God’s forgiveness is total…God loves you. He is not up there in heaven with a book of “today she did this bad thing…today she did this good thing…” He is portrayed that way, but that is not correct. The Bible tells us that those who are in Jesus are blameless in the sight of God.
Colossians 1:21-23 (NIV)
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
There is nothing that we can do other than to accept the sacrifice of Jesus which will save us from our sin. It is Jesus plus nothing for our salvation. Faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection from the dead are what saves us….
Another way to put this is: if you are in a restaurant and you go to pay the bill and you are told. The bill has already been taken care of in full. What are you going to do? Are you going to reject that someone has already paid your bill and insist on paying it again yourself?!! Of course not!! The thing is we do this all the time when it comes to Jesus. He paid the bill for our sin, yet we are still running around in life trying to “be good enough” and “do enough good things” to make up for our bad things, our sins.
Why are we doing this? Isn’t it rather insulting to both Jesus’ sacrifice, and to God, himself? We are being awfully full of ourselves to be thinking that we are capable of paying our own bill, don’t you think?! We don’t even fully understand what all is even on the bill, yet. Much less have the capacity to take care of it.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
There are so many things that we have done which, if we understood them, we would be so upset that we had done them. We don’t even understand all of the harm we have caused to others in our lives…there are so many day to day things that God covers us from seeing about ourselves in order to protect us from the burden. Basically, if we were to smell all of our sins…we would not be able to stand the smell of ourselves. We could not handle knowing all that we have done wrong all at once. God asks us to seek him and know him, and then, in love, reveals the things that we have done wrong as needed for our correction in drawing closer to him.
The worst of our sin is when we say to ourselves, “Well, at least I am not like that person over there…I am better than they are…at least I am not that bad!” I tell you that is called judging and condemning. We are not qualified to ring out judgement on other people or be condemning of them.
We do not have such a pure and clean nature that God does have…we cannot handle judging someone correctly and justly because we are not pure of heart…Mankind was not designed to judge. The job that Adam was given in the garden was “caretaker” not “judge”. Yes, we are designed in the image of God, but we are not perfect….we are not God….we cannot read the person’s heart in front of us. We are all looking at the person in front of us from our own perspective…not from God’s perspective. God’s perspective will always be from the position of knowing the person’s heart and everything about them. We can never know everything about a person. Even if they tell us, we still don’t know everything.
I mean, come on, we even surprise ourselves at times, don’t we?!! If we are capable of surprising ourselves, then that means we don’t even fully know ourselves…how can we not understand that this means we don’t fully know another person, either.
God knows each and every one of us, totally and completely. He knows the pains and heartaches of each of us. He knows what motivates us. He knows when we are doing things in rebellion to him. He knows when we are doing things that are self-centered. He knows when we are doing the right things and the wrong things…he knows when we are doing things in innocence and in ignorance. God knows us totally, and the great thing is that God also LOVES US TOTALLY! Isn’t that amazing?!!
God always has the goal of having us be back in reconciliation with him and for us to after being reconciled be doing the work of bringing others to be reconciled to God through the work of Jesus the Christ. God is FOR US! God is NOT AGAINST US!
We need to stop acting like God is against us and that we have to do it all on our own. He sent Jesus to die to atone for our sins and reconcile us to him because he is FOR US! He sent Jesus to tell us how to be reconciled and to show us the way home to God. Jesus did not simply come to make sure that you get into heaven….that is only part of it. Jesus came “to show the way.”
John 14:6 New International Version (NIV)
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The way that Jesus has shown us is the way of “love” and “understanding”.
Read Ephesians chapter 4
Ephesians 4 New International Version (NIV)
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it[a] says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”[b]
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions[c]? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Instructions for Christian Living
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work,doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Have you ever known a person to change their behavior and draw closer to God because someone came at them and started telling them about how bad their behavior is?
I mean, how effective do you think it is to go up to someone and say, “Are you born again? Do you know if you are not born again..you are going to hell! God is going to send you to hell for the way you are living!”
How many people do you think turn their hearts toward God when someone says something like this to them? Anyone? Usually, the person saying this is not someone who actually knows the person they are talking to at all. They are just bent on their own agenda of sharing the gospel with anyone and everyone! They probably don’t even understand what is wrong with how they are sharing it….the intimidation that comes across to the person who has to hear this! Usually, the person who is asked this question just wants to get as far away from the person saying it as possible, as quickly as possible! I know this because I was put in this position as a high school student by some woman who was having her car washed at our band fund raiser! It just felt like she was attacking me…there was no love in her tone at all!
We need to on all accounts share the gospel in a loving manner…we should not beat people over the head with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit! The easiest thing in the world in sharing the gospel is to just share in regular conversation your experience. You listen to the Holy Spirit and you will start over time to understand when there is an opening to share the “good news” of the gospel with someone who is receptive. Simply seek to bring God into the room with you in the conversation…if the person cuts you off, then don’t stress out and get upset. Simply change the subject and be loving and friendly toward them. God is still working on them…God is outside of time, he does not have time constraints…he knows the plan he has for each one of us…to prosper us and not harm us.
Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
We just need to have faith in God’s plans for us and for others. We have no idea how many people will have to bring up the gospel to a person before that person will decide to accept that gospel…each of us may just be a sentence here and a sentence there, then one day the person brings all the sentences in their life together and realizes through the work of the Holy Spirit….”Aha! So this is God calling me to repent and turn back into relationship with him! I definitely want to do that! I wish I had understood this a long time ago! I wasted so much time that I could have been spending with the Good Lord!”
We will be celebrating with the heavenly beings when each person is saved…that is one of the most awesome things about being a Christian….we can participate in the reconciliation of others with God….through the work of the Holy Spirit. Not through anything we, ourselves, are doing…no one is ever saved through the work of a person. We are jars of clay that are fragile and thus because we are fragile…the work of the Holy Spirit can shine through the cracks into the darkness!
2 Corinthians 4:7-10 English Standard Version (ESV)
Treasure in Jars of Clay
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.