Many years ago when I had first come to Christ, I was working in a steel mill in eastern Pennsylvania. I was working at the electric furnace and met another Christian, Butch, with whom I fellowshipped daily. One day, he asked how I was doing. I was not joyful as I had been on previous days. I had recently sinned and had lost my joy. My life was overcome with guilt and I was being pulled down by the enemy. The further my heart sank, the more I was convinced that God was mad at me and I no longer had his love. It was at that point that Butch pulled me to the side and reminded me that the Christian life was not about me, but that it was all about Christ.
Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. (Psalms 25:7)As we talked, I began to understand that my life could never be lived to the standard of being acceptable to God and that him accepting me would always be based on his mercy and loving kindness. For me, confession was still needed, but that would never warrant acceptance. Even when I confessed, I knew that being acceptable and pleasing in his sight would be based on his mercy, loving kindness and goodness.
So many people are trapped into trying to repent, confess or surrender enough to reach a point of acceptance. What they fail to see is that because of God’s mercy and goodness, he accepts us and then gives us the ability to repent, confess and surrender.
If your Christianity focuses on you and your performance, then you have it all backwards. Take the advice from my friend, Butch who told me many years ago, “It’s all about Christ! It’s all about Christ!”
How good is good enough? We know for certain that sin can rob believers of blessings from the Lord. Therefore, in an effort to keep God from removing his hand of blessing, we strive to live a holy separated life.
At one point in my life, I thought that I lived a holy life, but as I grew in wisdom, I realized that my desperately wicked heart had been deceiving me. To myself I may have appeared to live righteously, but I was wrong.
Around10 years ago, my son called to speak with me as he often had done. During our conversation he stated that he came to recognized that although he was saved, he was a “wicked” person. I chuckled and said, “Yeah, I know. I raised you.” He then went on to explain that for years he had focused on outward behaviors and because they were in line with righteousness, he believed that he was living righteously. He continued to explain that as of lately, he recognized much more evil sins such as pride, stubbornness, unforgiveness, and self righteousness. He too had been deceived.
It seems that for so many people as they strive to become more holy, they may in fact become the opposite. If you separate yourself enough from sin to where you believe you are then living holy enough to be blessed by the Lord, you immediately become more sinful. We never have and never will live holy enough to be blessed.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; (Psalms 33:18)
What God expects is for us to fear him and to believe that his blessings only come as a result of his mercy. This is something that each if us can do each day. There is no level of holiness to achieve, but instead a condition of the heart and this condition reflects the principles of the first or great commandment.