Friday, April 24, 2009

Free from Excuses Series

Recently, I took a quiz online, but didn’t fill in any name information, etc. The website holder was just looking for a way of increasing their database of names and email addresses, and I didn’t want to contribute. After going through all the questions, agonizing over my answers and checking the appropriate boxes, I finished with a sigh. But when I clicked on “get results” the screen refreshed with this ominous phrase:

Six errors prohibited this user from being saved.

With language like that I couldn’t help thinking of salvation in broader terms. Today I’m going to begin a series where we’ll consider six reasons people use to avoid salvation through Jesus as their Savior.

Here’s our first one: condemnation. Can you relate with this thought: “I’ve gone too far. You don’t know what I’ve done. There is no way God could forgive me.”??

You say that because you know God is holy. And he is. And on our own, we cannot go to heaven, we cannot be forgiven. But through God all things are possible.

Let me explain: There is a liar who hates you (the devil). He’s been lying to you in three ways, about 1) YOURSELF, 2) OTHER PEOPLE, and 3) GOD.

1) yourself—“You have gone too far. There is no hope for you. You are the one person who is beyond even God’s ability to forgive.” Problem here, if this reasoning has kept you from being saved, you’ve believed the lies.

2) others—“Can you believe what that person said about you? You know they hate you.” OR “Look at those clothes. Ugh!” OR “She’s only being nice to you because she wants something.”

3) God—“He can’t really love you. Look at everything you’ve done. God’s love is for the good people. You’d never qualify.”

Here’s the truth: Jesus is God. He is not petty or spiteful, prideful or hateful. He does not disqualify the “condemned” from His grace. He is full of love and mercy. He is also sinless and was therefore the perfect substitute for us—the perfect Lamb of God who died in my place, in your place, so we could be forgiven, and welcomed by the perfect God, our Creator.

Take a look at John 1:29 because this is good news!!

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NKJV)

“Takes away the sins of the world.” --- The sins of Hitler, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy. Me. You.

All our sins are gone. They were dealt with on the cross. That should make us rejoice (it should never lead to a license to sin.) Since all the sins have already been dealt with—past, present, future, our response is now the key. Will we receive His free gift of salvation? Will we humble ourselves and accept the truth—we need Him and His mercy. We’re lost unless He intervenes. There is so much freedom in just admitting that truth.

If we do not receive His free gift of salvation, it won’t matter that the sins are gone. They’ve been “taken away.”

Those names listed above are of real people with real sin who, like you and me, had a choice—to receive Jesus as Savior, or not. To accept forgiveness, or not. To humble themselves and “bend the knee” to a new Master (rather than self) and trust in the mercy of God, or not. If they did not, if you do not, if I do not, we are not saved. But, oh if we do… NO MORE CONDEMNATION:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1)

Then, as we learn to “walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,” the enemy has less grounds for even accusing us. God’s Spirit inside us will confirm we are the Lord’s and He does not condemn those Jesus’ sacrifice covers. (Remember it only covers you if you receive it, recognizing Jesus as your personal Savior.) God’s is the type of family you enter just by saying “yes.” Our response (which is based in free will) gets us in. We don’t have to be on the outside feeling rejected. It’s up to us to acknowledge His path to acceptance and adoption. “Whosoever will” may come. (John 3:16)

Condemnation makes us feel vulnerable, unlovable and brokenhearted. If our very Creator can’t even accept us, we are hopeless. In that painful state, remember:

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Humble yourself and realize you need Him. Pray, asking Him to come and save you. You haven’t gone too far. You are loved. You can be forgiven and live outside the burden of all that condemnation (real and perceived). You can be a member of the family of God.

He’s reaching to you. Reach back.

He’s chasing you. Surrender.

Let Jesus love you free.

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