We talked last about the difference between His chastening and His wrath. We understood that He will discipline us, and it might be painful, but it is because He loves us, not because He hates us or treats us like enemies. Therefore we can find peace in chastening, learn to trust Him and to obey Him quickly because He is keeping us from worse harm. He disciplines us because we are His children and He loves us.
Now, what about those feelings of condemnation that seem to hover over us? Again, some people don’t ever feel that. But if you are one who does, it is a burdensome, terrible thing, isn’t it? You feel like every step is a misstep, everything is “wrong”. You feel like you will never get it right, that you try so hard and you keep failing! You might even go to your prayers and feel like you are guilty for something and have no idea what you did that was wrong.
Now, we know that we are sinning with fear. We will cover that more later. However, I am not talking about the “I know what I am doing wrong, I know the sin I am committing.” type of guilt. I am talking about that type of condemnation, that almost audible voice in your ear that says “You are not good enough. He cannot possibly forgive you. Look at what a mess you have made…”. That is the enemy, and his plan is to keep you from receiving the blessing from the Lord, the peace, forgiveness and joy that the Lord has for you. The enemy wants you to refuse the Lord’s blessing! You love the Lord, so you will not reject the Lord outright. However, the enemy knows that he can play on your guilt so that you reject every blessing that the Lord tries to give you. You will not reject the Lord…but you might reject His power and glory and grace in your life. When you do that your relationship will be weak and you will be vulnerable.
Remember our story about gift giving: you might love someone—maybe a child or a spouse or a friend. But what if they rejected every opportunity to be close to you? What if they said “I love you but I do not deserve to be with you, so I am going to go somewhere else.”? What if every time you tried to give them a gift, they said “I don’t deserve it, take it back.”? What if you tried to tell them “Look, I know you are not perfect. I know that you mess up, but I love you! I want to be with you and help you and spend time with you!” and they said “No no no…you cannot possibly mean that. I am too bad/worthless for you to want to be with me.”. Not only would you be upset and hurt, but that person would be deliberately rejecting the very thing they need—love and companionship with you. They want it, you want it, but they reject it because of insecurity or self-condemnation.
Now, again, that is not a noble way to be! It is not noble for us to tell the Lord “Oh no…You cannot possibly mean me to be blessed…I am too bad…”, and then you turn your face away in shame and cry yourself to sleep. That is not humility, that is rejecting the Lord. You do not mean to, I know that! But it is rejecting His blessings that He has for you. It is not nobility, it is rejection of the Lord.
Humility goes like this “Lord, I know that I am a sinner, and yet You love me! You bless me even though I do not deserve it! You know that I am a sinner and You love me! You forgive me! You shower blessings and love upon me! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I praise Your name forever!”.
You know what? You and I are both sinners. Yep, we got that. Everyone knows that. God knows that. The Bible is very clear that anyone who breaks any bit of the law is guilty of breaking all of it. That means that there are no “better sinners” and “worse sinners”. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. NKJV
So you see, no one deserves the blessings of the Lord. You don’t, I don’t, a murderer doesn’t, Mother Teresa doesn’t. We all have fallen short of the glory of God.
Think of it this way. Imagine there is a train called Perfection. It goes straight to heaven. If you are perfect, you get to get on that train.
However, no one is perfect So we all miss the train. Some by a minute, some by a mile, some by a year. It does not matter how much you miss it by because we are all going to be standing at that station, all having missed the train. We would sound ridiculous if we try to brag “Well, I only missed it by a second…I could feel the wind of it brush my cheek”. We also can’t say “Sigh…..I am so bad that I missed it by….what year is it anyway? How long has the train been gone?”.
The Lord specifically does not want us to boast (see the passage from Romans above). We are all on level ground—having missed the Perfection Train to heaven.
That is why we have Jesus. He brings the train back into the station for us. We could not call the train back, but He did with His sacrifice. He helps us on that train with His hand that still bears the marks of the nails from the cross. Each one who lifts their arms up to Him, He lifts onto the train, just like a father would lift their child up on a step too high for the child to reach, just as we cannot reach perfection.
That is grace. You did not earn it. None of us did. He just gives it to us. That is what makes it perfect and wonderful. That is what makes Him worthy of our praise. He knows us, knows every sin you have committed and will ever commit, and still offers you grace, blessing, joy, peace, love, kindness, and mercy.
That also means that you have no right to tell God whom He may or may not offer it to, right? You know that you are not allowed to say “Well don’t offer her grace, or don’t bless him.”. Of course not. You know that.
You have no right to tell Him He cannot offer blessing to me……..and you have no right to tell Him that He cannot offer blessing to YOU! I am not any better or worse than you are. We are both just sinful people. Therefore you cannot put yourself above me, but you cannot put me above yourself either. The grace is for all of us equally.
It does not make sense. That’s ok. Just accept it and praise Him. No one is more grateful and full of praise than a sinner who knows they are a sinner and also knows that they are forgiven. Nothing can top that. Right now you know you are a sinner, but you do not feel that deep, full feeling of gratitude that makes you want to jump for joy, to shout His name from the rooftops, and to dedicate your life to Him without a second thought.
Right now, dear one, do not argue with Him why you do not deserve grace. Just accept it. Accept every wonderful blessing that you do not deserve but that He gives you anyway.
It is right to accept it!
Do not reject Him, PRAISE HIM!
Do not reject His gifts, THANK HIM FOR THEM!
That is what He wants from you. He does not want you to hide from Him, but to run to Him like a little child who just got the best present ever. Not only will it bless you, whom He really, truly loves, not only will it bring glory to Him because you will thank Him, but it will also lead others to Him, which is really our calling on this earth, right? Right!