ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED Lesson Number 9 WE LOVE GOD
You cannot love God because you HAVE to! You have probably tried to do so, and have failed as miserably as the rest of us attempting such a procedure in mere human energy. The first and great commandment is "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37). Even this commandment was "weak through the flesh" (Rom. 8:3). Mind you, it had no weakness of itself, but was weak because of man's fallen nature. God says of humanity as He said of Israel, "Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always . . . " (Deut 5:29). Like it or not, without God's grace, our efforts to keep this preeminent commandment are totally futile. But let the heart perceive the love God has for the individual in Christ, and profound adoration and devotion are awakened within the slumbering heart. It is true, and doubt it not; "We love Him BECAUSE He first loved us!" He loved us "FIRST" because He wanted to. It was His NATURE to do so. In fact, He would not have been God if He did not. Your acceptance in Christ is an expression of God's Deity! It is an demonstration of His Divinity! God not only had the power to save you, He had the desire to do so! Glorious truth!
GOD IS NOT ASHAMED OF YOU!
You may be able to think of a thousand reasons why God should be ashamed of you. They are all probably areas of legitimate concern. Perhaps you have spoken hastily and harshly. You may have failed to do things you know you should have done. You may have done something that contradicted what you know to be righteous. We all are very much alike in this respect. We must admit that we still need a Savior. We still require an Intercessor. We have not outgrown our need for the grace of God. There is no plateau of spiritual life in this world where we dispense with the need for forgiveness, grace, or the "One Mediator between God and man." But does all of this mean you have lost favor with God? Does it mean that you are no longer accepted by Him? There is no need for this to be the case! You must not allow your sin to keep you from God. To put it another way, you must appropriate a purged conscience (Heb 9:14), or your defiled conscience will drive you from the presence of the Lord. Be sensitive to God's acceptance in Christ. He will receive you and forgive you if you will come to Him. He has committed Himself on this, and He cannot lie! "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Do not miss the truth of this! God is "faithful AND JUST" to forgive us, that is, those who are in Christ! In other words, He would be unjust if He did not forgive believers that acknowledge their transgression. Remember, He is motivated by His nature, not by your need! Forgiveness is not a mere act of divine sympathy: it is the expression of a satisfied God (Isa. 53:11)! The truth of God's forwardness to accept us is declared in the book of Hebrews. There the Spirit hearkens back to saints in ages past (Chapter 11). These believers did not have what you have. They lived before the effective Sacrifice (Heb 10:12), before the full remission of sin (Acts 13:39), before the gift of the Holy Spirit (Gal 4:6), before the world had been reconciled unto God (2 Cor 5:18-20). But, they believed these things were coming. They "saw the promises afar off, and embraced them." Hear what is said of them. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country" (Heb 11:13-14).
NOT SATISFIED HERE
These patriarchs were not satisfied with an inheritance in this world. They longed for more divine intimacy. They were dissatisfied with the transitory, and yearned for the eternal. For this reason, God was not ashamed of them! He was the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Gen. 26:24; 28:13; 31:42; Ex. 3:6, 15, 16; 4:5). God would never associate His holy name with those in whom He found no delight. Therefore it is written, "But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city" (Heb 11:16). And what of you? In Christ you are closer to God that Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. You have received something they never received when they were in the world. In fact, you have experienced that for which they longed. Do you not have a longing for heaven? A yearning for deliverance from the curse? Are not your greatest disappointments related to this world, this time, and its deficiencies? Are you displeased with God? Christ? salvation? the Holy Spirit? heaven? Are not these the things for which you long? Are not your best moments the times when you are aware of the blessing of the Lord? And are not your worst moments the times when you are not aware of them? Doubt it not! God is not ashamed to be called your God. He is not! In confirmation of this, Jesus makes a promise to you, and He will not go back on it. "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him My new name" (Rev. 3:12). What does all of this mean? Simply, that you will fit in! You will be here you, as a new creation, belong! There is no way this could be realized if God were ashamed to be identified with you! Now, throw yourself into the work of faith and labor of love! Fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life! Draw nigh unto God and resist the devil! You have every reason to do this, and no acceptable reason for not doing so!
-- TOMORROW: A NEW SERIES ON JUSTIFICATION --