The lawn guys are here again this morning, like they are every week in the summer. All week long the stuff grows, and then they cut it off again.
Kind of like our lifelong struggle with the sin that seems to never leave us alone. We can either go into denial (what, me sin?) which would be like letting the grass grow without mowing it. Or we could go hide in a monastery, hoping that being away from cable TV and the other temptations of civilization will insulate us from sin; but monks in monasteries struggle just the same as you and I. We can beat ourselves up with remorse and promise God never to do it again (sort of like cutting the grass really, really short and hoping it won't grow back) and then of course get really depressed with the sin comes back to haunt us next week.
None of these works. We're still alive and sin still happens, in spite of our most earnest efforts. But we've also been forgiven by Jesus Christ, and brought into new life with him; so our sins no longer count against us. What freedom and relief!
Paul said this in Romans 7: "22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." Now, this chapter is a hard one to understand for a lot of reasons, but here's one quick analysis of this section: No matter how much I love God, and though I am reborn in Christ, I'm still human and can't get away from sin.
The grass still grows. We still have to cut it. Sin still happens. And because of the mind of God in us, because we are 'in Christ', we want to root out sin and be turned more fully to the mind of Christ (otherwise, using the metaphor, we'd let the grass grow, and maybe park old junk cars in the lawn too). That desire to turn from sin in disgust comes from the Holy Spirit in us, and when we obey his prompting and cry out to God again, our love-bond with God strengthens. Our sin is already covered by the blood of Christ -- we don't have to 'repent' of every new sin in the sense of hoping to be forgiven -- but that continual turning away from sin and toward God is what 'walking in the Spirit' is about.
Like any parent, God knows his children aren't going to be perfect. That's what the sacrifice of Christ was about. But he loves us, and he loves it when we keep coming back to him every day, even when we have to apologize for getting dirty and leaving grass clippings everywhere. His love covers it all, and like any parent, he'd rather have us in his house, all cleaned up now, than standing outside pretending the grass doesn't need cutting.
Have a great summer!