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Have you had work projects around your home that caused it to be more of a mess before it looked good? Sometimes that is the way the changes GOD is making in us appear.  I sometimes feel that I’m more of a mess than I was a few years ago. But I also realize that I’m more aware of things in my life that are a mess than I was a few years ago too. Fortunately, I’m also aware of how huge GOD is. I think my view of Him now is much larger and grander than it ever was. That is a double-edged sword. It shows me how grand and glorious He is and by contrast, how much of a mess I am. When I don’t see Him as so grand, it is possible for me to see myself as much better than I truly am.

Just remember, you can’t tell about the messes people are struggling with by how they look on the outside! I have known people who look great on the outside who are struggling with surprising demons and hardships in their personal lives. There is no way to tell by how they look.

The hard thing is that it is so easy to want to slide. We say we want to live in dependence on GOD, but the reality is that most of us tend to want to live independently…that is, until we run into a big problem! Then, we are like the 2 or 3 year old who is in a big hurry to run back to mamma for help, wisely!

We want to live independent of God

My personal bent…and that of most of us, is toward independence.  I want to do things the way I want, when I want to do them.

This could be the mantra of most of the human race…at least according to Romans 1:18ff.  We aren’t inclined to accept gifts unless we feel that in some way, we have earned them…at least partially.

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32 ESV

Could there be anyone more difficult to accept a gift from than a Holy God?  I mean, a truly Holy God who is blameless and is not faking His holiness.  Of course, we don’t deserve a gift from Him.  That is the point! Neither can we ever do Him a favor or pay Him back. He doesn’t need anything. There is nothing we can do to meet a need He would ever have.

We want to do something to earn our way

Especially when it comes to salvation.  We want to earn our way to God, at least in some way.  If we believe in Biblical salvation, we at least want to earn our sanctification!  We come to God to be “saved” because at some level, we have realized that our sinfulness and His holiness cannot live together in the same place!

I don’t know about you, but it has taken me a long time to actually “get” that I really am sinful.  My self-righteousness reaches to my core!  I don’t like to think about the fact that I’m depraved.  That sin and brokenness reaches every part of me.  I am a mess!

On the other side, God is holy. He is totally and completely pure and blameless. He can’t be around sin.

One of our pastors uses the illustration of the sun and ice.  God’s holiness is like the sun.  My sinfulness is like ice.  It can’t exist as ice in the presence of the sun!  It isn’t personal.  It just isn’t possible!  Ice melts in the presence of the sun and is no longer ice.  In God’s presence, I can’t remain the same.  I can’t exist in my present sinful state!

So for many of us, we understand our need for basic salvation, at least on some level.  The truth is:

  • We need Christ to make us into a new creation.
  • We need Him to make us alive in Him because we are naturally dead spiritually without Him.

Only One who could pay for sin; Holy God-Man Jesus Christ

So His grace has reached down to save us.  He paid for our sin.  Now, His perfect record of obedience is ours.  We are dressed in His righteousness if we are “in Christ”.  On the cross, He took on Himself our record of sin and failure.  That is what He died to pay for.  That is what He was talking about when He said, “It is finished.”

He paid the record for all sin of all time…that means He paid for all the sin you would ever commit in your lifetime.  It is simple…and yet, for many of us, complicated. We are independent!  We don’t want to accept charity…no matter how much we need it!

This is the simple message of Christmas!  …and Easter and each Sunday as well.  Hallelujah!  God is with us. He is risen!  The ransom has been paid for sin…and it was accepted! He came to us, in our mess, to save us.  He died.  Now He is alive again!

Sadly, we see ourselves as being on our own, so to speak, to live the Christian life.    But we’ll go there next time.

I’ve gone on about the “Basics” and don’t want to lose your attention for some really great news about living the Christian life…to be continued…

Are you “in Christ?”

  • How does that affect your daily life?  
  • Your living in guilt?  
  • Your feelings of inadequacy?  
  • Your issues with shame?

 originally published 11/30/2011. updated 9/14/2019