Matthew Henry once said, “It is not humility, but infidelity, to put away the offers of the gospel, as if too rich to be made to us or too good news to be true.”
When I was young, I wasn’t a perfect child, because, well…those don’t exist. Like any other young kid, I was terrified when I did something wrong, not because I understood how much it hurt my mom or my grandparents, or whoever it may be, when I disobeyed them, but because I feared punishment. So instead of drawing near to my leaders, I ran away. I still have a clear memory of hiding on the playground one time just because I had said something mean to another kid and didn’t want my teacher to find me and punish me.
It is not natural for us to run toward the person we offend. We withdraw because we are fearful. We fear punishment, loss of reputation, loss of relationship, and a multitude of other losses.
And yet the God of the universe, the only one truly worthy of fear and trembling, commands us to run TO Him when we sin against Him. 1 John 1:9 tells us we can confess our sins in repentance before the Lord and trust Him to forgive us and help us change into the men and women God’s called us to be.
But running toward God doesn’t make a lot of sense, because, after all, God is holy, and we are sinful, and our sin merits His wrath and eternal destruction. And of course, those things are true. But God is also a God of grace that desires all people be saved (1 Tim. 2:4). We know we can repent and trust God to forgive us because it is God who gives us repentance and faith (2 Tim. 2:25). This is amazing news. This is ridiculously good news–He whom we have most offended, He who has the right to condemn us for all eternity, welcomes us back with open arms, no matter how bad we’re struggling. And He doesn’t just invite us back and wait on us–He runs to us, like the father in Luke 15. He takes the initiative to seek us out and grant us repentance. While we absolutely must repent and trust Christ, it is by God’s power and grace that we can do this.
Notice what is missing from 1 John 1:9–qualifications for forgiveness. Jesus offers forgiveness for the “little” sins and the “big” sins. Whether you stubbed your toe and cursed, or whether you murdered someone, Jesus is ready to be your Savior. And while this doesn’t mean there are no consequences here on Earth for your actions (such as prison for the murderer), it does mean you don’t have to fear condemnation from God, because you know through the cross of Christ and His resurrection, your sins have been paid for and you are trusting in Christ for your salvation.
We need to run to Christ. Let all talk of Jesus only wanting those who kinda sorta have it together end. Jesus came for the weak, for the sick, for the sinner that cannot get it together. And let’s be honest: do any of us truly have it all together? Certainly not, especially not compared to a holy God! Jesus came and died because you don’t have it together, because you are not and never will be good enough to stand righteous before the Father, because you are a sinner in need of a Savior.
If you’re a little sick, you take a little medicine. You probably don’t even have to go to the doctor. But if you have a terminal illness that you know can be treated, you run with abandon to the nearest hospital. So why, when we are struggling with sin, do we run away from the Savior? When we’re really struggling with sin, when we’re falling more than we usually do, that is a time to run to Christ, not away from Him! The last thing God wants is for us to try and do His job–this is pride of the most deceptive kind, because it comes under the guise of humility, masquerading as godly sorrow while, in reality, it is unbelief in the promises of God. O God, save us from this pride!
The grace of God never tells us that our sin isn’t a big deal. The cross leaves no room for cheap grace or cheap love making little of God’s holiness and sin’s gravity. The cross shows us costly grace that exalts God’s holiness and man’s depravity. The cross also shows us the goodness of God, for “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus cried, “It is finished!” What does that mean? It means the work of salvation is done. You, believer, do not have sins to pay for. That debt was settled 2,000 years ago. All that’s left for us to do is trust Him to forgive us and help us follow Him in new life. J.D. Greear, in his excellent book, “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart,” says that it would be wrong for God to hold the sins of believers against them, since Jesus has already paid for them. We are saved because God is gracious AND just–gracious to not punish us, but just and holy to punish Jesus in our place.
So let us run to Christ and trust His grace. His grace is sufficient. His resurrection proves the Father accepted His sacrifice for ALL of our sin. Trust Him.
God, may we not run away from you when we fail. May our faith be strengthened and made more confident in Christ. May you continue to change us and help us be holy as you are holy. May we share your grace with the world around us.