Returning home from shopping, I uttered the words that my son desperately dreaded hearing,
“Please try on these clothes to see if they’ll fit.”
After several attempts to thwart the option of obedience, he gave in begrudgingly and walked with drooped shoulders to his room. Two minutes later he reappeared looking a little bit like the Michelin man – bigger and bulkier than he’d ever looked before. My head cocked.
“Did you put the new clothes on top of the ones you already had on?”
He replied with such bold, loud glee that it made me question my entire parenting skill set. One arm and fist were held straight in the air above his head.
“Honey, you have to take off your old clothes before you put on the new ones!”
Dejected, he complied. Slowly. Can we be like that? When conviction hits, we can droop our shoulders and obey slowly, if at all. Our sin can feel so comfortable and familiar that we grate at its exposure because we know its removal follows. We become experts at layering the godly on top of what’s ungodly. Like Adam and Eve, we convince ourselves that covering our ungodliness is an equally viable solution to replacing it (Gen 3:7).
How does this look practically? We bury the bad things by doing more good things. The theologically minded can drown out conviction by learning more theology. The hospitable can lessen conviction by having more people over. In a multitude of shapes and forms, we soothe the conviction of sin by layering on more lukewarm bulk – more serving, more generosity, more fill-in-the-blank. Slowly over time, it becomes easier to forget the unconfessed burdens that lay beneath the good appearances. The bulky layers of covering and burying sin become their own burden to confess. What do you need to “put off” today?
“But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:20-24, ESV).”