By ETHELBERT Okere
One big worry among Christians, including believers, is that their sins disqualify them from receiving God’s favour. This fear arises from the popular teaching and belief that God only blesses people who are without sin or who keep all His commandants. But as we have seen severally before, this is not the nature of God, neither is it His intendment for man.
God does not reward or bless any one because he or she has done well. God is good, not because we are good, but because He is good. Differently put, it is not true that your sins make you unworthy of God’s favour; or presenting yourself before Him. Unfortunately, many religious leaders give the erroneous teaching that to get God’s favour or to be a true worshipper of God, you must be without sins.
This is a dangerous teaching or belief because it stands against the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. Beloved, to live in fear of sins is to REJECT Jesus. This is because as we have seen in previous articles, Jesus took away all the sins of the believer by shedding His precious blood at the cross of Calvary. And as we have also seen severally before, Jesus took away ALL sins – past, present and future. All what is required of you is to BELIEVE in this. Not to believe in it is to reject Jesus.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not sin that leads man to hell; but the failure or refusal to accept that, by the death and resurrection of Jesus, all sins are forgiven for anyone who so believes and accepts Him as His Lord and Saviour. I know that some readers will quickly point at John 16:7-11 where the Lord Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the conviction on sin. The Scripture says: “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged”. Yes, verse 8 says the Holy Spirit “will convict the world concerning sin”, but just look at the next verse which says: “concerning sin, because they do not believe in me”. Beloved, you will be judged not on your sin but on your belief or unbelief on the perfect work done by Jesus Christ on the cross. The “sin” the Lord Jesus was referring to here is the sin of not believing in what he was about to achieve for mankind on the cross; not sin as we commonly talk about it under religion. The unbelief Jesus was referring to is about those who would not believe in the fact that by his imminent death and resurrection, you would be perfected forever.
The truth is that God does not keep a record of the sins of the believer. The moment you confess that Jesus died for your sins to be forgiven, God begins to see you through Him, Jesus, His son, because He took all your punishment. As recorded in Hebrews, God replaced the old covenant in which His relationship with man depended on how well the latter kept His commandants; with one predicated on His mercy and everlasting and unconditionally love. In Hebrews 8:8-12, God says, “…Behold the days come… when I will make a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… I will be for them a God and they will be to me a people… For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more”.
If you see yourself as haven had your sins forgiven, you will begin to live a life of peace, joy and boldness. It is only when you accept that your sins are forgiven that you can summon the courage to go boldly to the throne of grace and the embrace of the Lord; and thereunto talk to the Lord about everything you need, with the full assurances that He will meet them. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:16 thus: “let us have confidence, then approach God’s throne where there is grace. There, we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it”.
Those who teach that people have to be holy before they can seek the face of God do a big disservice to both God and Christianity. It is the reason why so many people are scared of going to church. In a previous column, we saw that “repentance” does not come before accepting Jesus. It is when people see the goodness of God (not their own goodness) that they can truly repent. In the conversion of Peter (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus first showed Peter and his colleagues the goodness of God before calling on them to follow Him.
Peter, also known as Simon, and his colleagues in the fishing trade, James and John, had toiled all night without catching any fishes. But after their encounter with Jesus during which He showed the goodness of His father in heaven, they did not hesitate in following Him, even abandoning the numerous fishes they had caught. Similarly, the woman in Luke 7:36-50 who fell on the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears got her sins forgiven. The Bible states clearly that she was a sinner but there is no record that she first confessed her sins before she worshiped Jesus. Even the Pharisees who knew whom she was wondered why Jesus allowed her to come near Him.
Beloved, come to Jesus just as you are. Come and worship God just the way you are, with all your atrocities. You don’t have to worry about your sins because you are coming to meet the very person who has already forgiven you. You don’t have to cleanse yourself first because you are going to a cleanser. Imagine first taking your bath with just a small bucket of water before going to a stream where you will have a limitless amount of water to bath with!
Yet, we have people who avoid going to Jesus simply because they have been told that they have to first make their lives right. Beloved, if you want to first cleanse yourself before coming to Jesus, then you will wait forever because you will never achieve that without Him. It is only by coming to Him with all your baggage that you can obtain the grace of God that will make you overcome sin.
Some may criticize the notion of living without the guilt of sin as encouraging people to go on sinning. But that is another big trap by the devil, whose preoccupation is to keep on reminding you that you are not worthy of presenting yourself before God. No true believer is looking for an excuse to sin. Many may be struggling with sin but they are looking for a way out. And that can only come by continually looking up to Jesus. Nobody can overcome sin through self effort. It is only by grace which comes through faith. Once grace come in, sin takes a run. Romans 5:20 says: “…where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” Say Alleluia.