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!
- Refuse to live in fear. First and foremost stop being afraid of God. As a believer in Jesus’ forgiveness you are saved! You are His child! Yes, He understands you will mess up in your attitudes and actions, that’s why He sent Jesus here to do what you can’t. But never be afraid of God! Instead, listen to His Holy Spirit and be your true self!
- Let God use your past. For me, it’s addictions, among many other things. I let God use this former weakness of mine to help others. I could look back on my past and cringe. I could deny it, or worse, try to hide it. I could even try to minimize it but God doesn’t want that. He wants me to talk about it with honesty and clarity, and then point to His grace as to the reason why I am who I am today. I finally understood this when I read 2 Corinthians 12:9: “Then He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
- Don’t compare yourself to others. Being bold in who God made you to be will be impossible if you do this: strive to be exactly like other people. This is a trick of the enemy because you can’t do this! Yes, be inspired and learn from others, but be yourself! God likes you and wants you to be you! Being yourself is imperative to living boldly because you are the best version of you! You are awesome!
- Do something! Be willing to allow God to live through you each day. When you do this it attracts Satan’s attention greatly, so be ready. He’s not so much worried about you being a child of God if you’re not active. To get at you, whatever or whoever you place your trust and confidence in, the devil will hold it over the flames–but you’ll be fine. Just keep going! Keep making yourself available for good works, take action, and be bold! You’ll accomplish this feat in the best way possible by simply being yourself and resting in God’s grace!
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!