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Christ died so we could be justified. We have all our sins forgiven. He has made us new creatures in our union with Christ, and now God sees us like we had never sinned or had a sin nature. This change allows us to come home to the Father, where we stay forever. God never kicks us out.
Now, as wonderful as this is, I still had a nagging question: Why couldn’t I trust these truths about me? Why couldn’t I settle into God’s love and stay there? What happens to me when I sin again, which I do all the time? Does God stop loving me? Is he disappointed in me? Does he pull out my picture from his wallet and tear it up?
I asked the Lord these questions recently, and this is what the Holy Spirit brought to mind:
If God held even one of my sins against me, he’d be declaring the blood of his Son to be insufficient to cover and blot out that sin. God can never go back on his Word because then he’d be saying his Son’s sacrifice was not good enough, that there was something lacking that I would have to make up for. And he cannot do that. It cost the Father everything to send Jesus to the cross where all of God’s wrath for sin and sinners was poured out on him. The Father crushed Jesus for me. Everything I deserved from God’s hands was put on Jesus. How then could God hold any sin against me?
Not believing this with my whole heart is the greatest sin. It reeks of unbelief. My flesh wants to participate in self-salvation strategies. It wants to contribute to my salvation. It wants me to despair, fear and struggle. It delights in doubt.
But faith says otherwise. The greatest act of faith is to believe God and the Son he has sent! He is the solution to our estrangement from God. He is the answer to our love problems. The longing of our heart is fulfilled in accepting what the Father says of us – we are his beloved children.
Talk to me.
Jesus has removed your burden of striving for God’s approval. He has taken away your self-help attempts of winning God’s love. You don’t have to clean yourself up to be presentable and acceptable to God. The world wrestles with that. It battles guilt and shame and an over-burdened conscience of law keeping, whether it’s one of its own making, or the real list of moral commands from the bible.
There are really only two camps to be in: the one of self-effort, like a gymnasium, full of sweat and exertion, or the one of surrender because you can’t conform to any of it.
There is more hope of finding the gospel in the camp of the dejected than in the camp of the proud.
Today, if you find yourself feeling hopeless, you’re in a good place. It means you know you don’t have the answers or the strength for living life well.
None of us do. It just takes some of us longer to realize it than others.
Jesus lived life well for you.
He obeyed God for you.
He loved God with all his mind, heart, will and strength for you.
He served God perfectly for you.
He also paid the price for your sins on the cross.
He was the Perfect Man who was well pleasing to God.
And if you believe in him, then God has given you his Son’s perfect record as your own.
That means when God looks at you he sees you as never having sinned, ever, and as never having had a sin nature.
He only sees Jesus in you.
You need joy today? Read this post again!
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The essential mark of a Christian is love. Love for Christ, church members, neighbors, family, authorities and people who don’t know the Lord yet.
But let’s be honest. We don’t do this very well.
I don’t. You don’t.
Why do I say this with such confidence?
Because we are lovers of ourselves first. I prefer myself over you, and I suspect the same is true of you.
Unfortunately we deceive ourselves into thinking we love better than we do, and our friends will do everything they can to convince us we’re doing okay.
Try this experiment next time you’re in a group: Say something that lowers yourself in your own eyes, like, “I wasn’t very patient with my mother the other day.” Then wait for people’s responses. Several will try to rescue you from your low-self esteem. Why? Because if they didn’t attempt the rescue operation they would have to face their own lack of love for others.
We settle for half-hearted attempts. Listening with half an ear; putting off calling that pesky friend who talks too much; holding on to revenge because the person who hurt you still hasn’t admitted it.
Our hearts are deceitful and compromised by the world, the flesh and the devil. If one doesn’t cause us to trip, the other will. Maybe all three at the same time.
And the biggest trap we fall into is looking inside our hearts to find those evidences of love, good feelings and caring.
Except that’s the wrong direction.
Nothing good resides there.
Love must come from the outside. Not as a sensational feeling that sweeps us off our feet, but in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are members of his body and united to him. Love flows down from him to us and then out to our neighbor.
That’s why the apostle Paul exhorts us to put on Christ. Not once or twice but everyday.
What does that look like?
It’s realizing his love is 100% perfect and it’s ours as a gift.
It’s being grateful that he loved perfectly when he was here on earth and his perfect record God has been put into our account.
From God’s perspective, we love perfectly because it’s Christ’s love he sees there.
From our perspective, we live a life of transparency before the Lord, where no secrets are tolerated. We no longer give ourselves permission to sin. We throw out old grudges and hatred and forgive the other person, a hundred times if we have to.
It reveals how much we need Christ, which is exactly where we need to be. It’s confessing our sins and admitting our inadequacy. “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
And what does God think of this display of lowliness?
Take a look.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
‘I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite'”. – Isaiah 57:15 ESV
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If you think the bible is about good people doing wonderful things for God, you ought to read it sometime!
The fact is, the bible is about a wonderful God doing good things for bad people.
The only good guys in the bible are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Everybody else is bad.
That includes you and me.
“There is none righteous, no not one.” – Romans 3:10
The truth is not a single soul can stand before God and say, “I’ve done my best.”
We haven’t done our best, not even on our good days.
If God is going to save us and use us and make something of us, He’s going to have to do it in spite of ourselves. Not because we read the bible every day; not because we give thanks before every meal; not because we never miss church; and not because we try to be good parents, friends and neighbors.
We are promise breakers, we’re not people of integrity, and we don’t measure up to our own standards let alone God’s.
We need a God for failures.
And that’s exactly what we have.
Jesus Christ joined the human race so he could become our substitute.
He lived the life we should have lived, obeying every one of God’s commands from the heart.
That means he won God’s favor and secured a place in heaven for us.
His righteousness was charged to our accounts, so that we with all our sins and failures are declared righteous.
What happened to our sin?
God charged it to Jesus’s account, he absorbed the penalty, and died in our place on the cross.
It’s all paid for.
We stand forgiven and accepted because of the work of our Savior.
Talk to me.
Have you asked yourself, “What is faith and how do I know if I have it?”
So often we confuse faith with feelings and when we do that, we’re in trouble.
Faith is a steady belief in Christ and the work of salvation he accomplished on the cross for you.
Feelings, on the other hand, change like the weather. One minute you’re happy, the next you’re upset.
1) Your spiritual life is a work of God. You didn’t produce it and you don’t maintain it. See Ephesians 2: 8-10
2) Faith is your spiritual DNA. Abraham is your father by faith and you inherit all his promises. See 1 John 3:9
3) Faith is life from the dead. God’s work in you, not what you do for God. If you think you roused yourself from the dead I’d like to talk to you! See Ephesians 2: 1-4
4) Faith sees beyond what is seen physically to the unseen that’s coming. And what’s coming defies imagination. See Hebrews 11:1
5) Faith is strengthened by your trials. Nobody is exempt. Examples abound: Abraham and Sarah without a child, Hannah without a son, Moses delivering the Israelites from Egypt, Esther interceding for her people, David fighting Goliath, Daniel in the lion’s den, and Mary pregnant before marriage. See Genesis 17:15-21; Genesis 14; Esther 4: 13-17; 1 Samuel 17; Daniel 6; Matthew 1:18-25.
6) Faith glorifies God. It pleases God to strengthen your faith. See Romans 5:1-5
7) Faith justifies sinners. It’s the only means by which you can be saved. See Romans 4:5
No matter what you’re facing right now, know that God has his hand on you, he sees you, knows your every circumstance, and you can rely on him to take you through your trials just like he did Abraham, Moses, Esther, David, Daniel and Mary.
They were in good hands and so are you.
Talk to me.
How often are you disgusted with your life of faith?
If you’re like me, very often.
I seem to live in unbelief more than in faith.
Even as a Christian I live my life as if God didn’t exist.
I don’t take him at his Word.
I’m impatient waiting for the fulfillment of his promises.
I’m so far away from rejoicing in his goodness and faithfulness it’s disgusting.
The stunning fact is that while God hates sin and grieves over the suffering we endure in our lives, he is not angry at us!
He doesn’t hold grudges, he doesn’t bring up the past, and he certainly doesn’t abandon us to figure things out on our own when we’re at our worst.
How can I say this?
Because of the gospel, of course.
Think theologically with me for a moment.
Does God have any negative emotions towards Jesus? Does he get fed up, exasperated and lose patience with him? Does he get angry and walk away?
Absolutely not. God has nothing but delight and love for his Son. He adores him.
And God delights and adores you and me, even when we sin!
Jesus paid for those sins. God doesn’t see them anymore. He has wrapped us in the glowing white robes of his Son’s perfection. We are united to him in all that he is, and Jesus’s perfect record of faith and patience and obedience is now ours.
God’s scandalous love in Jesus makes us dance and sing, even in our weakness and failure and sin!
Soak your heart in this truth today.
Talk to me.