- [Rom 3:23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
- [Rom 6:23] For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- [Rom 5:8] But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- [Rom 3:26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
- [2 Cor 5:17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
I was brought up in a family that considered it important to be baptized and confirmed and to go to church, which we faithfully did. This influence made me somewhat religious, but produced neither peace in my soul, nor an understanding of the ways of God. I did not have a personal acquaintance with God, or even the awareness that one was possible.
While I was in college, a fellow student one day asked me a serious question -- “If you were to die, would you go to heaven or hell?” I said, “I don't know, probably hell.” He proceeded to tell me how greatly God loved people, but that because we are all defiled by sin, and because God is holy and righteous and just, there is a barrier between God and man. God’s holiness demands perfect righteousness! How could God overcome this problem? My friend explained it this way. God became a man, lived a perfect life, and died as a substitute to satisfy the demands of His justice and righteousness. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ set God free judicially to lavish His love and grace upon mankind -- upon all that would come to Him in faith, accepting His free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
It was only then that for the first time in my life it all made sense to me, even though I had gone to church since my childhood. My friend said that it is not enough just to give intellectual assent to what he had just said, but that one must receive Jesus Christ into his life. He quoted this saying of the Lord Jesus: [Rev 3:20] ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ I struggled with that for a while. I did not think that I had the strength to live the kind of life God required. But finally, in the quietness of my own heart without even telling my friend, I yielded my life to God. I simply asked Him to take over complete control of my life.
I didn’t realize it immediately, but a supernatural change came over my life at that instant. I noticed that certain sins just fell away without any struggle. I had an incredible thirst for the Word of God, and a new ability to understand it and relate it to life. Previously I had made a couple of efforts to get into the Bible but eventually gave up. I just didn’t get it. Now the Author of the book lived inside of me! It was amazing! I started to pray and see remarkable answers to prayer. I began to understand what the apostle meant when he said 'If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.' I was indeed a new person and that change gave me a purpose for my life that I had never had before and which I could never have had without the Lord.
I found that being born into the family of God does not make one immune to troubles or suffering, but that through faith the believer can overcome all things. Peter put it this way: [1 Pet 1:5-7] ‘Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.’
It may be that some reader of this account is in the same state that I was -- religious, a church member, but lacking a vital, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Lacking assurance of being accepted by God. Remember, God’s holiness requires perfect righteousness. He does not want any of your own. He will absolutely reject it. [Isa 64:6] ‘But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.’ The only way that you can have perfect righteousness is to be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. And you can get that only by faith in Him. Trust Him to clothe you with His righteousness today.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.
Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.
Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.
When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.
Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me --
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.
O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.
Nikolaus L. von Zinzendorf, trans. John Wesley