Is it just me, or do people in general really like to make things complicated? Its like we can’t handle simplicity. I remember when I could turn on my TV by pressing one button, and now I have to recruit my 9 year-old to help me figure out which remote to even use. And I’m not sure when my phone got smarter than I am, but I’m sure I don’t even use half the features on that thing. Somehow we got the idea that complicated is better, and honestly, sometimes it is. But I think we’ve taken the gospel, which is really pretty simple, and we’ve managed to make it complicated too. I know I did. I turned it into a list of rules to follow and things to do and prayers to pray. And even though I thought I was living under grace, I was still focusing on what I needed to do to get “closer to God.” I was striving for more of Him because I was feeling unsatisfied, and I thought praying and fasting and reading books would get me where I needed to be. In John 6:35, Jesus said “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” God pointed out to me one day that Jesus is IN ME. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but I never really focused on it before. Colossians 3:3 says “for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Jesus is in me and I am in Him, and Jesus has everything I will ever need. There is no lack in Him, and I have access to everything He has to offer because we are one. “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one in sprit with Him,” 1 Corinthians 6:17. If I am one with Him, in perfect union, how can I get more of Him? I CAN’T. I am as close as I can get! If I’m feeling hungry and unsatisfied, that’s my fault not His. Its like sitting at a full table of food that has been offered to you, refusing to eat, and then complaining about being hungry. Do you feel like you are lacking joy? Jesus has it for you. What about peace? Jesus has that too. John 4:14 says that “those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” That’s why Jesus said we’d never be thirsty again, because He remains in us to keep giving us unending drinks. When we feel the need to do things to get closer to God and be fed, we are saying that the cross isn’t enough. We are relying on our own works and not resting in His grace and provision. But adding even the tiniest of our own works to gain righteousness is no longer grace. The gospel is SIMPLE. Its so easy that sometimes we can’t even wrap our mind around it. Jesus has provided everything we will ever need, and we will never have to work to be close to Him or be good enough for Him. He wants us to be fully satisfied because He loves us. We just need to rest and believe. It sounds too good to be true, right? God creates us, loves us, pursues us, wins us over with His kindness, gives us the faith to believe in Him, saves us, then provides everything we’ll ever need. And we never do a thing to earn it. Its all by His grace. Only God could do something that good!
Do you ever wonder what kinds of things you need to do to please God? I’ve spent a lot of years of my life trying to figure out the formula for making God happy with me. But the good thing is, I’ve got it all figured out now. I’ve also figured out that I wasted a whole lot of time, because I finally came to the understanding that there is NOTHING I can do to make God pleased with me. I know that sounds bad, but its actually really, really good news! John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God gave His Son for us, which was a huge price to pay for a whole bunch of people that didn’t even know Him! But Isaiah 53:10 talks about God sending Jesus to rescue us. It says “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.” The Father was pleased to send Him, and Jesus was pleased to come. Hebrews 12:2 says “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” God loves us so much, and He is completely pleased with us! We don’t ever need to earn His love because it is already perfectly poured out on us. God IS LOVE. Its not just something He does, its who He is. His thoughts towards us are precious and cannot be numbered (psalm 139:17). Sometimes we spend way too much time striving for something we already have. God will never be more pleased with you than He is right now, and you can’t do anything to outrun His love. You just can’t escape! So I’ve learned to stop trying and just rest. I rest in the fact that God adores me. I rest in the fact that He is pleased with me and He’s not going to change His mind. Its hard for us sometimes to understand that God doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. He created us just to enjoy Him! And when you truly learn to enjoy God, all the other stuff just comes naturally. You don’t read your Bible to please God, you read it because its fun. You don’t witness to people to make God happy, you do it because there is so much joy in serving Him. Jesus said His yoke was easy, and it really is! But until you come to the realization that He’s already pleased with you, you can’t really enjoy it. I’ve heard that the word “gospel” which means “good news” can literally be translated “nearly too good to be true news.” And it seems like that! A God that loves us with a relentless love, that pursues us, and then provides for our every need seems too good to be true! But the gospel is really that good, and its really that easy. You can rest because He’s pleased with you!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. This verse is so important because it is really talking about our identity as Christians. Accepting Jesus as your Savior doesn’t just give you a free ticket to heaven, it changes who you are. You are literally transformed into a new person with a new nature. Before a person accepts Christ, they have a sin nature. But after salvation, Scripture tells us we get a new nature. Ephesians 4:22 says to “put off the old self,” and verse 24 says to “put on the new self.” We aren’t just supposed to act differently, we ARE different. Some people believe that they are still sinners after they accept Christ, but this isn’t true. We are no longer considered sinners! We are considered righteous. Yes, we still have flesh so we still will sin sometimes, but our spirit is sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). That means that any sin we commit does not affect our standing with God. Our spirit will always be righteous, and that is the part of us that is in Christ. Now that we have a new nature, there is a big difference though. We are no longer slaves to sin, so we can CHOOSE to sin or not. It is no longer natural for us to sin, and we are free to resist the devil. So what’s the big deal if we still consider ourselves sinners? Does it really matter? YES, it does. Proverbs 23:7 says that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” As long as we think of ourselves as sinners unable to do any better, we’ll act accordingly. We’ll stay defeated and stuck in patterns of sin. But once you realize that God sees you as righteous, you will begin to act righteous naturally! It will be effortless, because you will begin to see yourself as your Father does. I can’t even count how many times in the past my kids have gotten discouraged doing some new task or skill. Before long they start saying “I can’t do this!” But its amazing what happens if my husband or I tell them with enthusiasm “Yes you can! You can do it!” When they hear that we believe in them, they get excited to keep trying. And before they know it, they have a new skill mastered. Without any encouragement, they might have given up. And this is what Holy Spirit does for us. He reminds us that we are new creatures. He tells us when we mess up to get back up because our righteousness isn’t gone. He tells us who we are, and we are encouraged to live how our Father sees us. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad that I’m a new creation, and I’m grateful every day that I have a Comforter to remind me of that!
Man up dude!!! see yourself as the warrior God sees you as.
In Exodus chapter 33, we read about a conversation that Moses is having with God. God is telling Moses that He is pleased with him, and that he has found favor with God. Moses takes it a step further, and says to God “Now show me your glory” (vs. 18). He was asking God for more intimacy, and God gives it to him. He tells Moses that “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence,” (vs.19). God equates His glory with His goodness. He wanted Moses to know Him as a good God, and He wants us to know Him that way too. We know that God doesn’t just love people, He IS love. Its the same with His goodness. God doesn’t just do good things. He IS good. Its His very nature. He can’t change that, and He will never do anything that violates His nature. Psalm 119:68 says “You are good, and what You do is good.” He will never do anything that isn’t good! That’s why we see Jesus heal EVERY sick person that came to Him; because He’s good. That’s why Jesus took everything we deserved as punishment and shares with us everything He deserves in His inheritance; because He’s good! The very idea that God sees us as righteous because of what Jesus did is evidence of His goodness. Hebrews 1:3 says that “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” Everything Jesus did was good because He only did what He saw His Father do. In the same way God was intimate with Moses and showed him His goodness, He wants intimacy with us. Its through that intimacy that we learn of His goodness and begin to really know Him more. The more we know His goodness, the more we trust Him and understand how much He loves us. We get a greater revelation from Him that God is good, all the time!