From the blog: Own your guilt and receive God’s grace

Own your guilt and receive God’s grace

James 4:6 says, “but he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble'” (ESV). To receive God’s forgiving grace, you must own your own sin; in this particular case, I’m referring to the sin of anger. We must not blame past or present circumstances. We are responsible. It is no innocent matter to obey selfish desires, to march to the beat of the world and its evil ruler, and to dethrone Almighty God. Our own hearts cause our anger (or any other sin for that matter).

Receiving God’s grace means owning your sin and refusing to shift blame upon someone else. To say, “I got angry because he yelled at me” is not the cause of the anger but rather the occasion of your anger. Consider the following:

She made me so angry.
My kids push my buttons.
The devil did a number on me.
I got my dad’s temper.
It’s not me but the alcohol talking.
I get this way every month because of PMS.

Each of those statements implies that we are passive victims or machines, subject to another person’s (or thing’s) control. But the Bible portrays and teaches that we are active moral agents – made in God’s image – responsible for our own behavior. We must not blame our family members, our friends, our genes, our parents, our church leaders, society, our hormones, or the devil for our anger (or any other sin).

What we should do is humble ourselves before God (James 4:6) and confess that our sin (anger, lust, pride, covetousness, discontentment, etc.) is our own, that arises from our idolatrous hearts. As we do this we (1) find God’s unending forgiveness and (2) God gives us more grace to enable us to live rightly.

Here’s an example of how this is to be done. A person needs to begin be identifying the ruling desire in their heart (I deserve this; I deserve to be treated this way; they simply need to see the logic and wisdom in my words; I deserve a time of relaxation, etc.). For instance, “I am angry now because I wrongly think that I must have a husband who ___________.” Then repent, not of the desire itself, but of the rulingness of the desire, of the way you have been letting that desire control your heart. Ask God for his forgiving and enabling grace. And consciously submit this desire to God’s sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom. Then consciously seek by prayer and meditation to look above it with a greater desire to know and love God, live out the implications of the cross, and serve others.

This post was taken from from Robert D. Jones book Uprooting Anger: Biblical Help For A Common Problem pages 70-71.

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