[From the archives.]
Boosting Cars, Smoking Dope
When our kids were young, my wife insisted on never telling them they were a good little boy or good little girl. You see, my wife knows what Jesus said in Mark 10:19 – “No one is good—except God alone.” We didn’t go around telling them they were worthless and wicked, of course. We often had the occasion to praise and encourage their good behavior, but none of those behaviors made them good.
As our son and daughter entered their teens, people would sometimes ask how the kids were. My usual response was, “Well, they’re not out boosting cars and smoking dope, so we’re doing OK.”
But you know what? Even if they were acting badly – or perhaps I should say when they acted badly – one thing remained true, real and unchangeable: they were still our kids. No matter how they act, good or bad, we’re always going to be their parents and they’re always our kids.
The Parent with Eternally Constant Love
Have you ever passed judgment on yourself like this?
“I’m a horrible child of God.”
If you have, or anything remotely like it, let me clue you in to something.
You are not a disappointment to him, you are not displeasing to him and you are not a horrible child of God.
You are a beloved child, saved by his wonderful and extravagant grace, a grace that he showered on his people because he wanted to.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:8-11.)
Let’s break that down.
- God decided to reconcile you to himself when you were still dead in your sins.
- Christ loves you so much that he gave his life for you.
- You are not now nor will you ever again be under God’s wrath.
Later, in Romans 8:1, Paul made it abundantly clear:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Do you see the word “no” in the middle of that verse? Here’s what it means in the original Greek:
It can’t be any clearer. The only one who has any right or authority to condemn you has eternally chosen not to.
Stop Playing God
Some people in God’s family still condemn themselves, though, and I have a question for them: Who are you to play God?
Satan is the one who accuses God’s people. (Zechariah 3:1.)
Accusing yourself, then, means you have fallen for one of Satan’s trick. But because you are in Christ, the wonderful news is that Jesus himself advocates for us. (1 John 2:1.)
He doesn’t accuse us, he doesn’t condemn us, but instead he stands up for us. That’s what our brother, the firstborn of God’s family, does for us.
The bottom line is this: you are an eternally beloved and eternally pleasing child of God no matter what you do. The reason for this is because God’s pleasure in you doesn’t depend on you but on Jesus and what he has already done for you. If your past, present or future sins made a difference in how God views you, then Christ’s work would not be sufficient to remove God’s wrath from your life.
But it is. Finished, done, accomplished, past tense. And because of that, we never need to feel as if we should hide from God. Instead, because of the finished work of Jesus:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16.)
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12.)
It’s all true, and it’s all by God’s grace.