Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you may prove what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2
I recently listened to a series of audio books I have read several times: C.S. Lewis’s trilogy – Out of the silent planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. The series is not, strictly speaking, allegorical. They are however, packed full of moral and spiritual insights. In the book Perelandra, we see a world where, like us, the Adam and Eve of that planet are faced with the dilemma of free will. A tempter comes from our world, possessed by an evil spirit, and attempts to convince the woman – who has been separated temporarily from her husband – to disobey God’s one command (the command itself is immaterial). However, another traveler from our world – A Christian – arrives with the mission to try to convince the woman to obey God’s command and resist the tempter. We see, through C.S. Lewis’s imagination, what a world without sin might have looked like once the evil is destroyed and the Eve of their world chooses NOT to disobey God. We see a “good, pleasing and perfect will” for their world realized in the happy ending of Perelandra.
Romans 8:28 tells us “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We serve a God who is so loving, so gracious, so merciful, and so kind; that He always works for our good. King David explained it this way: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Whatever path we take, He is pursuing us, lovingly calling to us, offering goodness and mercy. From our past mistakes, he teaches us. Through our tragedies, he comforts us. In our pain he molds us. I look back on my life and see God’s hand of kindness outstretched to me, following me… pursuing me. So many bad choices and decisions, causing myself and others pain and hurt… but all of this I can lay at His feet. He takes the broken pieces and makes something good. He takes from me the guilt and the shame. Like the woman caught in adultery, he sends my accusers away. He looks at me with perfect love and says… “Go, and sin no more.” What a freedom! What a glorious joy! To be forgiven and cleansed from ALL unrighteousness! But He doesn’t say “go ahead and keep sinning.” He doesn’t just want to set us free from the penalty of sin, but the bondage of sin. What He wants for us is “His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We know from Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In a moral sense, sin always equals death. Sin always kills something inside of us. I have been set free from the penalty of my sin. I have even been set free from the shame of my sin. But I still “regret” my sin. If I had saved myself for marriage instead of engaging in sinful sexual unions… If I had kept my mouth shut instead of spreading gossip, and bragging, and even lying… If I had asked God what He wanted me to do with my money instead of spending it on what I wanted… If I had showed kindness and compassion instead of looking the other way - these and so many other regrets I have. I am not ashamed of these mistakes, because He took my shame… “there is therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But going forward… I don’t just want God to take yet more of my mistakes and make something good. I want his good, pleasing and perfect will. I want to live whatever time I have left in the center of his will. May it be so by the grace and mercy of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit. May it be so in Jesus’ name. Amen