Sometimes when people are trying to get others to believe them, they will resort to saying things like “it’s the God’s honest truth! Or “if God should strike me dead!” Growing up, we often heard this one, “honest to God!” Hopefully we all know that God certainly knows if we are witnessing to the truth or a lie.
In my lifetime I have witnessed many lives changed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit at work in the hearts of men, women and children. A real born-again experience is usually characterized by a liberating sensation. An individual suddenly realizes that God Himself has forgiven their sins and that they are truly and fully guilt free before Him!
It is not either uncommon for individuals to go through a range of emotions and doubts soon afterwards. They have an enemy at work behind the scenes, tempting them, working to discourage and confuse them. It is at this point that a solid foundation and caring leadership can make a huge difference. I happened to have been blessed with that kind of support as a young Christian, but in my Pentecostal background, I have found that all are not so fortunate.
Conversion can be a powerful emotional experience. But our emotions can easily be swayed. Often when that initial emotional high diminishes, we begin to wonder. Have I drifted away from the love of God! Have I lost something? Have I sinned? If a sin is committed, we are not sure of what to do about it. Should we respond to the next alter call? Should we offer some sort of penance? Or do we need a new spiritual experience, a new revelation?
Once I was discussing with a young Christian the fact that the Christian life is about a relationship with God. He tried to explain to me that he understood human relationships, because we physically see, hear and touch one another. Since God is a Spirit, we cannot see Him with our physical eyes, hear Him with our physical ears, or touch Him physically.
In fact, for many the first time they sense the real presence of God is at their initial conversion to faith in Christ. Often they sense His presence for days or weeks afterwards, but their necessary involvement with this life soon distracts them. It’s kind of like a young couple on their honeymoon. When they finally have to settle into life with jobs and housekeeping, a greater effort is required to keep the romantic aspect of the relationship alive.
The new Christian then learns the regular activities of the Christian life: prayer, Bible reading, church meetings, giving to the work of the Gospel etc. These activities can and should help us continue to be conscious of His Presence, but not always. What can easily happen is that we relate more to the activities themselves than in their purpose, to remind us of our relationship with our Savior and Lord.
Is it possible that we can become more focused on how to get to heaven, and what requirements must be met, than just the simple fact that we have been reconciled to God through Christ? Now that we are in Christ, how can our relationship with Him grow? How can we come to more fully know and love Him? What is it that truly pleases Him?
In recent years there is much discussion on whether or not Christians should confess their sins before God. The passage in 1 John 1:7-10 is seen as a threat to the security of the believers salvation. Nowhere does John say that a believer loses his salvation when he sins, and must confess sins to regain that salvation. Because of this wrong assumption, the passage must be twisted to mean something else.
It seems so counter to grace, unmerited favor, that some insist that these verses must be intended for unbelievers or Gnostics, those of a counterfeit faith. We are to confess only our righteousness, not our sins, they say. First of all it is His righteousness not ours that is at work in us. We are the children of God, no longer of the darkness. We all know, however, that believers can and do sin.
1 John 1:8-2:1:
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
John is writing to the believers that their joy might be full! (1 John 1:4). He knows that they are still God’s children even after they sin. They do not lose their salvation, but they will lose their joy and victory. You can say anything you want about grace and unmerited favor, I contend that God expects honesty from His children.
When my son was little, I questioned him about something he should not have done. When he denied it, I had to teach him that the act was not as bad as the lie. Mistakes happen, but we all should be learning to avoid them in time. I wanted his joy to be full. I wanted trust in our relationship. I wanted him to grow in grace to a successful adult and fruitful child of God.
Do you think our Heavenly Father cares any less for our progress in Him? He knows we need to be open and honest before Him. He already knows the situation, and He has graciously supplied the remedy. This remedy was discovered by King David of old time, a great believer who commited great sins. He humbled himself before his God, Who restored unto him the joy of his salvation! (Psalm 51). Are we looking for the restoration of David’s tabernacle? Maybe we first need the restoration of David-like humility and honesty before God!
He understood the need for “truth in the inward parts.” Unlike many religious people in the past and present, he knew that no ritual or outward good deed could take the place of an honest and humble heart.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart , O God, you will not despise.
For thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
These conditions transcend the law and the Old Covenant. They are keys to the very heart of God!