Continuing this series on Finding Rest, I want to share a bit about what it takes to enter into God’s rest.
For anyone struggling with anxiety and fear, our relationship with God often feels strained and distant. We pray and plead with God for it to go away. We ask him to give us one day where we don’t have to think about fear or possibly having an attack. It can be emotionally and mentally draining. I know because I spent years praying these kinds of prayers.
Early in my walk with God, I couldn’t understand why the fear and panic were so strong. I really desired in my heart to know God better and commit my life to him as best I could. I tried hard to walk in obedience, but I wasn’t perfect. Still, I tried. I worked hard to please God. But, I could not find that elusive rest and peace with God.
Today, fear no longer controls my life, and I’m experiencing this incredible depth of rest in God. What’s different? Primarily, I have changed the way I relate to God and how he relates to me. This is what I learned.
It is Finished
What was needed to satisfy God’s wrath towards all sin has been taken care of. Before Christ, people related to God through the Law, a system of rules and laws. If you obeyed, you were blessed by God. If you disobeyed, you were cursed (Deuteronomy 28). This system of Law was very clear and had obvious consequences. But, there was a problem with this system of right and wrong—it was impossible to keep (Hebrews 8:7-8). So, God setup a sacrificial system to deal with disobedience and sin. People could now relate to him again, but still from a distance.
Yet, God wanted more than a distant relationship based on rules of right and wrong. He wanted intimacy, where we could come to him as we are and call upon his help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). So, he sent his Son to be the one and only sacrifice for all sin. It was the perfect sacrifice that takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). When Jesus died on the Cross, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). All of the obedience required to please God was finished. And, everything changed.
The covenant of Law was now satisfied in Christ. And, a new covenant was established, not based on what we do, but on what we believe (Ephesians 2:8).
Your Sins are Gone
One of the greatest revelations I’ve experienced over the past few years is that are sins are really forgiven. And not just forgiven. Every sin—past, present and future—is gone. God is no longer counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians 5:19). There is no record of your sin. It has been removed from you as far “as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Jesus “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
I think one of the key reasons people experience fear is that they think God is judging them, condemning them, even punishing them for their mistakes. It’s just not true. All judgement, condemnation and punishment have been taken care of on the cross. The wrath of God has been satisfied. Forever. Now, he just wants you to come to him as you are. Through Christ, you can have a perfect, intimate, wonderful relationship with God with no fear of judgement or punishment.
It’s Not About Your Obedience
Under the Law—the old way of relating to God—it was all about your obedience. But under grace—the new way of relating to God—it’s no longer about your obedience. We must come to God based on the obedience of Christ and his perfection, not ours.
We have to stop relying on our own efforts, trying harder and vain attempts to please God, and trust that Christ has already done everything needed to please God. If we can trust in Christ’s obedience and his perfect relationship with the Father, then we can come to God as we are, broken and in need of his help.
Isn’t obedience important? Can we just go out and sin?
The Law of Love far exceeds any Law based on rules and regulations. If I were to go to my wife and says, “Honey, the only reason I don’t commit adultery is because the Bible says it’s wrong.” I just might get slapped. The real reason I don’t commit adultery is because I love my wife with all of my heart. The Law of Love is far more powerful a deterrent to sin than the Law of rules and regulations.
When we live in Christ and trust in his obedience, then God’s love grows deeper and deeper into our hearts. And, his perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
Prayer: Father, help me understand how you fully dealt with sin on the Cross and that you are no longer counting sin against me. Show me how I am free in Christ.