Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Ginger Hubbard about her new book, Guiltless Living. Ginger shows the courage of her faith as she is open about her walk with God. Her story will encourage women who want to live for Christ.
Here is the second part of the interview.
Q: Does guiltless living mean that we don’t engage in sin?
A: Whether we admit it or not, we are all serial sinners. We are told in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As sinners, we simply aren’t capable of keeping the commands of God. Does this mean we should throw up our hands in defeat and accept that we will always be serial sinners? Yes and no. It is true that no matter how hard we try, we can’t overcome our sinful status. However, the good news is that while we are serial sinners, we are found guiltless in that we are covered by the grace of God. The finality of the cross atoned for all of our sins (past, present and future).
Q: How does a false sense of self-worth lead to anxiety?
As women, we desire to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect friend, the perfect house keeper and the perfect everything. We compare ourselves to the woman described in Proverbs 31 and when we fall short, we become anxious and beat ourselves up spiritually and emotionally.
I remember reading about the Proverbs 31 woman on one particular morning. She got up before it was still dark. I had rolled out of bed around 8:30 am. She was obviously well dressed in fine linen and purple. I was in a baggy, terrycloth robe with my hair pulled up in an orange chip clip. She held the distaff while grasping the spindle with her fingers (not sure what those things are, but I’m certain they contributed to her noble character). I held the dust buster to vacuum crumbs off my bed sheets while grasping the unaccomplished to-do list from the day before. She provided good food for her family and was always on top of things. I offered a choice of Burger King or McDonalds and felt the weight of everything I still had to do crashing down on me. In short, I didn’t measure up and I felt anxious, defeated and disappointed in myself.
In measuring our self-worth in accordance with our own performances, we not only become anxious, but we miss out on experiencing the peace and rest of who we truly are in Christ. Our worth is not based on what we do or don’t do. It’s not based on our successes and failures. It’s not even based on whether we sin a little or sin a lot. Our worth is based solely on Christ and the atoning work He has done on our behalf.
Embracing this wonderful truth brings about freedom. It’s the freedom to forget about ourselves and lay down our measuring rods of self-worth and ongoing scrutiny. It’s the freedom to release the suffocating anxiety our weaknesses cause, and instead take hold of God’s grace given to us through the cross.
A: What is wrong with giving just a part of your life to God?
A: Among Christians, I believe there are some misconceptions as to what it means to “live in Christ”. We often hear statements such as, “I gave that area of my life to God,” or “I’m surrendering this part of my life to the Lordship of Christ.” But this mentality causes trouble because it implies that our lives are to be parceled out like tracts of real estate to give to God as we see fit. If we take apart these statements to evaluate what’s really being said, we find that they’re based on efforts from the natural self, which leads to the dangerous and slippery slope of self-reliance.
Lesley serves as one example. She “gave her cigarettes to God” during the weekend, but she reluctantly accepted one from her co-worker during lunch break on Monday. Lesley now feels like a failure as a Christian. Does God love Lesley less because she slipped and “took back” what she gave to God? Certainly not.
On the flip side, John, a recovering alcoholic, recently celebrated a successful year of abstinence. Now John feels that he meets one more qualification toward becoming a good Christian. Does God love John more now than he did a year ago when John was still struggling? Certainly not.
If good works do not win us favor with God, then it stands to reason that the sins that trip us up do not remove us from his favor. The more we understand the fullness of this grace-based love and acceptance, and the more we rest and invest at Calvary’s cross, the more we experience guiltless living. God doesn’t want areas of our lives. He wants our lives.
Q: How is trying not to sin and then beating yourself up when you do sin like self-atonement? Why is this so dangerous?
A: When we rely on our own efforts, our successes and failures become the measuring stick of our worth, and that flies in the face of God’s grace. To try and live a sinless life in our own strength is to be self-reliant, rather than Christ-reliant, which is dangerous territory for God’s children. It leads to measurements in pride and the natural self. The natural self shouldn’t be the starting point of our faith. The new life begins with dying to the natural self and burying attempts at righteousness. Whether we view them as failed attempts, which tend to leave us feeling defeated, or successful attempts, which tend to leave us feeling prideful, is not what matters. What matters is that we let go of the natural self completely and take hold of the new self, which is empowered through the death and resurrection of Christ.
The question is not “How can I live a righteous life without sinning?” The question is “How can I live more fully in Christ so that his righteousness comes forth in my life?”
Q: How do we truly experience Guiltless Living?
A: All that we need for guiltless living has been provided for us. The cure for sin is found in Christ. When we set our attention on the power of the atoning work of Jesus, our hearts become filled with his love for us and our love for him. Sin is then crucified. It weakens, becomes unattractive, and eventually loses its pull. It’s not that we focus on not sinning so much as it is that we focus on the glory and grace of God. And as our hearts become fully filled with God, there’s no room for sin. In other words, the resisting of sin is found by residing in Christ.
We want to purpose to live where the empowerment of Calvary is greater than the enticement of sin. However, when we do sin, and we will sin, we should not go about beating ourselves up. Guiltless living is experienced through accepting God’s forgiveness through the atoning work of Christ.