(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 1)
As a Christian, in this life, you will have struggles, failures, temptations and falls. None of us are perfect and no Christian is more righteous than the other. We all sin at some point in our Christian walk with the Lord, whether it be in our words, our thoughts or our deeds and we all hit valley experiences from time to time.
From my own experience, when you are down either because you are in a valley due to testing or you fail God in some way, the enemy will try to come to make you doubt that you are really saved. He will say things like:
- “If you were really a child of God, God would never have allowed you to go through what you are going through.” OR
- “God obviously cares about her. Look at how much she is being blessed. He obviously doesn’t care about you. Look at the extent of the trouble you have been going through and the amount of prayers you have said but yet your troubles remain. Have you considered that maybe you are cursed?” OR
- “If you were truly saved, then you wouldn’t have disobeyed God in that situation.” OR
- “Are you sure you belong to Jesus? Look at how imperfect you still are.” OR
- “You are the vilest sinner in this place. Look at how everyone else is so perfect and doing everything right, yet you mess up practically every day!” OR
- “You said you weren’t going to gossip but this morning you did! God is disgusted with you and you are not fit for heaven!” OR
- “Oh you have gone and done it now! Your disobedience is so bad, your mess is so big, that there is no way you can make things right with God, ever! You are doomed, dead!” OR
- “You will never survive this and God will never come through for you, ever.” OR
- “Don’t even think about ever witnessing to others because you yourself are so imperfect and worthy of hell. You’ve done so much wrong in your past that when you asked God for forgiveness, he shut his ears. He is that fed up with you.” OR
- “You see her, she deserves good things happening in her life but you, you deserve only bad things for all that you have done displeasing to God.” OR
- “What new beginnings? You may be sorry for your sins but God will never forget your transgressions. They are always going to define you. You will always be a failure in life.” OR
- “You might as well get used to your situation because it is never going to change. Remember how many times you let God down?” OR
- Yes he forgave him but you, he will not. He has decided to be merciful to him but you he has condemned.”
If you notice carefully, the devil’s voice always points you to your shortcomings to condemn you, while never showing you the path to restoration or how you can gain the victory over your situation.
If you are unemployed, he tells you that you will never get out and will stay that way. If you made poor choices, he says that you will always be stuck in your situation because of them. If you quarreled with someone, he tells you that that relationship is doomed forever and that you will never be able to repair it because that person will never forgive you. If you lusted after someone, had a child outside of wedlock or even married someone that was not a Christian, he says that you have messed up your relationship with God forever and can no longer have a bright future. He impresses upon your mind that, while God may excuse your ‘minor’ sins like gossiping, stealing, cursing someone, not forgiving, being malicious, envious and dishonest, he simply cannot forgive your ‘major’ sins like killing someone, engaging in fornication, using expletives, committing adultery, being unequally yoked, defrauding people of millions or robbing a store at gunpoint.
He tries to make you think that God’s love is not enough to cover your multitude of sins and that the blood of Jesus Christ is not enough to cleanse you of every stain. He tries to make you think that you are hopeless, destined to a ‘hellacious’ future and that you should give up on walking with and pursuing God because maybe you are no longer saved.
He does this even when you have already confessed to God your shortcomings and have even confessed your faults to other Christians so that you may be healed.
It is important to note that, once the Christian is repentant, confesses his wrong to God, asks for forgiveness and turns away from his sin, people may not forgive him but God does and he is able to restore. He is about restoration and reconciliation. You must take your eyes off of people (for even the most pious Christian sins, despite giving the appearance of having attained perfection) and place them squarely on Jesus, the one that is the propitiation for your sins.
Ironically, God is more pleased with the prayer of someone that has sinned and humbly and genuinely asks him for mercy and forgiveness, than someone who comes to him with a spirit of self-righteousness, haughtiness and behaves as if somehow, he or she is more holy and spiritually knowledgeable than others and therefore more deserving of a spot in heaven.
A few scriptures in the Bible are instructive in this regard.
Luke 18:9-14 states of Jesus:
- “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus WITH HIMSELF, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house JUSTIFIED rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul stated that the person who was without God’s righteous covering (which comes through forgiveness by Jesus Christ) and those who walk in darkness by engaging in or practising fornication (sexual acts before marriage or anything sexually immoral because it is prohibited by God), idolatry (having something or someone on the throne of his heart other than God), being effeminate (being a man but having feminine traits), abusing themselves with mankind, thieves, those who were covetous, drunkards, revilers (people who assault, slander, seek to guilt, defame and shame others with their tongues abusively, scornfully, wickedly, accusingly, so as to cast them in an evil light and make them out to be a villain) or extortioners, would not inherit eternal life in heaven.
Truth be told, the Publican to whom Jesus referred may have been guilty of being unjust, an adulterer, an extortioner (someone who extorts money or some other benefit from another through blackmail) or some other one of the above mentioned grave sins. Yet, the beauty of the thing is that, unlike the Pharisee, he acknowledged that he had walked in darkness was currently in darkness but now desired to walk in light. He acknowledged his vile, sinful condition and knew that he was unworthy of any good thing from the Lord. Yet, out of a genuine desire to change and be cleansed, he came to God in humbleness of spirit and sought his forgiveness for his load of sin, upon the sole basis of God’s mercy. When he did that, God heard his humble prayer, saw his penitent heart and JUSTIFIED him, so much so that 1 Corinthians 6:11 is applicable to him.
In 1 Corinthians 6:11, Paul continued: “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.“
Paul therefore acknowledged that the people to whom he spoke had come to God as sinners, believed on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, confessed that he was Lord and sought his forgiveness for their sinful lives. He therefore declared optimistically of such people, who the blood of Jesus Christ had washed and cleansed and made clean, just like it did this publican who God JUSTIFIED on that day, that the sins of which he spoke of characterized their past lives, not their present walk with Jesus, who had cleansed every guilty stain, subdued their iniquities and cast them into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
John 8:1-11 also speaks of a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, who the scribes and the Pharisees were of the view, should be stoned to death, according to the old testament law. However, since Jesus came to abolish that law and to give the free gift of grace and since, while he was on earth and before he returns, he was and continues to be all about forgiveness of sins and restoration and since he knew that the persons leveling the accusation were guilty of sins themselves and equally deserving as the woman to die, he answered, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Pricked in their conscience, they all left the scene, so much so that when Jesus raised up himself from the ground where he had been writing, none of her accusers were there. Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” She replied, “No man, Lord.” Jesus then said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”
Note that Jesus was not tolerant of her sin. She had to be repentant and forsake them. Hence the reason why he told her, “…go and sin no more.” In Luke 5:31-32, Jesus explained why, while he was on earth, he did not condemn people to damnation and hopelessness for their sins. He was not excusing or condoning the ugliness of sin but he was more concerned about providing the antidote for it than he was about condemning someone to hell because of it.
The time will come when Jesus will judge this world and condemn sinners who have not accepted him as Lord and Saviour, to hell. However, for now and while he lived on earth, his statement to the Pharisees and Scribes applies. They enquired of him as to why his disciples ate and drank and therefore basically socialized with people who were publicans and sinners. Jesus responded, “They that are whole need not a physician but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Make no mistake, when the Christian sins, there are usually dire and painful consequences to his poor choices and there are blessings that he may lose out on. However, once he comes to God repenting, confessing and forsaking his sin, God restores and he is able to still give that Christian a bright future, filled with joy and hope.
The devil never tells you that part when he comes to try to steal your faith and make you doubt your salvation. He never tells you when you fall, that it is possible to get back up in Jesus’ name. He never tells you that once you have genuinely believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and confessed him as Lord over your life, that if you sin (although this should not be intentionally), that God does not cast you out of his heavenly family but Jesus serves as your advocate or High Priest with the father, making intercession on your behalf, as you repent.
1 John 1:8-10 and 2:1-2 states of Christians:
- “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us…My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The blood that Jesus shed on the cross which was perfect was enough to deliver you from the power of darkness and translate you into His Kingdom (salvation) and is enough to purge your conscience from all of your sins, even those that you commit after becoming a Christian and genuinely repent of.
When the enemy comes in like a flood with his lies therefore, ask God to lift up a standard against him and immerse yourself in God’s truth, even as Jesus did when he was tempted by the devil. Isaiah 59:19 states: “…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”
Remind yourself of truth by stating the following and then substantiating it with all of the scriptures below:
STATEMENT OF TRUTH
I am clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not through my behavior, kind actions, good character, any work or effort of myself, since my best works are as filthy rags in God’s sight and could never attain to his standard of holiness so as to make me deserving of heaven and worthy of escaping death.
When I am really, really good therefore, I will still NEVER deserve to escape hell because my best works and intentions are still not good enough by God’s standard. God will never look at me and say, Oh, she is so perfect that she has finally attained my standard of righteousness and earned her way to heaven! When I am really, really bad, so much so that I am disgusted with my own behaviour, attitude and conduct, l will STILL be a Christian and destined for heaven because my salvation was never based in myself and my conduct but in my faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
God will never look at me and say (provided that I am abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ), “Oh look at how much she has messed up! She has done so much wrong that she is too imperfect to enter heaven.” I have gained acceptance into God’s family (even when I feel unworthy) and am destined for heaven (once I keep abiding in Jesus), as he and he alone paid the price or penalty for ALL of my sins, past, present and future, thereby enabling me to gain access to almighty God and to heaven. I have been made righteous in God’s eyes not because of me but because of the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ to the will of the Father. Because it was solely due to what Jesus did at the cross and my accepting it that made me righteous in God’s eyes, it is a gift that was freely offered of God and which I most gladly, although undeservedly received.
I am therefore redeemed, JUSTIFIED, accepted in the beloved, am a part of God’s family, saved from the second death and destined for heaven, so long as I continue to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ and place my faith in him (not in how good I can be) having made me righteous through HIS obedience and death at the cross. Once I remain in Jesus Christ and keep believing on him, God no longer sees my filthiness, even when I fail him as a Christian (although I need to practise and will see the need to practise genuine repentance and forsaking of sin) because Jesus has clothed me in HIS righteousness and not my own.
Simply put, when I believed on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and confessed the truth with my mouth that he is Lord, I was removed from the Adam ship which leads to death, God’s wrath and destruction and placed on the Jesus ship, which leads to eternal life and an inheritance in heaven. When I mess up, although I should endeavour to conduct myself pleasing to God while on Christ’s ship, I am not placed back on Adam’s ship or kicked overboard. I am still on Christ’s ship, praise God! That is my irreversible positioning and one that I will never take for granted.
Because I am in Christ, when I fail or I disobey God, whether it be in my words, my thoughts or my actions, I will not stay there but will be sorrowful, confess my sins before the Lord, seek his forgiveness and be restored. “For a JUST man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…” (Proverbs 24:16) and I am JUSTIFIED through Christ Jesus, not in myself and my thoughts, words or actions.
Whereas God requires me to be perfected, he does not require me to be perfect as a precursor, in order to be saved. His salvation freely offered through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, has already made allowance for the times that I will be weak, will fail, will fall and will displease him. His grace is sufficient and if I sin, I have an advocate with the Father. However, as his child, I will not want to practise sin, will be saddened when I do and displease my heavenly Father (especially because he will convict me through the Holy Spirit of my sin) and will spend the rest of my life fighting the good fight of faith daily, to let go of ALL sin and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, my Saviour.
That process is called ‘progressive sanctification’. I have already received ‘justification’ through Jesus Christ and been ‘positionally sanctified’ when moved from Adam and placed in Christ. As I continue on in Christ and submit to the Spirit’s leading, I now allow God to work in me to progressively sanctify me from everything that is not of him or like him. The objective is to make me more like him.
When I die or Jesus returns, I will experience ‘glorification’ (even as Jesus did), by my corruptible body being changed and putting on a body that is incorruptible for heaven.
SCRIPTURES OF TRUTH
- “For ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
- “But we are ALL as an unclean thing and all OUR righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” (Isaiah 64:6)
- “For by GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works. Lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8)
- “And if by GRACE, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)
- “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now JUSTIFIED by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath THROUGH HIM.” (Romans 5: 6-9)
- “But God who is rich in MERCY, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together WITH CHRIST, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places IN CHRIST JESUS.” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
- “…we also joy in God THROUGH our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that ALL have sinned…Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression…But not as the offence, so also is the FREE GIFT. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the GRACE of God and the GIFT by GRACE, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the GIFT: for the judgment was by one to condemnation but the FREE GIFT is of many offences unto JUSTIFICATION. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of GRACE and of the GIFT of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the FREE GIFT came upon all men unto JUSTIFICATION of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:11-20)
- “…But where sin abounded, GRACE did much more abound: That as SIN HATH REIGNED UNTO DEATH, even so might GRACE REIGN THROUGH RIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO ETERNAL LIFE by Jesus Christ our Lord….What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 5:20-21 & 6:1-2)
- “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that IS IN CHRIST JESUS. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:24-28)
- “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. By whom also we have access by faith into this GRACE wherein we stand; and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
- “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. For he is our peace, who hath made both one and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in HIMSELF of twain one new man, so making peace. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…For THROUGH HIM we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. In whom ye are also builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:13-22)
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, In whom we have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians1:3,6-7)
- “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but BY THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)
- “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8: 1-2)
- “And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10)
- “I will greatly REJOICE in the Lord, my soul shall be JOYFUL in my God; for he hath clothed me with the GARMENTS OF SALVATION, he hath covered me with the ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10).
(Written on 25th April, 2016)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be informative, useful, edifying or interesting, then you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 151 – ‘Have You Fallen But Desire To Get Back Up?’