Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Smile! God Loves You!

Because of Christ and His redemption I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. I am totally accepted by God

If you grew up like I did, the above statement probably seems foreign to you. My church background and training taught me pretty much the opposite. I believed that I was never 'fully pleasing to God' and that my acceptance was conditional upon my behavior. Because of this, many people live in fear rather than joy and peace.


Romans 5:1 says - Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. This means we should be 'at peace', not in turmoil, not living in fear of rejection. When we don't believe we are fully pleasing and totally accepted by God, we will value the opinions of others far too much. We will seek the approval of others because we think it is 'attainable' whereas God's approval is 'unattainable'. But according to scripture we have been 'justified'.


Colossians 1:21-22 says "And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him." Notice that God has declared you "holy and blameless and above reproach". My theological understanding of this verse has been that this was speaking of "after death". That somehow, after I die, when I stand before God, I will be holy, blameless and above reproach, but while I'm living, I'm not any of these things. But scripture says I've been "reconciled to God" and therefore am fully accepted. That means I don't have to fear rejection.


The bible also declares that Christ is the "propitiation" for our sin. The word "Propitiation" means The removal of God's punishment for sin through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In 1 John the bible says:

1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
{1} My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. {2} He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

So, according to scripture, Jesus death removed the rightful punishment for our sins - all of them. This isn't a "get out of jail free" card where it makes no difference what I do. I don't want to trample under foot the sacrifice of Christ, but scripturally Christ has removed the punishment for sin. I do not have to suffer wrath of God for sin. Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe.

My Armenian background has left me confused on this issue, and perhaps you as well. My understanding didn't include this idea of propitiation. In my understanding, Jesus died for my sin, and when I got saved they were all forgiven. But what about my sinful thoughts, words and actions since then? My Armenian understanding made me feel that these weren't covered until I asked, meaning that I was seemingly always in a state of unacceptability before God. Understand this, Jesus died to forgive all our sin. Past, present and future. Accepting this fact doesn't make us arrogant or proud. It makes us appreciative that our right standing with God is totally dependent upon Christ and not ourselves.


A wrong understanding of my Armenian background has always caused me to stop short of one other very important biblical truth: that of regeneration. We speak of being "new in Christ", but the longer I live with myself, the more I realize that there are many things about me that are still 'the same'. My conclusion, although never spoken, is that this 'new creature' is a euphamism, a metaphor, and not truly a reality. The definition of regeneration includes this statement: "As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature "dead in trespasses and sins."

Illustrated Bible Dictionary: And Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature.

The regeneration happened in my soul and spirit, not my flesh. My flesh wars against the regenerated man inside. Nonetheless, according to scripture, as a child of God, I have been 'regenerated'.

Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
{4} But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, {5} he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, {6} whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, {7} so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

This regeneration came totally and completely from God. It has nothing to do with me. As believers, you and I have been made complete in Christ. We no longer need to experience the pain of shame. Again, it's not a free pass for bad behavior. It is to free us from the guilt and pain of shame.

Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)
{10} and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.

  1. Because of justification, you are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. You no longer have to fear failure.
  2. Because of reconciliation you are totally accepted by God. You no longer have to fear rejection.
  3. Because of propitiation, you are deeply loved by God. You no longer have to fear punishment, nor do you have to punish others.
  4. Becuase of regeneration, you have been made brand new, complete in Christ. you no longer need to experience the pain of shame.

For many, we have lived in constant "unworthiness", continual shame, unending guilt and a feeling of failure. All these are lies from Satan designed to rob you and I of our joy and cause us to have a wrong opinion of who we are, who God is, and what we should value. Remember, Satan's Lie is Self-Worth = my performance + other's opinions of me. God's truth is, as His child, because of Christ and His redemption, you and I are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. You and I are totally accepted by God.

I hope this helps someone today.