Are you God’s favorite? Do you mentally excuse yourself when you feel like doing something you know you shouldn’t, because, after all, you’re “in Christ;” you’ve accepted Jesus? Do you think you’re now in some kind of special category and can get away with with things others can’t; that God will excuse you or let you squeeze by, even though others can’t? Don’t.
“God does not have favorites.” (Romans 2:11 CEB)
Did you catch that? God has no favorites; it really doesn’t get plainer than that, and when Scripture is as straightforward as it is here, we’re on very dangerous ground not adjusting our behavior to conform with what God is telling us. But what about my faith in Jesus? Doesn’t that exclude me from accountability, or at least give me a special status–some kind of extra “brownie points?” Didn’t Jesus say, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” (John 5:24-25 NIV)
Of course He did. But the gaining of eternal life, the crossing over from death to life Jesus refers to here, begins in this life at the moment of faith, not after we die. Because He also said, “For You [Father] granted Him [Jesus is here referring to Himself] authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” (John 17:2-3 NIV)
God gives us eternal life–that new birth we always hear about–the moment we come to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ; it is at that moment we pass from death to life and avoid judgment. But this kind of faith that generates eternal life in us is a faith that acknowledges Christ’s preeminence and authority over us in every area of life and submits to His redeeming work of holiness in us.
If I am still rebelling and seeking to cut corners, or trying to get away with sin, it means my mind is set on sin, not on God working in me or me reflecting His holiness–so how can I presume to claim to genuinely know the heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? How could I think not only about doing, but of also then trying to get away with, sin if I have really renounced it in my life and live in the light that is “Christ in me, the hope of glory?!” To the contrary, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
Some serious Bible students might notice that this verse is followed by an affirmation that true righteousness is gained through Christ, not the law, and it is--God attributes Christ’s holiness to us when we genuinely trust in Him. Yet our trust in Him–our faith–must be serious enough and genuine, because God warns us to make sure we have that kind of faith. Real faith gives us a new birth and attributes Christ’s holiness to us, causing us to pass from death to life; false faith fails to recognize the gravity of sin and the fact that Jesus came to save us from our sins rather than let us remain mired in them–even and especially in the here and now!
Some will argue that it is not possible for us to be completely holy in this world, before Jesus comes back and we’re resurrected. Yet to completely ignore the fact that He came to undo the terrible effects of sin in us and the world, and disavow any personal responsibility for wantonly sinning, is to completely miss God’s purpose for us who believe in Jesus of “…being built like living stones into a spiritual temple…being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 CEB)
So, are you God’s favorite? Can you freely embrace sin and get away with it–even “because of Christ?” If you think you can, you’ve completely missed the gospel message of what faith is, because “…having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Corinthians 7:1 NKJV)
Dear Lord Jesus,
Help me get it, what true faith in who You are and what You can accomplish in me is, and realize that as much as You love me, You do not have favorites, but expect me to “cleanse…[myself] myself of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Amen.