Sometimes, Every one of us feels, Like we’ll never be healed, sometimes
Sometimes, Every one of us aches, Like we’ll never be saved, sometimes
-David Crowder, “Sometimes”
If you’ve been a Christian for any amount of time, I know you have had this question cross your mind. You brush it off, perhaps, or can defeat it for a time, but it soon creeps back in if you let it. You know it isn’t true. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you think it’s conviction or maybe you think it’s condemnation. Maybe it’s God or maybe it’s the Devil. It’s a simple question that if true would be the most terrifying, hopeless reality in all the universe.
“Has God given up on me?”
We’ve all been there, wondering if we have out-sinned the grace of God. Convinced that we have finally reached our limit. The well has run dry and now God will say “I’ve had it with this. I cannot keep bailing you out.” All of us have wondered this in some form or fashion as believers in Jesus.
Why do we feel this way? Because we know our sin. If we know anything to be true in this world, it is our own individual faults, flaws, and failures. We know our sin. We know its pain, its intensity, its depth, its stain, and its consequence for both us and Jesus. There have been times when I have sinned and the Holy Spirit has instantly spoken and said, “Because of what you have just done, your Savior had to die. Was it worth it?” Sin is serious. Much more serious than we often make it sometimes. We brush it off as simply bad behavior, or human nature, or “just who I am.” But sin is so much more than that. It is the very condition that has tarnished creation and demanded the death of the Creator.
Sin is intelligent. It is cunning. It sneaks up on our left when we are looking right. It catches us from behind when we are on the narrow path. It is dressed in beauty, enticing us to enter its embrace. And it knows us intimately. It knows who we are, what our flesh desires, and seductively whispers, “It’s all yours. Take me and you’ll have it.” We accept the invitation; then comes the darkness. Through the black that has surrounded our soul we hear the laughter of the one who only a moment ago seemed so friendly and inviting. “Fool!” it hisses. “How easily you are to deceive. You weak, selfish creature. You humans are far too easily satisfied! Your God has no use for you know. You are mine!” We turn, knowing the horror that has become our reality, and begin to retreat back to our Heavenly Father. But our Enemy has one more thing to say, “Where are you going? He’ll never take you back.” And, sometimes, we believe that to be true.
Truth and Lies
If this kind of illustration sounds familiar to you, you know how confusing this moment can be. You are trying to weed out the truth from the lies, hoping the truth is not as horrible as the lies make it seem. But that is exactly what is driving this torturous encounter – a lie.
In this moment, knowing Scripture (aka, being biblically literate, see my last post) will be one of your greatest weapons. So, what does Scripture say about this? Does God give up on us? Can we out-sin His grace? Will we ever be unable to retreat into the arms of Him whose death was required by our iniquity? Scripture responds with a clear and emphatic “NO!” The New Testament would oppose this thought on almost every page.
For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9:
He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
The Good Kind of Pain
Christ went to the cross for His enemies. In the words of the theologian/rapper Andy Mineo, “When you heard a story ‘bout the hero dying for the villain?” But that is exactly what Christ has done for us. If Christ was willing to die for you while you were His enemy, how could He possibly abandon you now that He has adopted you as His own?
Because He has saved you, your condemnation is no more. That means anytime you feel condemned, it is not of God. The Lord convicts, and conviction is most certainly painful, but it is not the hopeless feeling that comes from condemnation. Condemnation will tell you that you are beyond the grace of God. Conviction, however, if you think about it, is proof that you are not. Conviction is God’s way as our Father of speaking to our hearts saying, “This is wrong and you know it. You must stop this.” The Bible says that God disciplines those that He loves. If you were beyond saving, what would be the point of conviction and discipline?
Not only has He saved you, but Christ is continuing to save you from your sin as long as you live. The fancy theological word of this is “sanctification.” Sanctification is the process of becoming holy. Because only God is holy, He is the only one able to do this. And by His grace He has promised He will do this for you. So not only does He not condemn you, He also promises that He will continue to make you more like Jesus until you are united with Him in eternity.
This process is life-long, painful, and absolutely guaranteed to the believer in Christ. No, He has not given up on you. He is faithful, and Ephesians teaches us that His faithfulness started before you even came into existence. Before the foundation of the world, Paul writes, God had predestined you to be adopted as His child.
Do you realize what this means? It means that God knew beforehand what you would do, the sins you would commit, and He chose to save you anyway. God knew what He would have to deal with from you when He went to the cross for you, and He went anyway. Because He is faithful.
He knew you would abandon Him. He knew you would disobey. He knew you would not be perfect, and He knew you would go astray. He knew you would be rebellious. He knew you would desert His ways. But none of that prevents Him from loving you just the same.
If you are in Christ, but struggling with sin, welcome to the Christian life. This is the battle we endure until we see our Savior face to face. And we will see Him, because in spite of our sin, in spite of our rebellion, in spite of our wicked hearts that are prone to wander, He is faithful. He will not abandon you. He will never give up on you. And He does not regret saving you.
I think it’s only fitting to close this post with the video that inspired the title of this post. This is a sermon clip from Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, explaining what I’ve been trying to say better than I ever could.