Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I got saved as a kid because I liked the idea of Jesus–and not burning in hell for eternity–so I believed He forgave me. Big deal. So what. Other than punching my ticket to heaven, getting saved had no real impact on my life because I didn’t understand what God had done in me. I now had the mind of Christ, but I was a wishy-washy Christian at best because I ignored Him as well as my true identity. Further, my mind was just beginning to be renewed so my old stinking thinking didn’t want to take this Jesus thing too far.
So when I finally decided to live out my true self as a child of God, I was very surprised at how the “life long” Christians began to attack me. They came out of the woodwork. Self-professing Christians began to buck-up, as if I was in competition with them. I was shocked. Hindsight is 20/20, and I shouldn’t have been so taken back. I now understand that a lot of these people don’t know Jesus at all–all they really know is Scripture memorization, church work, religion, and self-righteousness. It’s really sad.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (see Galatians 5:22-23). God’s Spirit lives in me, therefore I should be growing this fruit in my life at all times–no matter if I’m being attacked by confused Christians or non-Christians.
So when my old thought patterns decide to flip out on these types of people, the Holy Spirit calms me down before I act on those ideas. “Matt, it’s no big deal. Just let them talk. I know who you are.” Thankfully, as I’ve grown in God’s grace, more often than not I actually do just let it go.
So if you’re new to this, just know that the people who don’t like the fact that you’re talking about Jesus so much, they will attack, but so what. Overlook it and move on. If they want to have a legitimate conversation, proceed. But if not, don’t feel guilty about shutting them out. The enemy will use aggressive people to steal your joy so don’t let him. Over time, God will use their abrasiveness to strengthen your patience and hone your gifts. Eventually they will become non-factors in your life, simply angry barking dogs on short chains who can’t touch you.
However, before I began to show Jesus that I actually loved Him through my actions and attitudes, I was a Christian who still lived in hell–a self-made hell, in my mind. One reason was because I was constantly afraid of losing my salvation, which you can’t. Just like you can’t be un-born from your mom, you can’t be un-born after your spiritual birth either. You’ve been born of God and the DNA mix is final! (See John 1:12, 3:6-7, 1 John 3:9, Ephesians 1:5).
If that weren’t the case then the Cross wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and we are right back to attempting to earn our positions with God. We’re back to the broken “rewards system” of the Old Testament, which is now obsolete (see Hebrews 8:13).
What’s funny is, if you’re not Jewish, none of that Old Testament “obeying commandments and laws” applies to you. You’re a Gentile, an outsider. You’re not even part of God’s original chosen people to carry out those commandments and laws. Instead, you are just reading a history book and applying old recorded events to your own moral inventory. It doesn’t work that way. We have a new Covenant on this side of the Cross! (See Hebrews 8:6).
Only what Jesus did at the Cross allows you to be a part of God’s family (see Galatians 3:28). So no matter how many rules you think you’re obeying properly (there are 613 in all, not just 10)–all you’re really doing is running out onto the court in the middle of someone else’s basketball game. If you’re not Jewish, you can’t play. You’re a spectator. Only Coach Christ can draft you onto His team, by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9).
This brings us to the fact that our salvation through Christ was paid in full, finished, and complete–once for all time! (See John 19:30, Hebrews 10:10, 1 Peter 3:18). We get forgiven once of past, present, and even future sins! Yes, even future sins! Remember, all of your sins were in the future when Christ died. He is not bound by time, we are. Further, God doesn’t require us to keep asking for forgiveness–we’re already forgiven. Asking never forgave anyone anyway, only faith in perfect blood does (see Hebrews 9:22, John 3:16). And even more, continual asking is neurotic. We can relax because we’ve been perfected in spirit once for all time! (See Hebrews 10:14).
Even the Jews before Christ’s sacrifice, they got an entire year of forgiveness at the Day of Atonement. They never asked God, “Will you forgive me?!” each time they broke the Mosaic Law because they knew only blood could cover up those sins. Jesus, however, actually takes away our sins, rather than cover them up! (See John 1:29, 1 John 3:5).
As you begin to understand the truth of Christ’s final sacrifice, and your true identity as a reborn saint, you will organically become bold! Here’s more on how to do just that!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, you are such a good God! Please continue to teach me more and more about your grace, and give me boldness as you do! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them feel weak, but the truth is they’re strong! Teach them who they are as believers, and what Christ has done for them! Then help them to live it out! In His name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!