Today we will begin to look at the second of our three key truths that lead to the blessings of the Higher Christian Life. As we have learned, the first truth declares you must believe God is able (He possesses the power and ability) to keep you from falling or faltering in your life of holiness (Jude 24). And once God’s ability is firmly settled in your mind, the second truth takes the first one and makes it personal. The second truth states you must remove from your mind all doubt and fear that He is not willing to keep you from stumbling. That’s right. Now the first truth must be applied to your life in a personal way. It is no longer about what God can do for others. It is about what God can do for you. And this is where many falter. We believe God is able to bless anyone He wants at any time He wants, but just not for us. We even believe He is willing to bless His children, but again, just not us. And as strange as it may sound, this is like wondering if God loves you as much as you love Him? Which is both absurd and incredibly sad. Let me explain.
Sometimes there are children of God (Rom. 8:16) who feel so bad about themselves they cannot conceive of anyone, including God, loving them as much as they long for. They walk with their heads down, depressed, unsure, insecure, often filled with self-loathing. And, although there are many reasons for them to feel this way (an abusive home life, fractured relationships, a dysfunctional family, rejection, betrayal, etc.), for the Christian, it usually stems from their unwillingness to forgive themselves for their sins in the past and the paralyzing guilt they often suffer from. For some reason, their sins or failures loom larger than the grace and forgiveness of God. And this unhealthy mindset often is why they mentally shun any idea of God loving or forgiving them, and they reject any attempt He makes to do so.
Quite honestly, this spiritual disease is far more widespread than you would think.
Let’s think about forgiveness for a moment.
One of the Christian faith’s key tenets is the offer of God to forgive our sins (past, present, and future) due to the sacrifice of His Son and our simple faith in Him. Jesus did all the work to secure our forgiveness and erase the guilt and consequences of our sins, and all we have to do is believe. It’s like winning the lottery with a ticket someone gave you.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2:4-7.
There is no downside.
When we sin against someone, there are usually three people we need to ask for their forgiveness. The first is God. And, according to His Word, His forgiveness is instant and complete with no hidden fine print (1 John 1:9). In fact, He goes a step further and chooses to no longer remember our sins (Isa. 43:25), but also removes them as far as “the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12). This is forever, with no North or South poles.
The next one we need to ask for their forgiveness is the person we have hurt. And, as fallen humans, they will either forgive us or not. This is their choice, and there is nothing we can do about it. It is out of our hands. We will either be blessed to have that relationship restored or live with the consequences of our sins. Our job is to simply humble ourselves and ask and leave the results to God.
But the final one we need to ask for forgiveness is ourselves. That’s right, the mug we look at every day in the mirror. And here is where it gets sticky. Often, we freely accept the forgiveness of God and are blessed when the person we have offended forgives us, but then we defiantly refuse to forgive ourselves. How is that possible? We often think:
“What I did was so bad I don’t deserve forgiveness. So I’ll just mope around and feel bad forever for what I have done. And that will somehow make me feel better about myself.” Ya, think?
“Just asking for forgiveness is too easy and I don’t deserve to get off so lightly. So I’ll just punish myself by being sad for the next twenty years to somehow make myself feel worthy of God’s forgiveness.”
“You know, if I were God, I would never forgive me. So, I won’t. He must be a big ‘ol softy to forgive someone like me for what I did. He needs to be more strict like I am with myself. So I’ll keep beating myself up for something God has already forgotten, and that will make me feel closer to Him.”
Does this make any sense to you? Yet it plays out all the time in our life. For example, when you believe God is able to allow His children to experience the blessings of the Higher Christian Life, but don’t believe He will do that for you, what does that say about Him? Are you not imputing motives to Him as a Father that we would consider abuse today? Often the reason is we feel so unworthy or suffer from such self-unforgiveness that we have to somehow justify why we don’t believe God will treat us as good as He does His other children. Which is a terrible thing to say about an earthly father, let alone God. In essence, we believe we love God more than He loves us. And you and I both know that is not possible.
Remember who you are in Him.
The Spirit Himself (who lives in you) bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17).
Again, it’s like winning the lottery with a ticket we didn’t pay for. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Today, commit to believing that what God says of all of His children, He also says for you. He is more than willing to keep you from stumbling, like He does all His children, in your pursuit of the Higher Christian Life of holiness (Jude 24). So rejoice in how He sees you as His beloved.
Until He Comes,