I am starting the new year with some answers to (anonymous) questions I have received, and I have also added an Email widget on my blog and a comment section on my website for this purpose. If you have a question you want answered, I will do my best to do so as often as I can.
Let’s start with this one;
Question; Why do I always feel like I never can live up to what God desires? I listen to sermons and other teachings and I come away feeling defeated. I have this picture in my mind of standing before God and all my sins will be flashed on a screen for all to see…
First of all, thank you for your questions. I want you to know that there are many other Christians who don’t understand this and have many other questions as well. In my years of ministry, I have tried to do my best to understand God’s Word from all perspectives and teach it to the best of my ability, allowing the Spirit to lead us all into the truth. I hope this will help in some way.
As believers, we are going to have times when we fail to live up to God’s standards. We may lie, we may lust, we may be unkind at times, or we may struggle with some strong sinful habit in our life that we seem continually defeated by. This is when we need to KNOW – (have the assurance) that we are forgiven because these failures can lead to an overwhelming guilt, and feelings of despair, and fear of God’s judgment.
I know because I’ve been in this position and I have experienced those same fears and feelings. I’ve also counseled those who, even after many years of being a Christian, still encounter those fears and feelings of despair and guilt. What I want to share with you and what God wants you to know with absolute confidence today is that those feelings of guilt and those fears are totally unwarranted because… As verse 1 of Romans 8 puts it: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I want our focus to be on the words “those who are IN Christ Jesus”.
The Bible gives us many scriptures to go along with this:
(Colossians 1:21-22). “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
(Romans 5:8) “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
This is grace. Forgiveness and love are given to us when we do not deserve them. In fact, we still do not deserve it, nor will we ever deserve it. Grace means that God has forgotten about my past sin, so I should too. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2).
Grace means that forgiveness and reconciliation with God have come, not based on anything we have done, but on who God is. The Bible says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
The first and foremost thing we must understand today is: Grace is the defining element of the Christian faith.
Now, let’s look at another reason the focus is on the words “in Christ”…
1 Thessalonians 4:16 says; “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (speaking of the Rapture of the church) “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 says– “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” – This goes along with 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 – “So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”
Paul is talking about “deeds” not sin…our deeds are judged as to good or bad,,, the good will be rewarded and the bad will be burned up. There is a quote that says “Only one life, will soon be past, and only those things done for Christ (or with unselfish or right motives) will last.”
Verse 18 – “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.
Matthew 16:27 – “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”
Luke 6:23 – “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.”
Ephesians 6:8 “Because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.”
Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Revelation 11:18 – “The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small”
Finally, Revelation 22:12 – “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”
So, you see, judgment for our sins took place at the Cross, If we believe our sins were forgiven, we are IN Christ and are now “whosoevers”…Jesus said “Whosoever believes in me shall be saved!” If this were not true, (rewards) why would we look forward to heaven?