Last week I had “one of those days” where everything seemed to go wrong, and I responded in a way that was even more wrong, revealing the sinfulness that still plagues me as a Christian.
I ended up sitting down in a terrible mood, fully aware of how ridiculous I was being…realizing that the small disappointments of my day were really not as big of a deal as I was making them and that, despite the somewhat unfortunate circumstances, it was completely wrong for me to be so angry, bitter and upset.
And I heard God’s Words ring out so clearly…
“… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (I Tim. 6:6-8)
I was cut to the heart, so disappointed by my ungodly attitude and the ungratefulness I was displaying. I had clothes and food – and sooooo much more, including Christ Himself – yet I was so discontent.
So I approached my God and repented, asking for forgiveness … grateful that the cross has made it possible for a sinful woman, full of wrong desires and attitudes, to come into the presence of a Holy God. He is the only One who can change me and shape my discontented heart into a heart that is satisfied in Him. He is daily changing me more and more into His image. As I behold His glory, I am transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
I am so thankful that I do not have a high priest that is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way as I am – yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). I am grateful that, because of the daily, ongoing high-priestly role of Christ, I can approach the throne of grace with confidence – not self-confidence, but confidence in Jesus – and receive mercy and grace to help me in my time of need. (Heb. 4:16).
I have one who speaks (present tense) to God in my defense when I sin – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One (1 John 2:1). I am not the Righteous One, but by putting my faith in Him, I am united to the One who IS righteous. I don’t come before God based on my own merit or goodness as a righteous person, but based on the righteousness of my Mediator, Jesus.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:5-6).
I don’t mediate between myself and God, nor do I have to convince myself that I am somehow perfect enough to do so.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Cor. 4:6-7)
There is a widespread view in the church that says that a holy God cannot exist with sin…that He cannot live in a sinful human being without contaminating/compromising His holiness…and that we have to be perfect before God can dwell in us. However, this idea that we have to be made holy to approach God is actually the old covenant way of relating to God!
The truth is that God could not be just and holy without punishing sin. Leaving sin unpunished and still dwelling in sinners – THAT would compromise His holiness and His justice.
But God has condemned my sin in Christ (Romans 8:1-4). He has punished my sins by laying them on my sinless Savior and killing Him.
Now, when God fills an unholy vessel like me with Himself (as a result of that vessel’s faith in the pleasing, perfect sacrifice of Christ), that shows forth His justice, His holiness, His purity and His glory!
Isn’t is glorious that God shines His light into darkened hearts?
That He breathes into dead souls and says, “Live!” ?
That He places the treasure of Himself in “jars of clay” – broken, cracked, imperfect pots – so that all may know and see that this power, this holiness, this glory, this perfection is FROM GOD and belongs to Him, not to us?
In the words of the great reformer, Martin Luther:
Christ dwells only with sinners.
For it is sinners who see their need for a Savior.
It is those who are sick (and know it) who need (and want) a doctor (Mark 2:17).
As much as I grow in the sanctification process, I will never reach the place where I don’t need the mediation of Christ…where I no longer need Him to make intercession for me, speaking to the Father on my behalf. He is the only Righteous One, and my high priest FOREVER (Heb. 6:20). Hebrews 7:24-25 says:
…he [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
The reason we as Christians are saved completely (i.e. “to the uttermost”) is not because, at our conversion, God makes us (or some part of us) completely holy and perfect. We are saved “to the uttermost” because Jesus always and continually and forever lives to intercede for us…standing as the mediator between us and God…covering us in His righteousness and holiness…the continually perfect High Priest of His imperfect people.
In the words of Hillsong:
♫ Invading all my weakness / You wrapped me up in grace /The worst of me succeeded by the best of You / Chorus: And the less of me it is You / Increasing as I fade away / Your light for all the world to see / God It is You who breaks the chains / It is You who lights the way / And everything I am cries out for You ♫
♫ You are good, You are good / When there’s nothing good in me / You are love, You are love / On display for all to see / You are light, You are light / When the darkness closes in / You are hope, You are hope / You have covered all my sin ♫
Jesus Christ is the better hope by which we draw near to God (Heb. 7:19).
As one of my friends once put it, the only difference between me and someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus is that His light shines through my cracks.
I’m just a clay pot like the next person.
Jesus Christ is my only hope.
He is my light.
May He increase as I decrease (John 3:30).