Some strong, but ever-so-timely words from the late John Murray (1898-1975) regarding the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers:
“If we find ourselves at home in the ungodliness, lust, and filth of this present world, it is because we have not been called effectually by God’s grace.” (John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p.92)
What is effectual calling? The Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q.31) defines it as “the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convicting us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.”
So in other words, if we (to use Murray’s phrase) still “find ourselves at home in the ungodliness, lust, and filth of this present world” it shows that the Holy Spirit has not worked in us to convict us of our sin and misery. Sinners who are “at home” in sin do not perceive the sinfulness of sin. Sinners who are “at home” in sin do not see it as the source of their misery.
And so Murray is also saying that being “at home” in sin is also evidence that one has not truly been enlightened in the knowledge of Christ, nor has he or she truly embraced Jesus Christ by faith as He is freely offered to us in the gospel. All this is to say that being “at home” in sin is evidence that one is not yet truly a believer in Christ at all.
Are you “at home” in sin? Then, simply put, you are not yet a Christian.
But there is a world of difference between being “at home” in sin (in other words, seeing nothing wrong with it, being quite comfortable in it), and being a believer who simply struggles with sin. Struggling with sin shows that one is convicted that it is, in fact, sin. Struggling with sin shows that one is convicted of the misery of sin.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and are struggling with sin, welcome to the club! You are in some pretty good company. Even the Apostle Paul himself struggled with sin! Look at his words in Romans 7:15-23 (ESV):
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Sound familiar? Feel familiar?
And what was his solution? Look at what he wrote in the next two verses:
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:24-25 ESV)
When you feel the weight of your struggle with sin, let that drive you all the more to Jesus Christ. Cling to Him by faith. Thanks be to God through Jesus our Lord, for He is the One who will deliver us from this body of death!