Monday, January 24, 2011

Never Directly

from Jerry Bridges' Daily Devotional

“We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.”  (Hebrews 10:19)

“Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they've earned God's blessing through their behavior. Guilt-laden believers are sure they've forfeited God's blessing through disobedience or lack of discipline. Both have forgotten the meaning of grace—God's unmerited favor to those who deserve only his wrath.

Most of us probably entertain either of these attitudes on different days. On a good day (as we perceive it), we tend toward self-righteous pharisaism. On a not-so-good day, we allow ourselves to wallow in a sense of failure and guilt. Either way we've moved away from the Gospel of God's grace, trying to relate to God directly on the basis of our performance rather than through Christ.

God never intended that we relate to him directly. Our own performance is never good enough to be acceptable. The only way we can relate to him is through the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Only the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from a guilty conscience and give us confidence to enter into God's presence (Hebrews 10:19-21).

The Gospel, applied every day to our hearts, frees us to be brutally honest with ourselves and with God. The assurance of his total forgiveness through Christ's blood means we don't have to play defensive games anymore. We don't have to rationalize and excuse our sins. We can say we told a lie instead of saying we exaggerated a bit. We can admit an unforgiving spirit instead of continuing to blame others for our emotional distress. We can call sin exactly what it is, however ugly and shameful it may be, because we know Jesus bore that sin in his body on the cross. We have no reason to hide from our sins anymore.”