Do we over-emphasize our unworthiness?
There is a well-intentioned way to talk about the gospel that may contribute to someone’s incessant unease about whether or not they’re really in Christ. Maybe you’re wondering about that yourself. See, we have often heard about our unworthiness before God… how we don’t deserve His love. That is very true in the sense in which it is usually meant; namely, that you and I don’t bring any righteousness to God on our own. It’s all from Jesus. Left to ourselves, we are unlovable.
True believers become increasingly aware of that. We become increasingly sensitive to our sin and grieving the Holy Spirit. That fear is incredibly important, in its proper place. What people like me have a tendency to do, though, is to stop there, in the midst of that fear. Believers, we need a fresh view of what Jesus did for us, and who we are in Him.
In his book, ‘Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart: How to Know For Sure You Are Saved’, J.D. Greear makes an insightful observation:
“The basis of God’s forgiveness of [believers] is not mercy, it is justice. Jesus paid the full penalty for our sin; not an ounce of judgment remains. It would be unjust for God to hold the sins of Christians against them any longer, for He would be requiring two penalties for the same sin!”
Did that first sentence make you uncomfortable? Perhaps that’s because you don’t understand (or at least have a tendency to forget) that when Jesus became your propitiation, He gave you all of His righteousness and good standing with God, and did away entirely with your sin. His worthiness now belongs to you.
While it will always remain true that there is no good intrinsically in you and I, it will always remain equally true that God would not be just if He did not love us with the same love with which He loves His own Son, because of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross.
That’s why a fear that God will eventually get fed up with us in our sin and withdraw His mercy is unfounded. That fear arises from only looking inside of us. Only when we look to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus can we truly rest in His love for us. We have been shown mercy, yes. And now, because of Jesus, all we get is God’s justice. Tender, loving justice.