Is God attractive to you? When you stumble across a Bible verse or a quote about the Christian life, are you drawn to it or repulsed? Whether we acknowledge it or not, each of us has a particular relationship with the God of the Bible, and this relationship is dependent upon the choices we make.
“He who believes in Him [Christ] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:18-19)
Years ago I tried to explain the relationship between God and us to our little children by drawing their attention to an ant. When I see it walking on the sidewalk, I can place an obstacle–a little twig or something else–in its path. It has no idea why that obstacle has been placed there or by whom, and it is doubtful that it has the mental capacity to comprehend what was going through my mind as I did it, yet the ant must respond to the obstacle in some way.
It is the same with us and God. He exists, and we are as able to understand Him as an ant can understand us. And just as I am not a figment of the little ant’s imagination, God exists entirely independently of whether I choose to believe in Him or not. To a certain degree, both the ant and I can try to walk around what has been placed in our lives from outside our reality for us to deal with, but deal with it we nonetheless must.
In the example of the ant, there is no way for me to understand what it is thinking or to meaningfully communicate with it if I so choose, so that is where this allegory ends. Yet God is able to communicate with us through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit, and He has given us a collection of writings compiled into one book–the Holy Bible–that does so. Additionally, there are various other writings–not what we call the inspired Word of God, yet nonetheless encouraging us to live holy righteous lives, many of which are also worthy of our consideration. So, what determines whether we are attracted or repelled by God and His communication with us? Jesus actually told us:
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)
When we have a clean conscience–when there is nothing in our lives that makes us feel uncomfortable or guilty–we do not feel condemned when we read the Bible and are much more open to hearing its message! When there is something in our lives that is wrong–something we are not willing to stop doing–we feel condemned by the Bible. And, since no one likes feeling bad, we avoid it. Yet avoiding our sins (which is what we’re doing when we avoid the Bible) is like the ant avoiding the stick. There is no way to not deal with it. The ant must either walk around it, climb over it, or turn back and go another way, but it cannot make the stick disappear from its path simply by pretending it is not there. In the same way, we cannot simply pretend our sins are not there and go on with our lives. We may try to ignore our sins, but once we are aware of them we must make a decision as to how we will respond to them. And any response other than repenting of–abandoning–them is the wrong choice and results in our being repelled by any further contact with God. So, what should we do if we want to feel good, if we want to have a clean conscience and be right before God? There are two things we must do to become right with God:
1) The first is that we must agree with Him about our sins–we must not deny them, or pretend we haven’t sinned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8)
2) The second thing we need to do is to trust in the shed blood of Christ to save us and subsequently never intentionally sin. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)
What happens when we do that? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9) When we agree with God as to our sinful state and repent of our sins, in His mercy through Christ, He forgives us.
But what if we subsequently mess up–if we sin again? “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2)
When we are live repentant lives, knowing that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and trying our best to avoid sinning, there will still be times when we sin. That’s when we can have assurance that if we repent and refuse to cling to our sins, we have Someone–Jesus Christ, God’s own Son–who is our Advocate–our Lawyer, pleading our case–before the Heavenly Father. It is His shed blood on the cross that is the propitiation–that paid–for our sins, and He is our hope–our only hope–of forgiveness.
So, is God attractive to you? Are you drawn by His message, or do you avoid it? Resolve today to agree with God and abandon your sins so that you, too, can be right with God and that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses…[you] from all sin!”
Dear Holy God,
Thank You that the penalty for all of my sins, no matter how great, has already been paid at the cross. Thank You that “he who believes in…[Jesus] is not condemned.” Help me to, “walk in the light as He is in the light” so that “the blood of Jesus Christ…[Your] Son cleanses…[me] from all sin!” Amen.