Does this describe your life? Have you questioned your relationship to Christ because of a habitual sin? Do you wonder if God can ever use you because of it? Are you ashamed to share the gospel of Christ with others because of your sins?
I recently responded to a series of questions based on this very premise and I'm sending out a portion of that response as this week's Shoveletter. Jim
I am quite familiar with the way you view your life as it is how I used to view it, too. Not only did I grow up with those basic assumptions instilled from my childhood but I had it reinforced by years of religious training. Whereas you refer to yourself as "living in sin" - and I'm sure you've had it hammered in by others - I'm going to suggest that you are instead living under the influence of sin-CONSCIOUSNESS. Now maybe that sounds like a semantic technicality to you, but I say it makes all the difference in the world.
Consider how you started off by questioning the reality of your being joined to Christ based upon what you do or do not do, and also how you view your usefulness to God as being based upon the very same. These questions and concerns are enmeshed in sin and sin-related perceptions. What you do clearly refers to sins of commission, while What you don't do indicates sins of omission. These designations once so embedded in my every day life (especially in my strived-for daily devotions) seem so foreign now.
Let me get a little pointed here. How is it that you - one who has been set free from sin - now assume that you still live in sin? What if you have been falsely taught to view yourself according to the very thing Christ has made to be no more? Don't you realize that there is one reason, and only one reason, for which you would now view yourself as living in sin? It's called LAW, and despite its illegitimate demand you are still being convinced of your guilt and sinfulness and not of your forgiveness and righteousness. And since your righteousness is Christ himself what is it that you are judging yourself by if not him?
I know, I know, this seems to totally evade the whole matter of your current lifestyle, doesn't it, as if grace makes it somehow okay to continue in your present sin? But it's exactly at this point you need to recognize the deceptiveness of sin in its connection with law. After all, it has not been grace by which you have erroneously established the whole intricately-woven web of legalities through which you delicately tread between your concerns of right and wrong, it has been by sin, which works through law. And if that statement comes across as incredibly difficult to follow, it should, because it describes the insane game by which we have manipulated reality to fit our perceptions.
Don't you see that it is only through an amazing series of complex beliefs and contradictory attempts of living in view of good and evil that you have been able to pin-point the sin that has been haunting you? How else do you think you can determine the exact nature of the evil that is bringing you so much guilt? After all, where do you draw the line? How technical must you get? Is this sin found in the stated violation - and exactly at what point is that determined? Or does it begin with the decision to do it ... or even the desiring of it, without ever having to commit it? The condemning possibilities are endless!
I don't know if i'm in Christ or not ... I don't know if God can ever use me ... i'm ashamed to proclaim the gospel
Let me get very blunt. What kind of gospel leaves you in the unknown regarding the very premise of the actual good news of Christ, which is full confidence in one's relationship to God through Christ? What kind of gospel causes you to think it's all about what you do or don't do, when the good news declares that it's not about you at all but all about Christ and what he has done and is now doing? Do you see where I'm going with this? Perhaps your shame is linked to a gospel that is more about your successes and failures than about Christ.