Monday, July 5, 2010

"How Near?" - Addendum

Although the point was addressed in our consideration that the person and work of Lord Jesus Christ is our access to God, I think it would be wise before concluding to return to the issue of how sin affects our approach.

If we honestly and humbly determine to come to God through the person and work of the Lord Jesus, we can always be sure of being received. As we have considered, we approach the throne of grace in the best of times only as we come by our great Intercessor, and in the worst of times by the same. Access is eternally the gift of God's grace in Christ, of whom the Apostle Paul declared, "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).

If there is Biblically-defined sin in our lives, and if we have ignored or refused the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we can expect our Heavenly Father to bring the matter to our attention as we commune with Him. In this regard, a good prayer to often offer is the Psalmist's "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults," and "Search me and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, see if there be any wicked way in me" (Psalm 19:12; 139:23-24). This is especially true concerning our relationships with people.

"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matthew 5:23-24).

If we have wronged another person, our Heavenly Father commands that we seek restoration and make restitution, if possible. In our relationships with people, He hates loose ends and untied strings, as it were. Sin against people is always the fruit of unbelief and disobedience concerning God, and returning to Him therefore always involves the attempt to reconcile with people. The process begins with our Lord because He is the one who sends us from the altar to our brother's doorstep. He is also the one who empowers such humility and contrition by the light of His Word and the enabling of His Spirit. We therefore come to Him first, and are received through Christ in order to bringing cleansing to our relationship with God, and if the offended brother responds, to our relationship with him.

There may be times when no offensive acts or words have been directed toward our brother, but the Holy Spirit convicts us that our thoughts and attitudes have not reflected the character of the Lord Jesus. Our brother therefore has nothing against us in any conscious way, and we may not need to approach him directly. Between ourselves and God, however, there is an issue. Trusting Him for forgiveness and cleansing as we honestly acknowledge our sin restores us to unclouded communion with our Heavenly Father, making the benefits of our free access through Christ far more enjoyed and sanctifying.

Born again believers need never fear that we cannot approach God. Nor should we fear what will happen when we come to Him through the person and merits of the Lord Jesus. We will be received in love and the gift of being "accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6). If correction is necessary, including humble contrition toward a brother we have offended, our bests interests are always in the heart of the God who is eternally "for us" (Romans 8:31). "He delighteth in mercy," that is, our Heavenly Father loves to forgive, cleanse, and restore fellowship between us and Himself, and us with others. Such glory began when we believed and received the freest gift ever given, the gift of living relationship with God in Christ. It continues as we grow in availing ourselves of such freely given favor, and as it becomes more and more actualized and expressed in our relationship with both God and people.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
(Matthew 22:37-39)

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