This is the final post in a 17 week series entitled “the names of Christ in the Gospel of John”. The range of names from King and Lord to light, life and bread together give us an overall picture of Jesus Christ: God with authority over us, yet one who is always there for us !
God is God to us, and God is always there for us. Always. Whatever we may be feeling and whatever we may be going through, God is always there and always involved. Intimately.
For God has a purpose for each one of us. The world is a crazy place, with unbelievable evil and trial side by side with good and right. It is a place where sin reigns in the hearts of those estranged from God, but where the kingdom of God is at work to conquer evil.
Sin reigns in people’s hearts. That is the fundamental problem with this world. People are rebels against God, and the taint is in us all from birth. We are born with it because we inherit it. It is part of our spiritual DNA. We cannot escape it – though we try; we cannot ignore it – though we try; we cannot turn it into something good though we try that too.
We are helpless in the face of what we are. We are enslaved by sin; we are prisoners to sin; we give ourselves to sin because sin can be so pleasurable. But sin is costly too. It destroys our humanity; it destroys our sense of right from wrong; it destroys relationships; it can even end up destroying our health and our livelihood.
For the alcoholic and the drug addict, that is painfully clear. But it’s not at all clear to the upright who pay their way, and do good to others.
Please do not misunderstand me. We should live upright and responsible lives, and do good to others. Please don’t give that up !
Because we are made in the image of God, we are all capable of doing the right thing – and should. But that can deceive us into believing that we are completely good. That because we do some good, we are therefore wholly good and so alright with God.
Sorry – not so.
No-one starts out okay with God. No-one. That’s not just my opinion. It is God’s declaration in his word, the Bible.
To take just one example , the apostle Paul told the Romans this:
“all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”
And that “all” means ALL.
As a young man, I remember thinking, “Well, I’m not such a bad person”.
Now, I knew that was not God’s verdict so I prayed ” God show me that I am a sinner … “
Since that day 40 years ago I have been continually reminded of the sin in my own heart and the damage it can do …
We start out in the Christian life with the awareness or at least the mental acceptance that we are sinners; and that therefore we need a Savior called Jesus Christ because he died on the Cross in our place.
And the walk thereafter is often a painful one because we realise just how sinful we are, and that he alone is righteous. And yet God in Christ still loves us and wants to deliver us – to save us – from our self centredness.
Only Jesus can do that.
We cannot do it ourselves and indeed must not try to.
We must not try to determine for ourselves how sinful we are, or start looking for where we are sinful and how we must change. Please don’t do that. It is unhealthy and could be dangerous.
God is in control of all things, including the agenda for our sanctification. In his good time and in his good way, he will cause us to become aware of things he wants us to realise about ourselves, and what we need to confess and ask forgiveness for.
He will use circumstances and other people to make us realise what is wrong in a particular area of our lives. And that is the time for us to soberly recognise the issue, to apologise and to repent, asking for God’s grace to put it right, and determining in our heart to do as God requires, not as we desire.
With time we become aware that in fact we have no righteousness of our own at all, and that Jesus alone is our righteousness; and that all we can do is humbly accept his verdict that we are sinners in his sight, yet saved and loved by his grace.
Another word of warning. Never let Satan or others condemn you and make you feel so worthless that you might as well give up and sin like every one else. Yes we are fundamentally rotten self-centred sinners. But God does not condemn or crush us; God wants to save us. Why would he have sent Jesus to die for us if he had wanted to leave us overwhelmed in sin ?
It’s not our goodness that matters, but Jesus rightness. And the heart that is truly saved and truly God’s will accept this humbly. And that humility will respond to God by giving thanks for his love and soberly resolving not to offend Jesus and his grace again.
For it is Jesus who “shall save his people from their sins” !