Approaching God

In a previous post I wrote about how I used to be fearful when approaching God. I used to think He was angry at me, waiting for an opportunity to punish me.  This was before I came to know the goodness and kindness of His character, and before I understood how righteous I was made through the sacrifice of Jesus.

If you understand and have faith in how complete the price was that Jesus paid on the cross, you are blameless before God. Now you don’t have to shy away from Him in fear and run away from His presence – you can boldly approach Him with confidence in your salvation. There are numerous verses to back this up:

“In Whom, because of our faith in Him (Jesus), we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).” Eph 3:12

“The wicked flee when no man pursues them, but the [uncompromisingly] righteous are bold as a lion.” Prov 28:1

Remember that the last verse does not refer to a righteousness earned through good works and a perfect life – it is a righteousness given as a gift when we become born again (Rom 3:22).  The only thing that can now separate us from God is self-condemnation in our own hearts:

“And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God…” 1 John 3:21

God does not condemn you – it is your own heart. Luckily – He is greater than our hearts! Through Jesus we can approach Him confidently, boldly and with a perfectly clear conscience. All that remains for us is to get to know Him and live in a relationship with Him.

My story

I wanted to use today’s post to share a little bit of my testimony with you. I gave my heart to the Lord when I was 10, and really had a special relationship with Him ever since. Somewhere along the line a very strong message of condemnation crept into my heart, and I just never felt I measured up to His standards.

I had an incorrect view of God – seeing Him as an angry judge, waiting for me to slip up somewhere. I believed I needed to live perfectly holy in order to draw closer to Him, so any time I would slip up I would fall into a deeper pit of condemnation. It got so bad that I suffered from depression while I was studying.

My life changed the night I went to a church meeting at Immanuel Bedieninge – a ministry in Potchefstroom. This was the first night I heard the message of grace, and the true miracle of Jesus’ sacrifice. Two key messages changed my life:

  1. God is not angry with me. When He looks at me, He only sees Jesus, and how righteous I am through faith in Him.
  2. I don’t have to perform in order to draw closer to God. I can live from the depths of my soul in a deep relationship with Him, knowing I am righteous in Christ.

Condemnation really creeps up on people without them even noticing. What usually disappears first is their joy, then their freedom, and ultimately their boldness towards God. We can draw near to Him boldly without fear – what a LIBERATING message! I am so overwhelmed by His goodness!

“Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” Heb 4:16

The truth about ‘backsliding’

I used to fear ‘backsliding’ before I heard the truth.  Condemnation can be so consuming that Christians even fear for their salvation, as if it is something that can be undone.  This simply is not true.  If a person is truly born again, believing in Christ and what He did for us on the cross, he is born again.  Just as a baby cannot re-enter his mother’s womb and be ‘unborn’, we cannot become ‘unborn again’.

1 Peter 1:23 says we have been born again, not of corruptible, but incorruptible seed.  That means even if we decide to return to a life of ‘sin’, we cannot lose our salvation.  Becoming born again is a permanent change!

I believe the feeling of separation associated with ‘backsliding’ is only due to condemnation.  You notice you are not ‘adhering to the rules of the Christian life’ and suddenly your eyes are covered by a veil (2 Cor 3:15).  This means you are unable to see God, and His grace and kindness.  But – the moment you just turn to God, that veil will be stripped off! It’s as simple as that!

Don’t waste time feeling guilty about ‘backsliding’, shying away from God’s presence because you feel unholy.  Just turn around and see God’s grace! Approach Him with boldness, knowing you are the righteousness of God in Jesus (2 Cor 5:21).