Standing in the Goodness of God
by Lonnie Lane
My Kosher Gospel class is on a fast you might want to get in on. We’re fasting self-condemnation. Let me ask you a question: How often do you have thoughts going round your head that bring you shame, blame, guilt or failure? Do you consider them to be God-inspired thoughts? Do you think God is letting you know you missed it, or that you blew it? If Yeshua is the One who bore our sins and sorrows (Isaiah 53:4), taking them upon Himself on the cross in order to do away with them, certainly it is not God who is accusing you. He paid a great price to remove the accusation of those sins from you. He took the blame and the shame. He removed the status of being sinners far from us. What God asks of us is to believe it.
Do we still sin? Well, yes and no. We do find ourselves violating what we know is His will, but as we are not locked into sin, we can repent and be immediately restored to fellowship with God. When we sin, it doesn’t remove us from the Kingdom or from being His child, or even from being counted as among those who are righteous in Messiah. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The fact that we hate the sin we find ourselves doing is because He has written His Word upon our hearts (See Jeremiah 31:31). We no longer have a sin nature we’re comfortable with.
We feel badly when we find we sinned for the very reason that we hate our sin. This is a good thing! But what we must be careful of is agreeing with the enemy that we’re worthy of shame, blame, guilt and failure. If that’s what we’re hearing, or thinking, it’s not from God, and you don’t want what’s not from God. What God would have us do is to immediately repent, which means to turn away from the sin. God isn’t interested in your self-flagellation, you beating yourself up for sinning. It doesn’t buy us anything with God. In fact, it’s really unbelief because it isn’t focused on what Yeshua did to free us, it focuses on our old nature that condemns us. Guess whose voice that is? If it’s not God’s, you can come out of agreement with it. If you’re still hearing condemnation, guess whose voice that is? And we have no obligation to listen to the voice of the Adversary, the enemy of God and of our souls. You can rebuke it and refuse to think those thoughts. Now one warning: When we turn off the voice that keeps us constantly conscious of trying to keep our sinfulness in check, you may feel like you’re backsliding because you’ve spent so much time trying to be good. It may take a little time for you to see that you can trust God, and not your hyper-vigilance in trying to avoid sinning.
“It’s all about believing Yeshua died to pay for your sins, period!”
There are, however, times when we do sin. So what do we do? We come to God and acknowledge the sin and thank Him for His forgiveness. We don’t have to plead for it. It’s already ours. The repentance is the turning away from it, not the saying you’re sorry and wallowing in remorse. If there’s not a commitment to turning away and avoiding the sin, it’s not repentance no matter how much you tell God you’re sorry. If your identity is still in the sin, and not in His having made your righteous in Messiah Yeshua, then you’re in unbelief and that does not please God, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6). It’s all about believing Yeshua died to pay for your sins, period!
Recently I read these words: “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand” (Mark 3:25 – though Matthew, Mark and Luke all give accounts of the same statement). My thoughts immediately went to, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11). I saw that if I am divided against myself in any way, I will not be able to “stand” against the schemes of the devil. What is it to be divided against oneself? It is to feel blame, shame, guilt or failure. I’ve heard it said by psychologists that guilt is the most destruction thing to the human personality. How good of God to make a way for us to come out from under it. Even under the Old Testament dispensation there was a way to have the weight of sin removed through sacrifice, something the world outside of Israel had no access to. Now we have not just the covering of the guilt of sin, but the removal of it and the way for the Spirit of God to indwell us, as He did in Adam and Eve before sin entered.
I also saw that Paul dealt with this issue as well and he came to the conclusion that “it doesn’t matter to me if I am judged by you or even by a court of law. In fact, I don’t judge myself. I don’t know of anything against me, but that doesn’t prove that I am right. The Lord is my judge” (1 Cor. 4:2,4). Wow. Did you get that? He does not take into account one thing against himself, but leaves the judgment, the assessment, to the Lord. It’s the Lord who judges, not Paul, and not we ourselves. We wouldn’t get it right anyway. God judges the motives of the heart, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I’m really in touch with my own heart at some deep levels. It often astonishes me what’s in there. But, thank God, to “the praise of the glory of his grace…He hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph 1:6). No matter what, I’m His!! There is no more meaningful statement to me. So when something comes up for which I become aware that I must repent, I do so. I turn away from the sin and thank God for forgiving me. But my thoughts are not constantly on myself, measuring whether I have fulfilled my quota of holiness for the day or the hour, nor am I aware of constantly trying to be good. I now can understand why St. Augustine, I think it was, said, “Love God and do what you want.” Because if you’re loving God, your not going to do anything that would displease Him and if it happens, your love for Him will bring you right back to faith in His forgiving atoning acceptance and love for you.
“Stop trying to stand Adam back up and let him die.”
So my Bible study group is fasting ‘self-conscious self-sanctification.’ We’re focusing on Yeshua instead. Our eyes are on Him. We’re appreciating what He has done for us. We’re rejoicing that the “angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and rescues them” (Psalm 34:7). So whatever might come against me, or seeks to pull me into it, He will rescue me, by His grace. How much more pleasing to God we are when we are appreciating Him and enjoying what He has done for us than if we are feeling badly for when we slip up. We’re either looking up, or looking down. Please understand what I’m telling you is not to excuse willful sin, but I can assure you that your acceptance of God’s acceptance of you will go a long way toward the change that will set you free. It’s like this, simply put. We must live out of the life of Messiah within us, and not keep trying to make the Adam in us good. Adam had to die. He has to die in us. He does not get resurrected. Stop trying to stand Adam back up and let him die. Only the Resurrected Yeshua can live a godly life through us to make us holy by His Spirit.
Now, if “faith comes by hearing” (Romans 10:17), even if you just “hear’ it in your head as a thought, whether it’s the Word of God we’re hearing or another “voice,” the principle is the same: What we listen to is going to have much impact upon how we think and live our lives. We need to determine whether the thoughts we’re thinking are our own thoughts, God’s thoughts or the devil’s thought. It’s easy to tell the difference. We want to agree with God, so if it makes us feel relief and peace, it’s God. If it makes us feel horrible about ourselves, or for that matter someone else, it’s the devil. Paul also said, about judging other people, “So don’t judge anyone until the Lord returns. He will show what is hidden in the dark and what is in everyone’s heart. Then God will be the one who praises each of us” (1 Cor 4:5). No judging ourselves or others. How wonderful! Ahhhh, peace. His peace.
Yeshua did say, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Are you living in His peace? He was going to the cross when He said that. Was He talking to Himself about what He was facing within hours? Was He saying to Himself, “I will not let my heart be troubled. I will not allow myself to be fearful.” Or was He really in peace and untroubled when He said those words, because He had settled in His heart a long time before what He would have to go through? These weren’t just words of bravado. Bravado wasn’t His way. His way was ultimate trust in His Father. Why then the Gethsemane struggle? I don’t presume to know. But I have given it some thought. His Gethsemane struggle gives us a picture of an emotional conflict we can only glimpse from afar. We too have been asleep like the disciples to His agony.
Besides, I personally believe that He had to go through it alone. That had to be the most alone any person ever was since the world began. What He went through was entirely human in nature, not God-like. That is to say, as the perfect sacrifice for sin, He had to be a perfect Man, not Perfect God. God can’t be a sacrifice to satisfy God. Blood was required to atone for blood (See Leviticus 17:11). God doesn’t have blood. God is a Spirit. Blood is a matter of physical bodies. His human identification was complete in the battle of His soul in Gethsemane – the place of submission, the place of obedience, the place of death to self. Yeshua died to His “Self” before the death to His Body took place. He could tell His disciples before Gethsemane that He was leaving them His peace because He knew what peace He had walked in all His life, trusting in God entirely. He also knew what the Word said. He knew what was to come: “He endured the cross, despising the shame,” yet He knew that he would sit down “at the right hand of the throne of God” when it was over. He knew that it had to be Him alone about whom it could be said that He could “keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 1:24).
The overarching theme of all that Yeshua went through is forgiveness, it was to eradicate any accusation of sin that has ever been leveled against mankind, individually and corporately. The proof that His payment was accepted by God is His resurrection to life again. By His act of supreme obedience, we are exonerated, which means to free from charges or show that one is blameless, to acquit, absolve, dismiss, let go, vindicate, or free! Halleluiah! So if we are exonerated, why listen to voices, even what seem like our own thoughts, when they clearly contradict the Word of God about the peace and forgiveness of God? God’s is the higher truth? Didn’t Yeshua say, “…this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4) So where is your faith? On what are you standing? Dismiss the voices or thoughts in your head against yourself, and make your paradigm, your life-view in agreement with the goodness of God as expressed in His Word that says. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all (that includes you), how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32), including your peace of mind.
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Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.