In Search Of Our Identity~(Part 5)
Folks? By now you've either decided to investigate these facts for yourself, or not. It is my sincerest prayer that you have decided to approach all of this by the unction of the Spirit, and a free~will intellect seeking to understand the most you can about God and our relationship with Him.
That being said:
Having a proper understanding of our identity in Christ greatly depends on how we view God's forgiveness toward us. If we see ourselves as unforgiven or not worthy of forgiveness, in my opinion, it perverts our understanding of God's love. In a world where forgiveness has to be earned or paid for, complete and unconditional forgiveness is sometimes difficult to understand, especially by those of us that have been taught otherwise. However, the scriptures will tell us that this is the way God has forgiven us.
Please listen to what will be said here very closely, and make your mind up for yourself concerning God's forgiveness. Please know, that without Truthfully understanding God's forgiveness, we'll never really understand one of the most important things about our God, and our relationship with Him. This holds true no matter what your view.
When Christ died on the cross, His last words were, "It is finished." In other words, "The payment for sin has been satisfied." Please make no mistake here. When Christ came to us here on this earth, He was on a multi-task mission. One part was to purge Heaven of satan's sin (another whole topic in itself), and the other was to save US! One of the things He came to do for us was to adequately deal with our sin.
Sin exists for us in three time frames... past, present and future. If Christ had failed to deal with any one of these, it would be impossible for Him to "save" us from anything! Right? But He was successful in all phases of His mission, both upon this earth and in heaven. THIS is the freedom we have as children of God.
2 Corinthians 5:19 says, God is "no longer counting men's sins against them."
"All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." ~ Acts 10:43
This scripture reveals that all the prophets testified about Jesus. It also says that the way we receive forgiveness of our sins is to "believe" in Jesus. In light of this verse, the prophets in the Old Testament were expecting the Messiah to bring us to a place of forgiveness. Jesus fulfilled that expectation in all ways.
According to this verse, when we put our faith in Christ, what do we receive? Our forgiveness. After this, there is no need to seek and re-seek that which has already been given you! Thus, a huge part of our "new" identity in Christ is that we are a "forgiven" person. But let's not stop here.
"I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." - Acts 26:17-18
Glory To God! Let's take a minute and see what was said here! Paul makes it clear that his mission is to "open their eyes". He says that before coming to Christ we are under satan's power. Upon putting our faith in "Christ Alone", we WILL receive forgiveness of sins, removing us from the power of satan! We are also "sanctified" (found not guilty!) because of and through our faith in "Christ Alone!"
If we are forgiven and sanctified (found not guilty) when we put our faith in"Christ", their is no need to be sanctified (found not guilty!) and forgiven at any subsequent time after our salvation! Glory To God! When we become children of God, we receive Forgiveness and Eternal Life as part of our Godly Inheritance! Thank You, God, for what you have done for us! Amen!
"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins!" - Colossians 1: 13, 14
What has God rescued us from? The dominion of darkness! If it were not a done deal, this scripture would have read, "in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, if you constantly ask for it!" Sound a little funny to you? Me too! Plainly, "In Christ", we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins! We were redeemed at the point of having faith (believing in and accepting) Christ. We were forgiven at the same time. According to this verse, our forgiveness and redemption are already ours. We DO NOT need to ask for them on a daily basis.
In light of all the previous scriptures mentioned in this particular writ, it is quite clear that our forgiveness was complete on the day we put our faith in Christ. Are we willing to rest in the fact that we are totally forgiven and that there is nothing we can do to "add" to His forgiveness? It's a very important question. The conclusion you have may completely transform your relationship with God. Give it some deep thought!
'Then He adds, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer ANY sacrifice for sin"!- Hebrews 10:17, 18
As plain as this scripture is, many do not have the courage to look into the Truth because of "previous mis-understanding through teaching". God WILL NOT remember our sins any longer. He won't remember them because they have been forgiven!
If God has forgiven our sins and remembers them no more, how then, should "we" look at our sins? As forgiven and forgotten. This understanding does something for the believer that nothing but the Truth can... It sets you FREE! You are now FREE to fully realize your "FREEDOM" from sin and REST in the TOTAL ASSURANCE in your FUTURE! Realizing this, is there anything to be "fearful" of in your relationship with God? NO! NO! NO! And what does scripture say about this other than "PERFECT LOVE DRIVES AWAY FEAR!" GLORY!
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is NOT made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:18, 19
According to this verse, anyone who remains "fearful" in their relationship with God has an underlying problem. Most of these problems are the direct result of mis-understanding God's intentions and works toward you. Instead of the love of God being the most abundant and prevalent thing in our hearts and minds toward God and others, we are "fearful". Fearful of God's judgment... We wonder at what times He may look at us in "acceptance" and when He looks upon us with "rejection". We know we are less than perfect... But if we think God's acceptance of us hinges on our "performance" or our ability to beg, we'll miss the greater part of how He really feels about us and what He, in His all-knowing deity, has really done for us to insure our eternal well-being.
There is something that "drives out fear": Love. This whole scenario can be best explained by examining the parallels in the traditional Jewish Wedding. When Christ calls us "His Bride", He is speaking in terms that everyone back then would have understood. The Jews are God's chosen people. By examining this traditional ceremony, we can more fully understand what God is saying to us.
There are a few things that are revealed through this custom, some of them quite astonishing and new to our understanding. It is a topic in itself and one I hope to blog in the future, but the point I wish to immediately focus on here, is that Christ FIRST chose US to be His bride. We, then, make a decision to accept His marriage by being "born again". Thus, we love Him because He "first loved us!" Glory To His Name! As a born again child of God, we now await to drink from the "fourth cup"... the cup of "consummation" which now awaits us in Heaven, to be shared between us... and Christ... GLORY!
So, with this "Bride and Groom" theme that is most dominant in scripture and the "love - fear" Truth that is brought forth in the scripture above, we can discern a few different things:
• If we are "fearful" in our relationship with God, we are not "perfect in love".
• We cannot be fearful and loving at the same time
• Should any bride "fear" the Groom? No!
• We love God ONLY because He first loved us.
• Correctly understanding or mis-understanding God's love and forgiveness affects "every" circumstance and action governing our lives as Christians.
• If you can fully realize you are forgiven, it will take away your fear of God's judgment, assure you of your eternal acceptance, and set you free to live the life God intends for you in total peace, joy, love and certain confidence that God has dealt with your sin -- "Once And For All!"
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold "unswervingly" to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful" - (Hebrews 10: 19-23)
Wow! Jesus opened the way for us to the Most Holy Place by His life's blood sacrifice for our sin. The "Most Holy Place" is the very Throne Room of God! Jesus is our "Great Priest!" Knowing that you are forgiven should give you "full confidence" to approach God! The ONLY thing that cleanses us from a guilty conscience is "being sprinkled" by the blood of Jesus! We can now draw near unto God faith a sincere heart and an attitude of "full assurance" that we have been sanctified (found not guilty) and eternally accepted by God as a child of God!
In verse 23, it's important to note that "Jesus" is the One that is faithful... NOT us! So, then, it is very important for us to realize that we are totally forgiven! If He had left any part of our salvation up to us, rest assured, we would have screwed it up... It's inevitable!
"In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence" - (Ephesians 3:12)
Starting to dawn on you yet? The ONLY way we can approach God in freedom and confidence is in Jesus and our faith in Him (which includes what He has done for us). To approach God in freedom and confidence means you must "KNOW" you have been accepted by God, "once and for all"! That freedom is ours to be had!
We have seen that our relationship with God should be greatly affected by the forgiveness Christ has provided. Is there any reason why you are not experiencing freedom and confidence in your relationship with God? If so, are you willing to let go of it and by faith accept the fact that as a child of God you are totally forgiven?
Our understanding of God's forgiveness has a lot to do with how we treat other people, also. If we have never experienced God's love and forgiveness for ourselves, it would be very hard to be a loving and forgiving person toward others. Make sense to you?
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God FORGAVE you..." -- (Ephesians 4:32)
As you can well see, the way you view God's forgiveness toward you will surely determine how you apply the wisdom of the above scripture to your life. This scripture points out that we are to forgive others as Christ "forgave" (notice the past tense that is very specific in this scripture) us. God forgave us because of His kindness and compassion toward us. If God has forgiven us totally and unconditionally, we SHOULD forgive others in the same way... But do we? How often do we require that the other person "ask" our forgiveness before we "try" to forgive them? How often do we put forth our best effort to forgive and seek forgiveness just because we think it a "command" that our very salvation hinges on? And even when we "try" to do these things, how often are we really successful?
If we see ourselves as unforgiven, or conditionally forgiven, being constantly in danger of punishment, just like sinners who have never been saved, how will we treat others? I don't need to answer that one for you... But if we see ourselves as totally forgiven, how then would you treat others? You could easily learn that it is within you to have forgiven most trespasses before they even occur... Making the process an already done deal... Drastic difference isn't it?
"Therfore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience! Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievance you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord "forgave" (past tense) you." -- (Colossians 3:12 & 13)
This is very revealing wisdom in that it describes God's chosen people as people clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience... A people that bears with one another and a people that forgives all grievances between themselves... Forgiving each other in the same manner as God forgave them... Oh. And this is done in the "heart" of His people. It's not referring to "lip service" here. Does this accurately describe us? If not, we've missed something very important in our understanding of God. A forgiving spirit is totally natural for God's people. This is because it is the personality of Christ in the believer.
Christ forgave us of "all" our sins. So, we are to forgive ALL grievances we have against others... ALL... "Once and for all"... This means those of the past, those of the present, and yes, those of the future. Your reward will be "YOUR" freedom!
Forgiveness is at the very root of our identity in Christ. His unconditional love for us that He demonstrated by dying for us on the cross is what gives us the power to draw near unto God... And to love others ~~