We can divide people into three simple groups, the lost, the looking, and the found.
The lost are those without God and content. They are mostly unaware of their condition and unfavorable standing before the creator of the universe. They move along the path of life not knowing that they are dangerously close to an eternity separated from God and all that is good. But one day it will be over, and all will be lost, most thoroughly and completely lost, as their souls slip from flesh into the darkness of a godless abyss.
Those in the next group, the “looking” group, have been stirred within their hearts to at least recognize that they have a need. A void of emptiness or even a nagging sense of sin that they feel will be called to account one day. It drives them to try and do good and even join some kind of a religion in order to do what they can to reach up towards God in hopes that they may earn some heavenly credit they can trade for entrance through the pearly gates. People in this category who are constantly seeking for ways to be good are often miserable because unlike the unaware state of those in the “lost” group, these are very aware that even with all their effort they are still falling short and always live with a sense of failure.
Those in the third group, the “found”, have had their eyes opened to see the realities of life and eternity. They see their sin. They see what Jesus has done on the cross by shedding His blood and dying as punishment for their sin. They throw themselves at His mercy asking for grace and forgiveness – and they get it. They sense the relief that comes when the unbearable weight of sin and guilt is removed from their shoulders and taken up by Christ. They are free, they are loved and accepted, even though they deserve none of it. It leaves them speechless and in awe of God’s mercy.
But wait – There are some in this third group who are unaware of the one the bible calls the “enemy of our souls”. The one who tries to kill and destroy and steal the gift they have been given.
Because the believer is not instantly made perfect in word and deed the devil tries to turn their eyes to their own failings rather than Christ and His mercy. If they take the bait they will buy the lie that to keep Christ’s love they must work to earn it. Because they still struggle with sin they conclude that God must be mad at them and ready to cast them off. They pick the weight of sin and guilt back up as they try to appease an angry God. This results in a worse state of miserable guilt than what they started with because now they know they will never measure up, always fail, and always feel shame that causes them to hide from God in the shadows – but it is all false. Just a device of the enemy to steal what the believer has found in Christ.
So how do we fight this predictable attack from Satan?
First, rest in Christ rather than perform. Your performing does not keep you in salvation, He keeps you. Quit trying to earn His love – you already have it! Should we serve Him? Of course, but the question is why are you serving Him – in order to keep your salvation, or because you have salvation? We do not serve Him out of sheer duty, but rather out of gratitude. We love Him, because He first loved us, and He chose us, we did not chose Him.
1Jo 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit– fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
Eph 2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
In other words, the good works we do are a result of salvation not a way to obtain it.
Secondly, we need to remember when the believer’s name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and when you were chosen by God. It wasn’t after you cleaned yourself up and got it all together, it was before the creation of the world. Before you had even sinned one time, God had already written your name down. That ought to do something for you. He knew every sin you would ever commit, yet still loved and wanted you, because He also saw you coming into a loving relationship with Him and how He would radically change your life.
Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Re 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
No doubt, if you are a follower of Christ, there will be an attempt to deceive you into thinking it all depends upon you and your behavior. If you take the bait, you will be miserable and paralyzed in the kingdom of God. But don’t take the bait, know you are accepted because of what Christ did, not what you did or didn’t do. Know that He chose you knowing full well you would fail and that you would be so very imperfect, and know that He wrote your name down before you were ever born. So rest in Him, do what’s right because you love Him and want to please Him out of gratitude, not fear of punishment.
It’s in this place of rest and trust in the mercy of God, that the power of the Holy Spirit flows to help us be more like Christ and more able to live a life that honors Him.
In Christ, the guilty go free.