Growth Expounded

Where else can I go?

You alone have the words of life.

I would hide my face due to sin;

 

But still Your grace beckons me in.

 

“I’m a lost cause, You should give me up”

Cries my tortured heart.

Yet deeper still hope resides;

 

I crave your love ever-still.

 

A dog of a man am I;

Vomit my favorite meal.

Quick to clasp my soul again in chains,

 

Forged anew by passion’s zeal.

 

And the saddest part of all?

I am so ashamed to say.

Is I have tasted freedom each time anew,

 

And sold it again for a mere bowl of stew.

 

How I hate these self-made chains;

I, myself, only to blame.

But is that fully true?

 

I suspect something beneath the shadow’s hue.

 

Ah yes, the adversary of old,

There you are hiding beneath the fold.

I’d like to say it’s all your fault,

 

But that would be so undue.

 

I find hardest to defeat,

Is the subtle subterfuge within.

You see the toughest foe to vanquish;

 

Is me, the old man of sin.

 

Where else can I go?

You said You save, so save.

What’s impossible to me,

 

Is nothing to the King.

 

I wish I could see a happy ending,

But I fear this may not be so.

I am a work in progress,

 

But why progress, are you so slow?

 

Just when I think it’s over,

I put myself to shame.

There was a day,

 

When the grief You felt, I felt the same.

 

How this came to be I still don’t know,

But somehow to me You’re more real than ever so.

Perhaps it’s just this growing conviction,

 

That every time I fall and rise again, I grow.

© 2012, Matt Camphuis all rights reserved.

Growth Expounded

“but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” 2 Peter 3:18a

What does it mean to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

In the context of Peter’s second epistle the apostle is encouraging the readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and that doing so will help them to be steadfast in the truth of the scriptures. It is important that we be strong in what we know about Jesus, that He has died to show us grace, otherwise we will trust in what we feel- which is all to often wrong.

There is really only one thing that we as Christians must learn to be strong in and it is through a process of growth that this occurs. We must grow to be strong in the grace of God through the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The only place that you find a solid and firm source for the knowledge of Jesus Christ is through the clear promises contained in the scriptures. You don’t have to guess if God will show you grace, because it’s already written out for you. There can be many times when we feel weak as a Christian, or we feel as failures when we should be victors, but that is where the importance of being strong in the knowledge of God’s grace for us comes in (2 Timothy 2:1). Some would fear lest we speak too much of the grace of God, as if it would give the Christian license to sin, but rather it is the other way around- it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

When I wrote this poem it came from the anguish of my soul against a particular sin that would simply not die. It was the sin of lust, both in my heart and in my actions, and it seemed a never ending battle that I was doomed and destined to lose. The poem starts off with the condition of my heart, my face to the ground without the desire to stand up again, yet I found the amazing grace of God continually beckoned me back to Him, no matter how many times I had fallen into sin. Where else could I go but back to His grace, His unmerited favor of love and forgiveness.

I remember telling the Lord many times that He should just give up on me, that I was a lost cause- there was no chance He could ever change my heart. Perhaps I could change the way I looked on the outside, but in the secret places where no one could see I found myself falling into hidden sins, hating every moment of it but sinning nonetheless. My heart was tortured because I found myself doing that which I hated and offending Him whom I loved.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [how] to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will [to do], I do not do; but the evil I will not [to do], that I practice.” Romans 7:18-19

Yet deeper still, buried beneath the surface of my forced words- the cry for God to give me up, was a hope that resided; a hope that God could still save me from myself and a longing to know the ever faithful love of God. The God that I knew would continue to love me- despite myself.

I found myself to be likened unto a dog, just as the proverbs declare, always finding my way back to the vomit of my favorite sin- every bite grotesque to my pardoned soul. As a Christian struggling with a sin which refused to decease I found the worst part of it all was that I knew I had freedom from it- I knew I had the power in Christ to say no to it and yet allowed it to defeat me. It was as if I had chains about my hands, but they were simply resting on my bare wrists- unlocked. The only one that kept me in my bondage was me, because Jesus had already set me free.

When I considered my inner battles more often I found that there was more then just myself that I was fighting, there was truly something beneath the shadow’s hue, there was Satan the adversary of old seeking to devour that which wasn’t his. I would have liked to blamed him for my every fall, but the problem wasn’t him- it wasn’t those temptations that He offered since it was me who went looking; he only had to wait for me to fall into my own trap. Every time Satan would try to meet me head on, he failed. He could only get me when I wanted to be gotten. The problem was me, I was the one who had to change, Satan can not take all the blame for the fall of a Christian into sin… even if he is involved.

When a person puts their faith in Jesus they are saved instantly and declared righteous before God based solely on the redeeming work of Christ on the cross- this is salvation. After that though is what is known as sanctification, and sanctification is a work in a progress. For some this can happen very fast, for others it seems as if God leaves certain things in our lives to teach us how to fight and to teach us to depend daily on His grace. What we learn in the end though, the more we walk with God, is how desperately we needed a Savior. The more you learn of the goodness and grace of God the more you learn how much your wicked heart falls short of it. The more you come to know of the holiness and perfection of God the more you come to know how impossible it is for you to be like Him and the more you are convinced how truly you need, and always will need, a Savior to trust in.

There are times when we can fall so much, that we make ourselves desensitized to the convictions and grieving of the Holy Spirit, which can be a very dangerous place for the Christian to be. It does not mean your salvation is lost, only that your usefulness to the kingdom purposes may be lessened.

Even in those times though, although perhaps you may feel like you are becoming more and more lost and you feel as though you are going to surely lose the battle, that is when you must be strong in the grace of God. That is where you must pray 1 John 1:9 which says,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Every time we fall, and pray that God would forgive us and restore us and change us, then get back up- that is growth. You may not think it is, and you may not feel like it is, but it is- because you kept moving forward. Eventually grace wins out in our lives, and eventually God frees us by His grace from those things that He has already freed us from eternally and positionally. I have found that every time I fell, and rose again, God became more real to me. Why? Because I found out that His grace is real. When God said He wanted to show love to the world through sending His Son to die for it, He really meant it (John 3:16-17). When the Bible says in Psalm 136 over and over again that His mercy (His goodness, kindness, faithfulness) endures forever, it really does. When John is speaking of the Word become flesh, and how Jesus came to bring grace upon grace in truth, I have seen in my own life that it is true. What my ears had heard of I have now seen. What I had read of I now have known.

God’s grace really is unmerited, it really is undeserved, and it really is free- it really does exist. That is what this poem is about and that I have grown to know God better- even though I have fallen many times along the way. That is my encouragement to you, that even though you want to give up, even though you feel like your not like every other Christian who seems to easily defeat the power of sin- get back up. Trust in the power and strength of the God of Grace. Confess your sin and get back up- watch as His never ending mercy changes you; even if it takes a lifetime.

“For a righteous [man] may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16

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