Allowing God to expose and extract sin is one of the most difficult yet rewarding procedures of the Christian life. I have found that this process is especially painful when the sin is deeply rooted in selfishness, pride and entitlement. The hardest sin for God to pull from me is the sin that I wasn’t even aware I had. God would take hold of the ugly weed, and I’d wallow in a mire of denial, pity and shock. A spiritual tug-of-war would commence, and I’d struggle with allowing the sharp (but quick) pruning of God’s hand.
The most recent weed uprooting took place just a few weeks ago. A situation compressed with just the right elements brought to the forefront an incognito, tightly fastened and fully entitled sin of mine. This particular sin only shows up when the atmosphere is drenched with my supposed suffering and misfortune, and I find myself working in defense mode. Instead of claiming my rights and holding onto my justifications this time, God brought me to my knees with reality. No matter where the division of blame lie, I had to claim the sin that sat in my corner.
I wanted to focus on all the other ingredients of the mess, but God sifted through the bowl and handed me my portion of blame. BLAH! I yelled to God, Why must I be the only one to claim responsibility? Why must I be the only one to humble myself? Why must I be the only one committed to Your correction?(None of those statements are true, but that is exactly how I felt at the time).
Finally, I prayed for God to help me, and I took that weed out and laid it at the cross. Instantly, I was filled with the most amazing peace and satisfaction, and I felt righteous before the eyes of my Creator. God’s healing and love covered me, and the presence of the Holy Spirit filled me even more. The entire process from the time I started feeling the pressure of God’s hand to the actual removal of my entrenched sin only took a single evening, but it was a miserable journey that, thankfully, ended in a pool of grace.
I used to wonder what it meant to be filled and led by the Holy Spirit, but now I know. The Spirit of God dwells only in the parts of our hearts that have been surrendered to Him. The more sin that God is able to extract, the more places the Holy Spirit can fill. A person who is filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit is a person who has had a lot of sin pulled. When God exposes the dark parts of our hearts, He’s trying to secure more living space for His Spirit. So now when I feel God’s pruning shears coming, I can be ready with the knowledge that the painful procedure will be over soon, and the tender area will be generously soaked in God’s healing peace and presence.
“Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15.31 NIV).