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Are You Avoiding the Inevitable?
By David A. DePra
God wants to expose us for what we are Ė in the light of who Jesus Christ is. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, and without it, there is no chance for spiritual growth or freedom. This exposure is really the key to so much. But have we realized that it is INEVITABLE? That we are going to be exposed for what we are Ė if not here Ė then certainly when we stand before the Lord?
The purpose of God is that we live and move with Him forever. That requires openness and honesty. It requires that all of us be open and exposed and naked to God. But how do we expect to do that THEN, in the eternal ages, if we are not beginning to do it NOW? We cannot. And we wonít. Again Ė we ARE going to be exposed before God. It is inevitable. So why avoid it NOW? We will not be able to escape it THEN.
Exposed to God
If there is one thing that God is trying to do in the lives of people, it is to show them that there is NOTHING about themselves that can be presented to Him as merit. Nothing. But if you examine your motives and thinking as you walk with God, you will probably discover that, even without forethought, you are operating to a great degree on the basis of what you think are your merits before God.
Merits take many shapes and sizes, and are used for many purposes. Some of the merits we think we have are faith, works, and perhaps nothing more than a good attitude. Now, donít misunderstand. Those things are GOOD things, and commanded in the Bible. That is not in question. The question is whether any of those things are MERITS. They are not. In the end, if we are perfect in any of those things, we have done only our duty.
The purpose for which we present merits to God is usually to try to obligate Him to us. Sort of like we are trading our merits for His blessings or favor. We say to God, "See God, I believed You, or I obeyed You, and therefore, You are obligated to do such and such." And then the next thing we do is whip out a scripture and wave it under Godís nose and say, "You promised that if I did such and such, You would do such and such. So God, you MUST do such and such."
This is, of course, subtle, because the fact is, God DOES make promises in His Word, and some of those promises are based on what we do, or donít do. So the problem here isnít whether God promises. The problem is our motivation. It would seem to me that the above attitude is mine, that I am obeying and believing God for what I can get out of Him. We usually donít realize that, but often that is our motivation. And that certainly isnít REAL FAITH, and about the last thing it is is LOVE.
The great irony is that all the while we are trying to avoid being exposed Ė trying to avoid the inevitable Ė God is working towards exactly that end. The very thing we fear and thus avoid, is the key to our freedom. The way to freedom is to be exposed, confess it, and receive all that Jesus has for us. But as long as we avoid this, and try to hide from God, what Jesus has for us will not find a release in us.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Until we declare absolute and unconditional spiritual and moral bankruptcy, we will never see our need, let alone be empty enough to receive His riches. We canít and we wonít.
But you see, we think that to be exposed and reduced is a bad, depressing thing. We think this only because we still have some comfort, and still feel at home, in our old life. We have no idea of the glory, joy, peace, and freedom we would have if only we would come to God with nothing in our hands but the complete wreck that we are.
Christians play all kinds of tricks on themselves. For instance, if we feel good about ourselves, we will paste that on God, and assume He feels the same. If we feel like failures, we will paste that on God, and assume He feels the same. In short, we are unwittingly basing our faith on our works or spiritual condition. But worse, we are basing our faith on how WE feel about ourselves! Not on Jesus Christ. Indeed, Christ isnít even in the picture. Our faith isnít in Him, it is in how WE feel about US!
Do you see that? This is self-deception. Godís love for us is not dependent upon how we feel about ourselves. This pattern of thinking is ALL within US Ė the whole thing is going on in our heads. It has nothing to do with how God feels about us whatsoever. And the Devil loves this stuff. He can have a field day with it.
Christians spend more time putting their faith in their ability to believe God, and putting their faith in what they think about themselves, and putting their faith in their merits, than we can possibly imagine. It is only when God brings us to the end of all of this that we finally put our faith in Christ.
How does God bring us to the end? Well, if your faith is in yourself, then God will often show you to be a very untrustworthy person in which to put your faith. In other words, God will see to it that you FAIL. This really isnít God causing anything Ė it is Him showing you the Truth. God must bring you down. It is His mercy. He wants us to get free from these deceptions.
It is human nature before God to avoid the inevitable. The fact is, we are nothing. And God wants to show us this Ė so that He can set us free. But this is about the last thing we want to admit. We religiously seek to avoid the very pathway to freedom.
The stark reality is, being exposed for what we are before God IS inevitable. It is going to happen, if not here, then when we stand before Him. Why not let God do a work now?
Think about it. What if, at this moment, you were stripped of every single spiritual credential you have? What if every single good thing about yourself was exposed as fake? What if even what you considered to be your purest motive was exposed as self-serving? What if even your faith was shown to be, not so much in God, but a ploy to get from Him what you want? How confident and secure would you feel?
Well, Iíve got news. What I have just described pretty much sums up each one of us. Itís not a revelation many of us have ever seen about ourselves, and certainly not one many of us could take. But it is man in his fallen condition. There simply is no good in any of us. And yet God loves us.
God has sought to strip us from the beginning. He stripped Adam of his man-made covering. He gave His law to expose us all as needy sinners. And the purpose of the Holy Spirit today is to show us as being completely bankrupt of anything good. But because we havenít been taught, we continue to try to convince God we arenít bankrupt, so that we might merit his blessings. Some of us never see that we are trying to avoid confessing the very condition that will open the windows of heaven for us.
To us, being exposed as bankrupt is negative. It is depressing. It is not good for the self-esteem. But doesnít this tell us that what is being exposed isnít all that good? Sure. I mean, if you really WERE a person worthy of God, then when God exposed you, it would be great, wouldnít it? But it isnít great. The moment we open to God, we see that we are bad.
Now, if that were ALL God did, then it would be rather depressing. But God never exposes us to leave us there, or as a thing in and of itself. No. When He reveals to us who we really are, it only comes because of the light of Jesus Christ. In short, the only way to really see the Truth about yourself is to see the Truth about Jesus. After all, isnít He THE Truth? Sure. Then that makes everything redemptive. Then we are able to gladly surrender what we are into His hands.
We must see Christ. Even things like self-imposed humility or asceticism is fruitless in trying to fix what ails you. You may be able to see a bit about your own depravity, and try to eradicate it with some sort of disciple. But really, you are still you. That which is born of flesh IS flesh, and flesh is dead. There is nowhere to turn with yourself unless you see Jesus. Besides, most self-imposed humility is nothing more than pride taking the path of fake humility to try to please God. Pride in our humility? What strange creatures we are!
If we come into the light of Jesus Christ, we will finally see that the merits we were trying to present to God were the chains that bound us. Once we see Christ, we will realize that there are no merits necessary. In fact, the entire goal of God was to get us to confess we have NONE! The moment we do, the chains fall off.
To listen to some of these self-esteem preachers, you would swear that most of us arenít sinners at all, but that we just lack self-love. They consider it to be a negative message to say that we are sinners void of any good. Well, again, if you love yourself just like you are, and are comfortable in prison, to the extent that you call it home, then I suppose that any message which calls your prison a bad thing will seem negative to you. But this is why the gospel, at the forefront, must convict us as sinners and show us our need. Otherwise, we will not think of it as the power of God unto salvation, but as a negative message which is trying to force religion down our throats Ė and trying, "to knock," our prison.
The greatest freedom possible BEGINS once I see that I have been calling a terrible prison, "home." Freedom begins when I realize how deceived I have been. Isnít this realization what LIGHT brings? Sure. Light shows the Truth about things. And then, once I see the Truth, then the choice is whether I will, in fact, CONFESS that I have, yes, been in prison, but more importantly, confess that I have felt at home in prison. It is one thing to be bound in sin. It is another to be comfortable in it.
Thus, we see that God wants to bring us to the point where we see what we are, and where we are Ė in the light of Christ. He wants to expose us as dead sinners, without any capacity for good. But this will not be a negative message if we WANT to be free, will it? It will truly be the GOOD NEWS, in that case.
The gospel of John says that, "light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light." Why? Because, "their deeds were evil," and they would NOT have themselves exposed by that light. John says that for anyone who makes this choice eternally, that -- THIS IS CONDEMNATION. (see John 3:19) Thus, if you want to be condemned, that is how to do it: See the light about yourself, and refuse to come to terms with it before God. Shrink back into the darkness. God has nothing more to offer you, for that SAME light is always there, and if you perpetually remain in prison and darkness, your condition is now your own fault, for you refused the only way out into freedom. Everything pivots on this ONE dealing with God.
Do we realize that the complete exposure by the LIGHT that Iíve just described is actually going to happen? It is inevitable. It might happen to us to an extent during this lifetime. But it is going to happen fully when we stand before Christ:
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (1 Cor. 4:5)
When we stand before Christ, all of the masks are going to come off. All of the games will be over. All of the religious jargon, and the politics, and the faÁades, are going to come down. It is not going to matter what we did for God, or what church we served. It will be just US Ė the real us Ė and God. There will be no where to hide and no where to run. There will be no court of appeal, and no escape.
The only hope here is if our masks are already off. And if the religious faÁade we have erected is already brought down. That IS, after all, what God is trying to accomplish. God will, in the end, ask us: What have you done with My Son? Not just with regards to general salvation. But what have we done Ė what have we BECOME Ė because of Christ in us? He wonít necessarily wait for us to answer. The LIGHT will reveal the answer.
Right now God is trying to show us that we are nothing. Thatís because itís the Truth. But that is not a bad thing, but a good thing. Why? Because once we see that, we can turn to Christ, who is everything, and be filled with HIM. Seeing the Truth, and confessing it, in the light of Godís love, redemption, and grace, is the key to freedom.
But how long will we continue to avoid the Truth about ourselves? Well, as long as we do, we will never be free from the lie!
The NORMAL condition for man, according to the Bible, is to be NAKED and UNASHAMED. "Naked," means to be dependent and with no assets from yourself. But, "unashamed," means that because I am dependent upon God, I am completed by Him, and am a WHOLE person, barely conscious that I am naked. That is freedom. And it is the place back to which God wants to bring us in Jesus Christ.
This is the Truth and it is inevitable that I am going to have to come to terms with it. God exhorts us to do it NOW, so that when we face Him THEN, there will not be many surprises.
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