The reality is, is that we still live in sin-filled bodies. My desire, like Paul’s, is to be delivered from this body of death (Romans 7). My desire is to stop sinning, like totally! I get tired of living in a world full of sinners, me being chief-in-sinner. I read theology, I read the Bible all of the time, I memorize large amounts of Scripture, I pray constantly, I try and fellowship with other saints (my family first) as much as I physically am able; but I still sin, and quite frequently with boldness. So what is the key?
I think one of the keys is what Paul wrote in one of my favorite epistle’s of his, Philippians:
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. 2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit,[a] rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule,[b] let us be of the same mind. 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. [chapter 3]
The Apostle Paul had all of the accolades; the achievements; the peer respect. But he counted it all crap that he might gain Christ. So Christ continues to remain the key. The trick, for me (maybe not for you, I don’t know), is to allow what I am absorbing through Scripture reading, etc. to actually speak to me; to hear the living voice of God in the text, to encounter in a way that dialogical exchange takes place in such a way that intimacy with God in Christ flourishes, and my favorite sins become as petty and ugly as they actually are in light of the beauty of the Savior. There is really nothing academic, ever!, about walking with Jesus Christ. If all of this is about being academic, about gaining fame from other’s, about floating new and exciting ideas about Christ that have no real impact in my life (as true and sound as those ideas might be); then it all means nothing (to imbibe some more Paul cf. I Cor. 13).
I guess I will have to live with the fact that I am a terrible sinner, and accept the reality that I am, at points, apparently, willing to forego fellowship with my God in order to cultivate intimacy with my idols; but in reality, I am unwilling to accept this as reality. The reality is, is that Christ has condemned my sins, condemned my idols in his body, to death; the reality is, is that I have hope, and resurrection/recreative power here and now. The reality is, is that I don’t have to walk in step with the devil, but I can walk in step with the Spirit moment by moment in the trail already blazed in the vicarious footsteps of Jesus Christ and through his intercessory work.
So the conclusion for me is that I am unwilling to settle for idolatry; I will press on toward the goal of the upward calling in Christ Jesus, and forget the crap that lies behind.