This phrase, “in the midst of the messy,” has been going through my head for about a month now. I like it. Because I’m somewhat of a literature geek, I like the alliteration almost more than the meaning behind the words. Almost.
Our God loves us in the midst of the messiness of who we are. We are flawed and imperfect, and yet He is the potter who is at work on His clay, molding and shaping us into something a little less messy than we were yesterday.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NASB)
He is the One who began the work and He is the One who is continuing to work so hard to complete the work. He is the One who works! Hallelujah! All we can do is rest. Just be the lump of clay. Be the branch who abides in the vine. Be the guy lying down in green pastures, resting beside still waters.
What a glorious freedom we have in Christ Jesus! We who have turned to Him for His grace and mercy and have been adopted into His family, we who are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). We have freedom to live our lives, to be loved by Him, in the midst of the messiness that is US. 😀
Brothers and sisters, we need not work hard to please Him. He is already pleased with us (because we believed in Jesus Christ). We need not try to change ourselves (because He is the One who is working to perfect the work He began). And we need not attempt to clean up the messes in our lives, the ugliness that is our sinful flesh.
Don’t get me wrong, I delight in cleanliness and neatness and order (when it comes to earthly things). But when it comes to my relationship with the Lord God, my sanctification, my right-standing with Him, I live knowing that there is no work to do in that regard.
He loves me just where I am; just as I am . . . it makes me adore Him all the more!
I love Him because He first loved me.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19, KJV)
God can and will teach the truth to His children. He explained the gospel to me without me even asking Him to. The following is a journal entry from December 9, 1991, just three months after my salvation.
God gave me understanding today as I was taking a shower. Thank You, Jesus, my God. My wonderful, loving God! I didn’t even ask for this – but I needed it. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for knowing my needs. God revealed to me the fall of man.
Before sin, Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God. They had a perfect relationship. That is why and how God created us to be. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace and happiness. Then Satan came along, stealing God’s serpent to speak through and tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin.
“No, God’s word is that we can’t do that.”
Satan said, “Oh, c’mon, you believe God’s word? Would he really punish you? He’s God. Did he really say that? C’mon, do what I say and you will know what evil is. Your eyes will be opened. You will know all things.”
O.K., they said. They were tempted and they followed and they sinned against their father’s word. God was grieved – he was hurt. Now they could see good and evil. Now they were unclean, unworthy of God.
God could not change what happened. He created us with the free will to choose him or to reject him. Adam and Eve chose to reject God. So the punishment for sin is death. Sin would have to lead to death. Sin had to be killed.
As Adam and Eve procreated, all their children were born as they were – separated from God by their sin. Nothing they could do could change that fact. We are born ungodly creatures. We are born as children of the devil. Our bodies are destined to death. Sin is contained inside our flesh and our soul. But God desires and yearns for his creation.
God does not want any of us to perish. But when he saw how sinful we had become, he sent a great flood and wiped out most everyone. That didn’t work. Then he sent us the 10 commandments and the Law spoken through prophets. It was written down and called Scripture. But the law couldn’t save us or take away our sinful flesh. God told us that he would send us a son. He said a child would be born by a virgin.
This child was born and he claimed to be God himself. But his words were rejected. He was hated and eventually was killed. The blood He shed on that cross fulfilled God’s word. That blood took away our sins. God rose from the dead and therefore overcame death. Satan was defeated, forever. But since we are sinful, we must now turn from our sin and accept God.
If we don’t believe that God’s blood was shed on the cross as a sacrifice to us, then how can we be saved? If we don’t believe, we are still living in sin. We remain as simply a creation that has rejected God.
When we come to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and that God rose him from death, then we become God’s adopted child and heirs to his kingdom.
How are we saved? All one has to do to be saved and to have eternal life in Jesus Christ is to truly believe that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins. That takes a leap of faith. Believing that is all you have to do. Then, to secure your salvation he sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of you.
Once you have the Holy Spirit – you are saved and you know it. You may not realize it is the Holy Spirit at first, but you will feel a rebirth. You are no longer the same person. You have been made whiter than snow on the inside. God now can see us and have a relationship with us. Because, when God looks at you, he sees the pure blood of Jesus. You are now justified. You have been born-again.
All you have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus was sent from God to die for us, and that he was raised from his death. You believe by faith, and you are saved through God’s grace. Ask God for the faith to believe. Ask God to reveal your sin to you.
God, help me to understand salvation. I want to share it with everyone. Lord, I want to be with you in heaven. I desire to love you, God. I want to obey.
(End of diary entry / December 9, 1991)
Again . . . I had only been saved for three months when I wrote this down. This diary entry from 1991 was inspired by God — He gave me His insight — yet, at the time, I did not have a complete understanding of the gospel; I did not fully understand Law versus Grace or the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant. And because I did not have a complete grasp on our total forgiveness in Christ Jesus, I would end up being led astray by legalistic teaching. I would end up spending the next 15 years trapped in a cage of deception. I explain my story of being led out of that cage here. (And for a much more detailed version, check out my testimony here.)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life!” Jesus answered. “Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14:6, CEV)
Jesus is “the truth,” and we can grow in our knowledge of the truth by growing to know the Lord Jesus.
This life of faith begins when God calls us. When we were lost and dead in our sins, He called out to us and revealed to us the gospel. (Romans 5:10). If we respond to the gospel message with faith, if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we can begin this brand-new life where God leads us “from faith to faith.” (Romans 1:17)
And like the Israelites who were set free from slavery only to wander around in circles in the wilderness for years and years, we too will have our years of wandering in the wilderness. For me, it was 15 years of being deluded by lies and false teaching, wandering in circles, passing my days as if I were stuck in a cage.
As Bob George used to say, “Truth sets you free. Error binds you.”
This captivity is alluded to in Isaiah 14, when Isaiah prophesied about Satan’s future by saying:
Those who see you will stare; they will ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made the kingdoms tremble, who turned the world into a desert and destroyed its cities, who refused to let the captives return to their homes?” (Isaiah 14:16-17, BSB)
He refused to let the captives return home! Satan is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy. He uses lies and falsehood to destroy us, to turn Christians into captives. And he refuses to let his captives return home.
But JESUS the MESSIAH is the mighty warrior who sets us free from our cages! Who fights on our behalf using the TRUTH to set us free. In other words, HE sets us free because He IS THE TRUTH.
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32, KJV)
After 15 years of being a captive, Jesus, the truth, set me free by leading me to discover my complete forgiveness (thank you, Bob George & Classic Christianity), and soon afterwards had me learning how to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (thank you, Aaron Budjen). We are forgiven people, and understanding this will totally transform your Christian life.
Since being set free, I have drawn close to Jesus; I have grown to know His peace and His rest . . . Even in the midst of life’s pains and problems — His peace which passes understanding remains with me.
I want others to know this joy that exists in the midst of suffering. This new life of freedom is so exciting! And it’s so real and true, that to me, it’s comparable to a Near Death Experience. It has been that life-changing for me. Just complete night and day.
So, my life today is about the freedom He’s given me. It’s not a freedom to sin, but a freedom to grow to know Him and His love for me. A freedom to receive all spiritual blessings, and to grow every day in the knowledge of His will: His glorious ‘last will and testament.’ It is a freedom to relax in the Promised Land of REST, freely enjoying His wonders, His beauty, His grace and His peace. Nothing can separate me from the love of God! And nothing can remove me from this land of peace.
Meanwhile, it hurts when I see my brothers and sisters living in cages. I write this blog today while somewhat heavy in heart; a good friend and sister in the Lord is being lured into a cage through the false doctrine of dispensationalism: the teaching that paints God as a schizophrenic madman who is mercurial and inconsistent. A God that is impossible to know. . . But I must let her go and let her stumble and learn; my friend is on her own journey of faith.
I can’t change anyone’s mind, but what I can do is write these words today and declare that there is a strong and mighty Lion who is fighting for us – the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He is fighting to set the captive free. He is the truth who can set you free.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)