I am the blessed mother of a child who is very conscientious about everything--right and wrong, what is pleasing to God, what sin is, what faith is, what doubt is, what worry is.....you get the picture. And while I am grateful for that characteristic, I fear that the focus of attention is on the wrong thing--SELF. I am constantly advising, just trust Jesus. Just think about Jesus. Just pray and tell Jesus. But now I realize that much more is known about the sin than the Saviour. Therein lies the problem.
In the U.S. Treasury, there are people whose only job is to look at bills all day and determine if they are real or counterfeit. In training them, they do not ever look at fake bills, they only study the real ones. They study and study and study them. They come to know them so well that when a fake one comes across their desk, it stands out like a blaring horn or flashing neon sign. They are so familiar with the real that anything less than the real is automatically detectable by a quick glance.
I meet a lot of Christians who are also concerned, as my child is, with being and doing right before God. And I notice that they listen to a lot of preaching that points wrong things out, defines wrong things, warns of wrong things, and describes the outcome of not overcoming wrong things.
Granted, there are people who need to hear these things, but if not balanced with the overwhelming knowledge of the goodness, mercy and love of God, they continue to struggle. They might strike the Goliath in their life down, stunning it, but they never seem to get the sword out of the sheath and cut off it's head. So after a short period of relief, the giant returns after waking from it's seeming unconsciousness more angry and vicious than it was before. And so the war of intimidation continues, thus rendering the struggling Christian stuck in the mire of condemnation and defeat.
Could this be why there are so many unhappy, frustrated Christians? They are constantly repenting and telling God they are sorry because they realize that their lifestyles could send them to hell. Now I agree that if there is one thing in life that you should fear, it should be eternity in hell--rather, as scripture says, fear the one who can send you there. But if our repentance and lamentation is simply over the prospect of hell, is that truly repentance? And if it is, is it lasting repentance? Because while the giant is stunned, things will go well, but what about when the giant awakens and returns?
Timothy Keller writes “In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us – seeing what it cost him to save us from sin – we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”
We need to study the real! We need to focus and look at Christ! Before we start to attack the things that are wrong in our lives, we must first see the one who is right--Jesus Christ, our mediator and our help! We must see and know and experience His great love and mercy in our lives. We must understand the pricelessness of His love, the exceeding capacity of His mercy, the depth of His commitment in that He suffered our punishment on the cross, and His undying fidelity to us in His resurrection and intercession. We need to get this, much more than we need to understand our sin, for when we understand our sin without knowing Him, we try to fix ourselves. This is impossible. That's why we were lost when we were without a Savior! But when we know Christ, our sin becomes like that blaring horn and flashing sign of a counterfeit bill. As we know Him, we also know sin, because next to Him, all sin is grotesques. As we know Him, even the slightest flaw will be like a pebble in our shoe prodding us to stop and remove it with every step.
We need to know Him as the GOOD shepherd.
"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep!" John 10:11
The shepherd is a favorite Scriptural picture of the divine love and care. In the Old Testament, the twenty-third Psalm gathers the whole wonderful truth in exquisite lines which are dear to both young and old, wherever the Bible is known. Then in the New Testament, when our Lord would give His friends the sweetest revealings of His heart toward them, and tell them what they are to Him, and what He would be to them--He says, "I am the Good Shepherd.
"The earthly shepherd lives with his sheep. If they are out in the storm, or exposed to any danger--he is with them. Likewise, Christ lives with His people--in all their afflictions, and all their storms. He enters into closest relations with them.The earthly shepherd knows his sheep. He has a name for each one--and calls them all by their names. Christ knows each one of His friends, and has intimate personal knowledge of each one. He knows the best in us--and also the worst. He knows our faults, our sins, our wanderings.
Yet, knowing us as we are--He loves us still, and never wearies of us!The earthly shepherd is most gentle with his sheep. He does not drive them--but goes before them and leads them. When they need rest on the way, he makes them lie down, and chooses for their resting-place, not the dusty road--but green pastures. He is especially kind to the lambs, gathers them in his arms and carries them in his bosom. All this is an exquisite picture of the gentleness of our Good Shepherd, in His care of His sheep. He is thoughtful toward the weak. He loves the 'lambs' and makes room for them in His bosom. Whatever the need is, there is something in the heart of Christ which meets its craving, and supplies its lack.The earthly shepherd defends his flock in all danger. Often he has to risk his own safety, even his life, in protecting his sheep. Just so, the Good Shepherd gives His life for His sheep. Christ's sheep are absolutely safe in His keeping. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish--ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28. Then at last He will bring His own all safely home, "and they shall become one flock, one Shepherd." J. Miller
William Dyer writes: "He is altogether lovely!" Song of Songs 5:16
Jesus is most desirable in Himself--and all things that are desirable are in Him.
Beauty is in Christ,
bounty is in Christ,
riches and honor are in Christ.
Jesus Christ is the treasure hidden in the gospel,
the pearl of great price;
He is the sun in the firmament of the Scriptures, whom to know is everlasting life.
He is . . . a spring full of the water of life,
a hive of sweetness,
a storehouse of riches,
a river of pleasures, wherein you may bathe your souls to all eternity!
Oh! He is all fullness and sweetness!
"He is the chief among ten thousand!" Song of Songs 5:10
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
You may go to heaven . . . without health,
but you can never go to heaven without Christ!
"He loved me--and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
All that Christ did and suffered--it is for me!
All that Christ has--is mine!
Christ's love is mine to pity me!
Christ's mercy is mine to save me!
Christ's graces are mine to beautify me!
Christ's power is mine to protect me!
Christ's wisdom is mine to counsel me!
Christ's Spirit is mine to comfort me!
Christ's Word is mine to teach me!
Christ's glory is mine to crown me!
Therefore, a grain of saving grace in the heart,is better than a chain of gold around the neck!"
The love of Christ constrains us." 2 Corinthians 5:14
Love of Jesus is essential to Christianity. No privations can starve it, and no burdens can break it down. It is the core of all true piety. It is the only cure of the reigning worldliness and covetousness and fashionworship, which have made such havoc in too many churches.
There is only one way to be a steadfast Christian--it is to get the heart so full of love to Jesus--that the world, and the lusts of the flesh, and the devil can get no foothold. A true Christian life is the continual consecration of our bodily powers, of our energies, our affections, our resources, and our influence--to Him who bought us with His precious blood. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." Romans 12:1" Steven Cuyler
We need to KNOW CHRIST! Not know about Christ, but to know Him in the sense that He is as real to us as our mother, father, brother, sister, friend, or spouse. And that is His desire as well! God created us to have fellowship with Him--that means, God wants us to hang with HIM! He hard wired us that way! He wants to laugh with us, shop with us, talk to us, BE WITH US! And as we come to know Him in all the facets of His personality, and we come to understand through His spirit how He loves us, sin will be the furthest thing from our mind and desires. And when sin does come calling us to come out and play, we, like David can grab the Word of God and the Sword of the Spirit and go out and defeat it and move on!!!!!
I totally trust my husband because I know him so well that I know he can always be trusted. In the 30 years I have known him, he has never done anything to prove himself untrustworthy. My heart is secure with him. As I think about my relationship with Christ, I realize that although I know all the things that are right about Christ, sometimes my heart does not feel secure because my circumstances don't seem to line up with what I know.
Faith is having a secure heart even in the midst of contradicting circumstances. The only way I can have that secure heart is too truly know the one that my faith is in and to know that as long as He has been, from everlasting to everlasting, He has never been unfaithful. Oh that I may truly know Him in His fullness!