin. He’s that good. We are greatly loved.