Author’s note: This is the third article in the series, How to be a Biblically “woke” Christian
I don’t know about you, but I have a sin problem. Every day I need to confess to the Lord because of what I have done and what I have left undone. I have truly not loved the Lord with my whole heart, nor my neighbor as myself.
Oftentimes I buy into the lie that my standing with God is based on my performance (works) rather than the reality that I have been adopted into the family of God through Jesus Christ and that I have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing.” Furthermore, Christ’s perfect righteousness has been imputed to me, making me clean before God and able to boldly approach Him in prayer. However…
In spite of all the truths I may know, I believe the lie that my sin and apathy render me unlovable and far from the Father. Like the Prodigal Son, I wallow in the muck of my despair and convince myself of my unworthiness. Have you ever felt like this? Maybe that’s where you’re at right now. Don’t despair. You need to get Biblically “woke” and find a “safe space” as soon as you can.
In the book of 1 Samuel, the people of Israel finally reached a point where they acknowledged they had sinned against God and asked the prophet Samuel to pray that the Lord would not kill them. Samuel’s response in chapter 12 is such an encouragement for anyone struggling with sin and fear of God’s rejection. He described the safe space Israel needed to get to, and it doesn’t look much different than the one we can run to post-cross.
The major difference between the safe spaces of modern America and Biblical safe spaces is that hearing hard things that will trigger negative emotions is one of the first things that must happen. Samuel begins with, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.” His assurance to the people, which is only possible because “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” is coupled with unmitigated confirmation of their sinfulness. There’s no attempt to call their sin anything other than what it is. The same should be true for us. We should not try to quibble, deflect, deny, defend or attempt to lessen the ugliness and reality of our sin. We are terrible sinners (or rather, great sinners) who have offended a holy God, but that place of contrition and sorrow is not where we have to remain.
The next thing Samuel does is tell the people to not “turn aside from following the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” Essentially, he’s telling them not to let their sin prevent them from repenting and following the Lord. Paul the Apostle says something very similar in 2 Corinthians 7:10, which says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” Furthermore, John the Apostle says in 1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But, if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Don’t despair. Get Biblically woke and rejoice that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who was punished in our place so we could be reconciled to God. Rejoice that we, undeserving, God-hating rebels, were brought near to God, not because of anything we have done or would do, but because of God’s great love for us. As Samuel reminded the Israelites, God has redeemed his people for their good and, ultimately, for his glory. “For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”