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The God we ignore
- Jacob Ninan
God's character has many sides to it, and we know that two things that seem almost to be on opposite sides are His love manifested through grace and His holiness that cannot tolerate any sin. As Christians it is possible that we favour one of these two more than the other, and suffer consequent losses in our personal life. It is also possible that we swing from one to the other periodically as the Holy Spirit convicts us that we are deviating to the right or to the left (Is.30:21). One mark of growing in maturity is that we become able to hold both together in balance at the same time.
Many Christians suffer because they continue to behold God as a Judge who promptly and meticulously points out their smallest failure and frowns at them every time. They struggle to keep themselves in the good books of this God, even while recognising that it seems impossible to be able to do so. They are actually right in that, because no one can qualify himself before God by trying to be holy enough (Ro.3:20). Joy, peace, boldness etc., which other Christians speak about are foreign to these people. What we need to see here is the side of God that has the love and grace with which He accepts us just as we are. When He accepts us as His beloved children it is not because we have become acceptable to Him, but because we acknowledge our unworthiness and cling to His offer of grace through Jesus Christ. If we still feel 'unacceptable' of 'unworthy' after being accepted by God, we need to only look at the basis on which we are accepted -- Jesus Christ -- and reassure ourselves that God has indeed accepted us without reservation (Ep.2:4,5). If we fail, His everlasting love (Je.31:3) does not cease. If He accepted us when we were dead in our sins, He is not going to reject us once we have become His children (Ro.5:8,9). He who is the beginning and the end knew what all we would do in future when He picked us up, and is not shocked by our failures.
Many other Christians forget the holiness of God, taking His grace for granted. They don't think of how much God hates sin, and make no attempt to live a life that is pleasing to Him at all times. What we need to remember is that it is our sin that killed Jesus. What was crying out to Pilate, "Crucify Him"? Your sins and mine. Do we want to repeat that? We agree in principle, "God forbid!" (Ro.6:1,15). But if we are not making any effort to stop sinning it just shows that we are not actually concerned about it.
Yes, God has made provisions for our weakness in the flesh by giving Jesus as a continuing atonement for us (1Jn.2:1,2). But He does not want us to forget that He wants us to be holy because He is holy (1Pe.1:15,16). A life under true grace must also pursue after holiness. Otherwise we show that we have a false understanding of grace (He.12:14).
Paul knew grace and also how to keep a blameless conscience (1Ti.1:13;Ac.24:16). Let us not look at one at the cost of the other.