But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
For the past two weeks I’ve been writing about confession as a form of prayer. As I stated previously, the word confess means to agree, to admit, to acknowledge. When we confess, we are owning up to the truth about ourselves and about God. But confession is not just about admitting our sins; it is also about acknowledging our standing before God.
Our standing before God is this: through faith in Jesus Christ we become heirs, with him, of God’s heavenly kingdom. Our sins are forgiven and we are granted eternal life with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, when God sees us, he sees not our sins but the cleansing blood of Jesus upon us. (Hebrews 9:13-14, 22) Death will not have the final say over us because Jesus defeated the power of death by rising from the grave. So nothing can separate us from God’s love, neither sin, death nor evil. (Romans 8:39)
Our standing before God is made possible through no effort of our own. We can’t change it and we can’t take credit for it. We have become daughters and sons of the King of heaven due to his generous, compassionate and forgiving disposition and will.
But there are times when I don’t see myself as God sees me, radiantly robed in his righteousness, washed clean and forgiven by the blood of Jesus. At those moments I see, instead, a legacy of past sins, failures, and lost opportunities. But this is not the lens through which God calls us to view ourselves – or other Christians.
God is not calling us to pretend or to fool ourselves. He knows we sin, but he doesn’t remember our sins. He knows our weaknesses, but he doesn’t see us as weak. God sees us from the point of view of the end of time, when the good work begun in us is brought to completion in the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) So what God sees is the fullness of himself being poured into us, and he’s given us the gift of the Holy Spirit, so we can see the same. (2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 3:19)
When I think about this work that God is doing in me, by the grace of his Son, Jesus, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I realize the way to show my gratitude for this work is to choose to view myself through God’s eyes and not through my own. My own perceptions can only give me a view of what I was instead of what I am becoming and will be. This is not how God wants me to perceive myself. I’ve reached the conclusion that if I persist in seeing myself this way I’m being ungrateful and stubborn by continuing to look at something false instead of what God knows to be true.
So now I regularly ask God to help me see myself as he sees me. I also I find it helpful to make a point of confessing my standing before God right after I confess my sins. This helps to reinforce God’s truth in my mind and banish my misconceptions. Here is a list of verses from the Bible I’ve come up with that bears out every Christian’s status before God:
I confess that I am:
(Category – loved unconditional by Almighty God)
- Wonderfully made by an awesome God. (Psalm 139:14)
- A rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys… and God’s banner over me is love. (Song of Songs 2:1; 4)
- A daughter (son) of the King. (Ephesians 1:5)
- More than a conqueror…because nothing can separate me from God’s love. (Romans 8:39)
(Category – washed clean by the blood of Jesus)
- Saved by grace, through faith, and it is not my own doing, but a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8)
- Redeemed and forgiven…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on me with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8)
- Clothed with garments of salvation and arrayed in a robe of righteousness… (Isaiah 61:10)
- Chosen, royal and holy, belonging to God. (1 Peter 2:9)
(Category – protected by God)
- Safeguarded because…the Lord will never leave me or forsake me. (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 15:5)
- Shielded…because God will not let my foot slip. He watches over me and does not slumber. (Psalm 121:7)
- Shepherded by God…therefore, I shall not want. (Psalm 23)
- Secure because…God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)
This list is not exhaustive, so I’d love to hear from you about passages of Scripture that you turn to for reassurance of your standing before God.
So, if you sometimes struggle, like I do, with seeing yourself through God’s eyes, I suggest you make a habit of admitting the truth about yourself and God.
Next week: Turning to God in prayer about our needs and concerns.
This is good.
As I was reading your description of the way God sees us from the of time, from the end of the process, I was reminded of how an artist looks upon his/her work of art while they are making it. At first, this work of art was a thought, an idea in the mind of the artist, its creator. Then as the artist begins the process of implementing that idea, the work certainly isn’t beautiful. It is sometimes pencil lines on paper, or on a canvas. Then more is added, and it really doesn’t look beautiful – pencil lines and paint? Or maybe a piece of stone or wood with rough chisel marks. Of the partially recorded tracks of some instruments on a recording. Nothing is perfect. All is still in rough form. But the artist has that idea toward which he/she is working, and that’s what the artist sees – that which he/she is working toward.
As the process continues, and the project begins to take shape, it’s still incomplete. some things just aren’t right. But the sees the end product and knows how to fix that which is not perfect yet. More work. It takes time. Sometimes, especially in pottery work, the work has to sit on the shelf. Sometime in recording, the piece has to sit a while for the artist to see how to proceed to make the sound he/she wants, how to layer sounds, to mix them. Then more work. It’s a lengthy process.
Recently, a performance partner and myself finished a CD project. We, of course aren’t God, and do not have His knowledge or power by any means, but we did have a foresight of what we wanted the CD to sound like. We knew the steps in general we had to take to accomplish this. We began. We even changed our approach to recording the stories and music after we recorded the first piece. We knew inside what our goal was, but we had to let that emerge. Now God’s vision of us is fully complete and expressible, but being limited humans, ours wasn’t – however, we knew it would become expressible, and that took some time.
In God’s case of working with us, it is us who needs the time. If He changed us all at once, we could not take it. Our friends and family could not take it. The only time that will happen is at the end when all things are renewed, as I understand it. But now, we need time to let God change us, to let ourselves grasp what we can of what He is doing in us, and let ourselves let the work He does in us take hold and become fruitful. It takes time, years, decades, our entire lives. But all that time, He doesn’t see us as a partially finished creature. He knows we are, just as we know our works of art are while in process, but that’s not His overriding vision of us. He sees us as He knows we will be when He’s done with us.
May He help each of us see ourselves, even though through a glass darkly, as He sees us – whole, sanctified, and a finished work of art.
Rick, I love your analogy of the artistic process, from the point of view of the artist and the piece of art, comparing it to God’s work of sanctification in us. The same is true for the writer and the finished article, story or book. I agree, also, that if God changed us all at once we couldn’t bear it. Each layer or texture of Jesus’ true nature, applied to/in us through the Holy Spirit, must “take” before the next can be applied. Thank you so much for your comments. Readers: check out Rick’s new CD on his website http://www.cutedogmusic.com/
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