I'd like to take a different take on this "indwelling sin" discussion. We all think we know what God is like and what works best, but if we are truly honest - all we have to go on is our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God and also our experiences as a child. And maybe there is a reason why Jesus said to His disciples; "Unless you become like a child ...". So I took a trip down memory lane and started to think about the many, many times that I was disciplined, told-off, spanked and so on by my parents.
I should add my parents came from the school of thought that you "spare the rod and spoil the child".
So the numerous times that I was spanked, shouted at and generally told off tends to blur for me and doesn't particularly stand out to me. The one caveat is the times that I was punished unjustly when my parents got it wrong. For some reason as children my family all grew up with a rigorous sense of justice - and there was NOTHING that upset us more than the feeling of being treated unjustly. I guess that has still stuck with me - as some church leaders who have "got it wrong" should know!
However ... parents can react in different ways too. And I don't think any grown-up child will disagree if I say that there is nothing more stunning and breath-taking than to see your parent weep over you or your actions. I have seen it rarely that I recall - but the times I have I can recall vividly.
I remember my greatest hero Ern Baxter speaking about a time when as a teenage rebel he came in early in the morning after a wild night out and he saw a light still on under his Grandmother's bedroom door (who lived with him and his parents at the time). He stopped curiously to see why she was awake and heard a soft weeping from her room and heard her praying and interceeding for Ern and his soul. Ern recalled this story probably some 60 or so years later so it obviously stayed with him.
The second piece of evidence I want to give is a prophetic song that I've posted before. It was sung by Rob Rufus in Hong Kong during a special Miracle weekend that City Church was holding. When I first heard the song it made me weep - but more for the vision and passion for the city of Hong Kong. I'm home alone at my parent's in Bristol (they're out at some church function thing) - and I happened to listen to it again. And it was the "Father's heart" that stuck out to me. The words of the song are breath-taking! This is GOD ALMIGHTY - speaking as a Father.
Here is the video (it's not great quality - so the words are underneath);
"For I'm turning the hearts of the fathers to the sons,
I'm turning the hearts of the sons to the fathers.
I'm turning the hearts of My people towards Me,
I'm turning the hearts away from things of death.
And I'm turning the hearts to the ways of truth and life,
Yes I'm turning the hearts to My Presence alive!
In My Presence - with your hearts turn to Me, you will hear My voice - so clear and so true, today! Today! TODAY!
Turn your hearts to Me - turn away from misery!
Turn away from unbelief! Turn away from every offence!
Turn away from all bitterness and turn to Me your God!".
I would imagine there is nothing more hurtful and frustrating to a parent (not being one myself) than having a child with a victim-mentality who will not allow you to come near them but winces if you try to hug them or hold them or give them a kiss. Maybe this is something that adoptive parents may experience with a child from an abusive biological family.
Is there really much difference if God has stated; "I am NOT holding your sins against you for I have seen My justice is satisfied because My Son took the punishment for ALL your sins in YOUR place - I have only passion and love and happiness and adoration in My heart for you" - and our response? To sing mournful hymns about being "little worms" and staying deliberately out of His Presence until we feel we have paid penance for our "sins"?
Being in my parents house alone - I sat and listened for a bit at the lit bedroom door of heaven. I feel it's been far too long since I have wrapped myself in the warm embrace of my heavenly Father and I wondered what He is saying about me. I heard soft weeping - just like Ern Baxter's grandma - and I heard something like this;
"Why? Why won't he see that he is feeling rubbish and condemned about nothing? I have put his mistakes and sins as far from Me as the east is from the west. I have chosen to obliterate them from My mind beecause they were obliterated 2000 years ago when You held open Your arms and bled and died for him. Why can't he see that? Why is he letting the lies of the devil through church take him from Me and the love I want to shower upon him? He winces and fears I will hit him or look sorrowfully upon him but all I want to do is wrap him in my arms and love him as a true Father should! When will he realise? When?".
As Terry Virgo put it so well;
"The Cross amazes me and fills me with wonder and worship, praise and thanksgiving! To insist on still calling myself a sinner could not add value to the Cross for me. Indeed, to call myself essentially a sinner actually dishonours the wonder of the gospel".
I may have made many mistakes in my life - some mistakes the church would suggest would disqualify me from ever enjoying fellowship with God again. But I don't intend to let unbelief and unnecessary condemnation keep me from wrapping myself in my Father's arms any longer. Dishonouring the Gospel is one sin I would rather not have to explain when I get to heaven by persisting in calling myself; "the worst of sinners" when Jesus and Jesus alone took that upon Himself 2000 years ago!