The times I’m the most frustrated and/or miserable in my life, are the times I lack belief that God will fulfill His promises. It is also ultimately a lack of trust in and assurance that God will sustain me, and I assume that by my own strength, I must sustain myself in every way. At these times, in its most basic form, it is unbelief in God Himself, and I operate in my life as a practicing atheist. This is where a good, healthy dose of grace comes in. Because of my proneness to wander into unbelief in areas of my life, I find that the Gospel of grace is the best remedy. Why? Because the fact that I was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone leaves me absolutely no room to boast or to trust in myself to sustain myself in any form or fashion, including the sustainment of my faith. It is God who gives faith and sustains it. The fact that I turned to God to begin with shows that my belief in Him as well as my turning away from sin was all a gift of God. I cannot boast in these things in any form or fashion. I did not choose to turn to God ultimately, but God opened my eyes while I was dead, and gave me life that I then could not help but turn to Him because He is so irresistable. God had great mercy to turn me from my wickedness and didn’t have to. He could have let me wander further into sin and receive the just fruits of that corruption, His eternal wrath. And how horrible it is! And yet He came to me when I was not searching for Him in mighty power through the Gospel of grace, Jesus Christ, and opened my eyes to see Him.
However, it is no different now than when the Lord opened my eyes to see Him. You see, God’s grace giving rise to our faith in Christ unto salvation isn’t where God’s grace stops, but it is the very thing we all so desperately need to change us and make us more like Christ and put away sin. And God’s grace comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I still possess the tendency to stray into sin and unbelief. When I repeat the Gospel to myself, the first thing I see is that in the same way I was helpless, dead, rebellious toward God prior to the Lord turning me around, so also even now, I am helpless to change myself to become more like Christ. I am indeed a new creature, but even though I am regenerated and desire to change, I cannot change myself. The agent that changes me must come from outside myself and it is God’s Spirit alone who can do this through the Gospel. The Gospel saves us as well as rid us of sin. The grace of God, appropriated through the cross, is the only thing that can turn my heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh that is responsive to God. This is why I must preach Christ crucified to my dead heart everyday! I have nothing to offer Him, nothing I can do that is of any worth. And how freeing this is because Christ has done what I could never do on my own! I cannot merit any more favor with God than Christ has already merited for me by His stripes and wounds on the cross. The times I’m most miserable are the times I forget this wonderful truth, and lack a total falling back on God to sustain even my faith that I may turn from my unbelief. We are helpless before Him of our own strength, and yet when returning to the cross, He gives us strength and power to perform that which we cannot do on our own. Christ Himself said, “You can do nothing apart from Me.” Man is that true, and I see it is true because of these experiential times I’m miserable and lack faith in Christ and His promises to me. Lord, by your mercy and grace, through Jesus Christ, help my unbelieving, dead heart that I may glorify You and marvel at the cross! Lord, help my unbelief!
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