Have you ever had it where you know that you’re not supposed to do something, and you can’t help but do it? You find yourselves unable to live up to your own standards, and God’s standards feel beyond impossible, if there is such a thing. Have you been there? Have you been at the place where you feel like one more mistake will send you away from God’s presence forever? You want to obey the commands of God, but you find yourself giving in to the same trap, time and time again. If this is you, I would like to tell you of some great news.
I was at my parents house in Ohio for the past two weeks. While there, I was hit with a huge wave of understanding about one of the most elementary things of the Gospel. My friend and I were talking over the phone. Holding each other accountable and such. It was night, I was standing by a flickering fire in the middle of a field with the stars shining elegantly in the deep, dark expansions of sky. The pearl of a moon came creeping up over the silhouette of the tree line, casting a gentle gaze on the field, the fire, and the figure.
Both of us had blown it big time this week. It was like we were ready to break a standard of God the moment we found out about it, equivalent to when you tell a child not to touch something and they cannot help but touch it. It’s interesting how every believer, the Apostle Paul included, goes through this (Romans 7:15-16). Read verse 16 carefully. The Law is good, and we want to do it because we know it is best, yet we fall short. Someone in the Bethany House of Prayer prayed this: “God, we want to want You.” That’s the cry of my heart, to want to want God.
That night at the fire, as I watched the charred wood crumble under the heat of the flame, I also watched Romans 7:15-16 playing out in my life. But suddenly, I felt something hit my heart and my mind like a baseball to the forehead. I was like the person who just caught on to the joke a minute after it was told. I just caught the most elementary part of our faith, the reason why it’s called the Gospel (good news).
My friend and I were still on the phone. After I had obtained the obvious, I said this, both to him and myself: “Bro, you’re okay with God.” I had finally gotten it. Up to that point I was feeling the incredible weight of my past track record bearing down on me, somehow causing me to do what I don’t want to do even more!
I had finally gotten it, the fact that I am okay with God. If you want to further walk into freedom from sin, then understand this:
You are okay with God becuase of what Jesus did on the cross. The price has been paid! Even if you broke God’s standards five seconds ago, because you believe that Jesus really is God in the flesh, you’re alright! He paid the penalty, and because you believe, even if you sin for the 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th time, you will be okay with God.You don’t have to do anything spiritual or ceremonious, you simply must acknowledge that you’ve done wrong and believe.
Something I noticed of world religions: In all religions, man does something, makes some kind of sacrifice to get to God, but it’s only in Christianity that God made the sacrifice to get to man. Monks and priests will lead people in some kind of ceremony to make them feel that they are okay with the higher being. After walking out of the ceremony the person will feel that they are on good standards with God. For us however, it doesn’t take a ceremony. You roll out of bed and you’re okay with God, you go to Caribou coffee and you’re okay with God, you break that same standard for the millionth time and, yes, you’re okay with God.
It is not what you do, it is what he has done that makes us okay with God. Think about the one thing that you do to make yourself feel as if you’re “spiritual”. Is it spending time reading your Bible, fasting, or praying? It was for me. Even if you didn’t do those things, because you believe (sincerely believe), you’re okay.
The most amazing thing happened afterward. I found myself not even wanting to break the same old standards I had before; it was hardly a struggle. Not only that, but I found myself wanting God’s presence more and more, stealing away into the secret place to be with him in the middle of the day, thanking him for what he had done on the cross. And finally, for once, I felt that I understood Romans 8:1-4.