Self-Awareness Is Crucial in Moving the Love of God from Simply Knowing to Experientially Feeling
However, when the Spirit of God first begins His work of conversion in us, He moves us to bondage and fear (Romans 8:15). We fear failure. We fear discovery. We fear exposure. We fear rejection by people. We fear life. We fear rejection by God. We fear death. Life becomes a form of bondage where we fight to control peoples' perceptions and our environment to prevent discovery of who we really are. Ironic, is it not, that what many call 'dysfunctional living' may actually be the Spirit of God moving a person toward Jesus? If you find it difficult to see how the Spirit works during pre-conversion to lead us to a deeper awareness of our sinfulness, I invite you to listen to this brilliant sermon by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones on Romans 8:15.
My son tells me that he glances at my posts and if they are long, he doesn't read them. I laughed when he told me this, but I recognize the truth behind his statement. In this Twitter age, people don't like long platforms of truth. So, I am going to give you a stunner of truth in the next three paragraphs and hope you read it and stew on it for a few days!
The entire purpose of the Spirit's work within us is to bring to us the self-awareness that there is no greater sinner than I. Self-awareness is defined as the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals. Why should the Spirit of God aim to bring us to the place of wrestling Paul for the title "worst of sinners."? When I refuse to blame other people or my environment for my faults in character and failures in life, then I can begin to feel the gospel of God's grace and love for sinners.
Where my sin is great, God's grace is greater (Romans 5:20) . Where there is remarkable ungodliness, God's eternal and unconditional love for me is even more remarkable (Ephesians 3:14-21). "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst." (I Timothy 1:15). Churches seem to lose sight of this transforming power because church people are constantly looking to 'blame others' for sin, to promote inauthentic leaders that manipulate and control environments to prevent disclosure of any imperfections, and to point the proverbial finger at the world as 'the source of all sin.' No wonder God's love is only something we sing about, but not something that sinks in. In order to experience the unconditional love of God we've got to come to self-awareness of our own failures, and the beauty of defining our personhood by the love and grace of God in the midst of our failures.
So, when's the last time you've taken inventory of your life, spoken of your failures to a friend, and then celebrated the love and grace of God in the midst of them? If you have no concept of how this can be done, then the Spirit may be still in His pre-conversion work in your life which leads to fear and bondage. Open your heart to His unconditional love and cry, "Poppa, I've failed." And hear Him say, "It's okay, my child. I'm in love with failures."