As I was compiling a sermon for a campus ministry meeting in February of 2010, I ran into two key lies that the devil, the world and our flesh constantly scream at us.
- For those who don’t know Jesus Christ, that God isn’t really that good. Along with this lie comes the ideas that apart from God things aren’t that bad and people are generally good.
- For those who are in a relationship with Jesus and have experienced His saving power, the main lie is that God isn’t really that powerful, that we still bear the stain of our sin, that we can never really experience much intimacy with God until we die because of sin and there’s no way to escape the stain of sin so we should just try to cover it up so others can’t see our weaknesses.
I want to focus on the second key lie, well really it’s a series of connected lies, a way of thinking and looking at the world. It is a way of thinking I have often bought into. I’ve believed it far too often. As a result, I have often lived my Christian life in crippling worry and easily slipped into sin because, well, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace …” so though my punishment may be paid for in Jesus, my nature is still that of an evil man, so what’s the point of even trying to be good? Either I just need to look good on the outside while I “know” I’m evil on the inside, or I might as well just give up on resisting sin altogether. Along with that, when I see other Christian leaders who seem to know God better than I do, I just figure it must be because they are special or less sinful than me.
This is such a horrible, disgusting lie, because not only does it contradict Scripture, not only is it directed specifically at ripping apart the truth of who I am in Jesus Christ and the access He has given me to Himself, but it is also a direct attack on God and His character.
Here is truth for me as a believer in Jesus the Messiah:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is not longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
“For [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21-22a (NKJV)
The truth is that I am the righteousness of God through Christ! The truth is that I no longer bear the weight of the shame of my sins because they are no longer my sins but were transferred to Christ on the cross! The truth is that God has set that through faith in Jesus Christ I acquired before and continually acquire today His righteousness, making a man who was once evil and dead in sin, alive again and made into the image of the only completely good person who ever lived and walked this earth – Jesus Himself!
So why should I worry? God loves me as His own Son! He gives me access to Himself AND every blessing by faith! I no longer earn intimacy with Him or anything else for that matter by what I do. Instead, from now on I receive intimacy with God and every good thing I need by God’s grace ALONE through the channel of faith ONLY (remembering that true faith always produces corresponding works). My only work in this life is no longer to throw myself into sin nor to make things look good or labor from the perspective that I earn anything from God, but to believe (and radically so), that God has saved me by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone for the glory of God alone!
“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28-29 (NKJV)
So, as I trust in God and His Word – abiding in Him and His Word abiding in me, good works and righteous living will not only be our natural desire, but also the natural fruit of our lives!
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
“… If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:5, 7-10 (NKJV)