Friday, July 18, 2014

Jesus Saves The Unrighteous

What do you say to the one who is downcast because of her failures?  What do you say to the one who just can't see forgiveness being a gift for her?  

There are many who live under a constant weight of guilt and memories of failure.  They see and feel condemnation at every turn, even when forgiveness is there for the taking.  They withdraw into a world of self pity and spin their wheels in the muck of their past unable to hear, see or experience mercy...because deep down they don't believe they are worthy of mercy.  But what they don't understand is that NO ONE is worthy.  Not in the church nor out of the church!  

There was another who was downcast.  He remembered his sin continually.  But he knew there was only ONE remedy.  

Lamentations 3:19-23 "Remember my affliction and my wanderings,the bitterness and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind,and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning;great is your faithfulness."
Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, those who are unworthy.  He came to save those who are broken and contrite in spirit.  

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Psalm 34:18 "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."

To those who are downcast within their souls, and broken hearted because of their transgressions, unable to live down the shame they feel because of the life they've lived, give them the hope of the Savior.  That's why He came.  

He's not waiting to heap more shame upon them. Nor are we who love Him.  He's waiting to save them from their guilt and shame and redeem them from their bondage!  And the body of Christ is waiting to rejoice with them in their salvation.  

I know many have been hurt by bad church experiences.  I know it is difficult to overcome that.  Faith in Jesus is, for many people, tarnished by negative, graceless experiences they had at one time or another in church or with a Christian.  To be honest, I've had some pretty discouraging times in my life due to "church" people...and surprisingly pastors...yes, plural.  It is difficult to separate the body of Christ from such truly hurtful, hypocritical experiences and memories.  I get that.  I'm one who has been tempted to just walk away.  But I've known for some time now that the same mercy that saves a wretch like me also saves everyone else, including people in the church who sin.  And as much as I continue to fail, so will they continue to fail, because we all fail.  And we all need to afford the same grace to each other as we would like to receive.  That's what God's word says.  

Colossians 3:13 "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."

This can be difficult, but it is a must.  
Matthew 6:15 "but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses"  

Say to the one who is broken hearted, Jesus will save.  

Remind yourself when you are tempted to feel condemnation or be condemning yourself, Jesus didn't come to save the righteous, but the unrighteousness.  That means that the body of Christ is made up of a bunch of unrighteous people who are merely and only saved by grace!  And if you are avoiding church because you don't feel worthy or because you've concluded that the church is filled with a bunch of unrighteous hypocritical sinners, know that Jesus came to forgive the unworthy and sinful.  

Do not call unholy what God has made holy.  The body of Christ has been redeemed, but we are still learning to be holy and to be forgiving. 
Hebrews 10:14 "because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."

If someone in the church has failed you, offer the same forgiveness to him or her that you would like to receive from God.  None of us deserve it, but Jesus offers it freely to all.

And if you know someone stuck in their condemnation, be a constant beacon pointing them back to finding faith in Jesus, the only one who can save.  A broken and contrite heart He will not despise.  Remind them that in Christ we are ALL learning to be holy and set apart from the rest of the world.

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