The last several days, I have been encouraging you to forgive that offense someone has committed against you. I am not at all trying to dismiss or even minimize the pain you are experiencing from that abuse, but simply explaining that our Lord experienced firsthand such abuse (and still experiences, even more abuse, today!) but amazingly while dying, He forgave those who were murdering him. Wow! I freely admit that I don’t understand how he did it, but he expects us to do that same thing!
Can you do that? Now, don’t be presumptuous and tell me, “Oh yes. I can do that!” Yeah? I don’t believe you. At least, not in your own strength. However, if you can sincerely tell me that because you have experienced such love and forgiveness, yourself, that you are able to in-turn offer that same forgiveness to everyone else, then I will believe you.
But here’s the thing, we know that our God loves us. I mean, everybody knows that. However, that is precisely the problem we have whenever we try to relate to our God: He loves everybody, indiscriminately, even the people that will suffer Hell. He loves all of them!
Wow! That is pretty amazing . . . but let’s be honest, who needs love like that? The real question is not whether God loves us, but whether He approves of us, whether we please Him. I guarantee you this, if we are not pleasing to Him, He will never be pleasing to us!
I’m serious! Why should we like someone who is forever condemning us? On the other hand, are we able to imagine what it would be like to so move and excite the heart of our God that He would run to meet us, throw His arms around us and kiss us, dress us in His best robe, and put rings on our fingers? Can we picture the Lord Almighty killing a fattened calf for us and throwing a big party in our honor? Can we imagine having the Creator of the universe say to us, just as He said to Jesus, “You are my son, and you are my delight”?
Yes? No? I mean, if we can’t imagine being, as Jesus was and the Scripture claims we are, beyond reproach in the eyes of our God, all our faith is useless. If we can’t get past the thought of His criticism and into His favor — if we can’t be good friends with Him — then what is the point of our religion?
Well, the secret to our faith seems, to begin with, a solid grasp of the fact that being blameless, is not quite the same as being guiltless. If someone is guiltless, it simply means that he has done nothing wrong. However, if someone is blameless, it means something more mysterious: it means that no matter how horrible his offenses may have been, all the charges against him have been dropped. Absolutely no blame attaches to him because the very one he offended has exonerated him. In the words of Psalm 32:2,
“Blessed is the person whom Yahweh no longer accuses of sin.”
Once the reality of that sinks in, we will burst out and do a little “happy dance”! Our God’s covenant with us in His Christ is not that He will prevent us from ever committing a sin, but rather that He will forgive us when we do sin. He will be faithful in forgiveness. Our part is simply to believe this — that is to be blameless not so much in our outward conduct (though obviously, we strive for this also), but in our faith, our trust in the Lord’s faithfulness! As Paul explained, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified!” If we are blameless in this respect, then all the credit for our righteousness is plainly not ours but the Lord’s, who, as Jude assures us, is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault!
You see, a person is either righteous or not. You cannot be a “little bit” righteous any more than you can be a “little bit” pregnant. Your sin is forgiven (including not just sinful behavior but the innate sinfulness of the heart) or it is not. If our God accepts us at all, He accepts us wholeheartedly and he covers us completely with the spotless robe of righteousness. This robe of divine acceptance doesn’t come in gray, but only in dazzling white, and you either have the robe or not. You are either righteous or wicked. Anyone who is wicked can have that status quickly amended by a trip to the cross.
So, with everything we have learned this past week, this is what we need to grasp! We need to fully understand and accept unswervingly, without question, hesitation or doubt that our God — our Father God — loves and accepts us! And we can, as the Psalmist observed, “Those who love Your law have great peace; Nothing can offend them” (Psalm 119:165)
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add youm—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.