Thoroughly Flawed And Ferociously Loved

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” – Tim Keller

What a paradox this is—and one, it seems, that very few people can comfortably embrace. I have witnessed many friends respond to the simultaneous realities of their sinful corruption and God’s great love in one of two erroneous ways. They either 1) minimize the extent of their sinfulness or 2) refuse to believe God could possibly love them. The former deny the depth of their wretchedness and embrace desires they should mortify; the latter compulsively obsess over the evil within them and retreat into self-hatred.

My friend Josh (not his real name) has been struggling for years to come to terms with what the Bible teaches concerning his same-sex attraction. He professed Christ as a teenager and since that time has never doubted the vastness of God’s love for him. However, Josh has always found it difficult to believe his sexuality has been ravaged and distorted by Original Sin. He recently began to run with a pack of professing Christians who see nothing wrong with monogamous homosexual relationships. They believe Josh’s desire to love and be loved by another man (in the romantic sense) can’t possibly rise from his sinful nature but rather is a good desire that God wired into him. After they walked him through their gay-affirming interpretation of specific biblical texts, Josh finally rejected the idea that his homosexual feelings are a manifestation of his sinful nature. He started dating guys a couple of years ago—convinced that embracing these desires would usher him into the contentment for which he has always longed. However, Josh recently confided in me that he continues to feel deeply dissatisfied. He still lacks peace and joy.

My friend Ashley (not her real name) falls on the other end of the spectrum. She has zero problems accepting that she is a thoroughly messed up human being—in fact, she can’t seem to think about anything else! Ashley lives in an almost constant state of spiritual and emotional paralysis. She doesn’t read the Bible anymore because every time she opens it her shame and self-hatred soar to unbearable levels. She stopped praying and going to church for the same reasons. Ashley believes God loves sinners; she just can’t believe he is able to love her. She believes Christ’s blood is sufficient to cover sin; she just can’t believe it is sufficient to cover hers.

Though their outward lives look wildly different, Josh and Ashley both possess hearts that refuse to believe the whole gospel. They lack the joy and peace God offers because they fail to embrace the totality of his message, accepting only fractions of it instead.

God says, “You’re right; I do love you! But your heart is desperately sick,” (Jeremiah 17:9) and Josh responds, “I can’t believe that!”

God says, “You’re right; you are a heinous sinner! But I vividly demonstrated my love for you when I sacrificed my Son for your sins,” (Romans 5:8) and Ashley responds, “I can’t believe that!”

Submitting to God’s assessment of reality is difficult because it requires tremendous humility. Only humility can embrace that we really are as corrupt, distorted, and sin-ravaged as God says we are. Only humility can embrace that God’s love toward us is not thwarted by our evil condition but so high and fierce that he, at great cost to himself, provided a means for us to be reconciled to him. The bloody Cross of Jesus demonstrates both the extensiveness of our corruption and the enormity of God’s affection for us—and the only proper way for us to respond is in humble belief. We are to look at Christ crucified and really believe that our sin is actually that bad. We are to look at Christ crucified and really believe that God’s love is actually that wonderful.

Submitting to the totality of the gospel message is the only road that leads to the lasting joy and impenetrable peace the Bible describes. When Josh finally accepts he is dearly loved by God yet severely damaged by sin, he won’t be a depressed self-loather; he will be a humble Christian who knows God’s peace. When Ashley accepts she is filled to the rim with sin yet treasured and cherished by God, she won’t be a cheapener of God’s love; she will be a humble Christian who knows God’s joy. Belief in the gospel—the whole gospel—is the only road to true, full, and everlasting life.

  • Lyle Nelson

    To our limited human minds, this does not seem possible. And, except for the incomprehensible grace of God, it is not. Either our pride will not allow us to admit, even to ourselves, the extent of our brokenness. Or if it does, then our mind sees no way that a perfectly holy God could make a way to look past that.and provide us with eternal salvation. This is truly the greatest of all miracles and cannot be fully understood this side of eternity. it’s where acceptance by faith alone is the only way we can take it in.

  • For about twenty years, I lived like ‘Ashley’ always knowing that I was forgiven, but that God couldn’t possibly accept me because I was SSA. This left me with a lot of self doubt and emptiness, and always seeking relgion and not a relationship with the Father. In fact, I didn’t even know I could call Him Father; I always had that Ten Commandments view of God, full of smiting and no forgiveness. About a year ago, as I was attending a Bible study at our church I learned I could call him Father, I could have a relationship with Him. The gravity of what happened when I heard that false message, how much was stolen from me by Satan, hit me. I lost twenty years of relationship with my Father, who didn’t reject me because I was SSA. But like a father, he sets rules for ALL his children. So much was restored to me that day, and it continues to this day. Thanks Matt!

  • Chris Winkelmann

    There is deep seeded issues in both cases that need inner healing.

  • Lynn Cole

    “Though their outward lives look wildly different, Josh and Ashley both possess hearts that refuse to believe the whole gospel.” I used to say that maybe the reason people were struggling so hard including me, was that the “Gospel was just too Good to be True?!” Again that Sinful nature takes this astounding Mercy and Gift of Freedom God offers, and twists it into something we have to work out or work for, or at the very least beat our selves up from time to time just to let God know, we know we are bad. Like the dog that slinks around knowing He is guilty of tearing up that pillow, or spilling over the bowl of water. I found out only recently through an excruciatingly painful failure in my almost 40 year walk with the Lord, that I was correct! It is too Good to be True, he forgives the repentant heart that Sins, Falls short of His Glory, and then cleanses us from ALL unrighteouness. Literally cleans up our hearts and then says, now live in Freedom, yes I am offering you complete Freedom right now from your years of debilitating guilt and shame because I Love you!! Believe what He says in His word because it really really is true, and this truth will set you Free, to just roll around in His Lavish Love for you, Love others and Enjoy His Presence now and for all Eternity! ; )
    Thank You for Matt Lord, and using Him to Bring the Good News to your people in this hour.

  • ehhhidts

    lol your attitude about Josh is so condescending.

    • Milton Orgeron

      Hardly condescending, given that Matt confessed on this same blog his own temporary return to a same-sex relationship similar to what “Josh” did. And isn’t being rid of internalized self-loathing exactly what unbelievers and lib-prog Christians promise to same-sex attracted people if they return to a same-sex relationship? How many years does Josh have to wait for the promised peace in his heart? Or will it still be “Bush’s fault”?

  • ehhhidts

    “However, Josh recently confided in me that he continues to feel deeply dissatisfied. He still lacks peace and joy.”

    You seem to think that this is proof that Josh’s behavior/beliefs are wrong and that deep down he knows it. More likely it’s because you can’t just shed a lifetime of self-loathing in a few years. You grow up being told what a screwed up abomination you are, you’re going to internalize it.

  • Regan DuCasse

    **

  • Milton Orgeron

    ***** 🙂

  • cryptical

    This is beautiful, Matt. Thank you.

  • Domenick

    “they walked him through their gay-affirming interpretation of specific biblical texts” Matt, maybe you can do a blog on interpreting these texts.

  • JesusIsTheWay

    thank you for this message. it has brought me great peace and tears to my eyes (happy ones!)

  • Marie

    Thank you for this message. it has brought me great peace and tears to my eyes (happy ones!)