I wonder about God sometimes. What is He REALLY like? I’ve read the Bible regularly for decades, cover to cover several times, studied great thinkers and theologians. Still I wonder, what is God REALLY like? Especially when it comes to grace. I have stuff that I struggle with, things I shouldn’t do but I keep doing, other things I’m supposed to do but avoid and ignore. I am disobedient to my core sometimes. I want to know, what is God’s grace really like? I want Him to be as forgiving as a I hope. I want Him to be more generous than I can dream of. I want Him to be better than I am. But is He? Or am I fabricating a God who will let me off too easy so I don’t have to change?
Hebrews 10:18 comes across my reading today. “And when these (all of man’s sins) have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”
I cried as I read this today. Because of Christ’s death for me, I can not bring a sacrifice that will help the process. I am forgiven. Period. No more to be said, no more to be done, nothing else to be offered as a peace-offering. God’s grace is all I hope it is. His forgiveness is deeper than I can swim. I’m free.
I keep reading and hit verse 26. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth. no sacrifice for sin is left…” Oh, that is what I feared. The grace is limited, fake, not legit. The catch. My forgiveness is based on my obedience. He’s gracious, so long as I do what I’m told. If a deal seems to good to be true, then ….
No. This is not the God we know, who has shown Himself to us. He is not petty, His love is not conditional.
If I want forgiveness, it is offered. In wanting forgiveness, the part of my heart that will go hand in hand with that is a desire to be more like my forgiver. I want to grow. I want to beat my weaknesses. I want the stiff, unyielding parts of my heart to break to His will. They haven’t yet. But I want it. I am working towards it. I fail in many areas more than I succeed in this call to change. But I keep trying. I keep wanting. I keep desiring.
It’s when we want to be let go of consequences that we are in trouble. You see, if our “forgiveness” is based on not wanting to get caught, then that isn’t repentance. That is just fear of consequences. We are not loving the Forgiver. We are trying to play Him to keep control of our lives, to hold Him at a distance. We don’t want forgiveness, we just want permission. That will never bring change in our lives. We know the god we want to be like, and that god is us.
But when our heart cries out to be like Jesus, to be made in the image of Him, to look, sound, act, and love like Him, THEN we seek forgiveness because we love Him. We keep walking forward, knowing that the forgiveness today will produce holiness tomorrow. We do what the writer of Hebrews repeatedly calls “perseverance”.
God is good. God is just. God is loving, grace-filled, and generous. Those who want forgiveness find it, and those who really want to be like Him are changed.
We can count on it.