For some, there is an internal thought mechanism that bargains with God when they ask for forgiveness. “If you forgive me, I will never do it again.” “I will make it up to You!” “Please give me another chance.” It is in this thought process that one finds sabotage waiting to happen. If this is you, how do you intend not to do it again? Just how are going to make up for it? If you failed the first time, how do you propose not to fail a second or third time? None of us is greater than Jesus; therefore, it would be an insult to Him to bargain. The basis of our forgiveness is the Blood of Jesus. We all want to do better, but in the realm of God, we cannot “do better.”
Repentance is not making up for something the Blood of Jesus already paid for. Repentance is a change of heart and thought process. When our hearts are fully converted and we think in the manner of the Lord, our behavior modifies. Frankly, there is no making up for anything; that would be dead works. Jesus simply says, “Sin no more.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (KJV). When we were made new creatures in Christ Jesus, we were not given a “do-over;” we were given a new beginning void of a sinful past. We have a fresh beginning. The closest we can get to making up for anything is simply doing things God’s way.
Stop trying to imagine what the right way is, and find out from Him what it truly is. Holiness and righteousness are spiritual principles, which means we need the Holy Spirit to teach us what they mean (see 1Coirnthians 2:9-16). We cannot try to live holy and righteously by our standards and hope we are doing things right. We must yield ourselves completely to the Lord and let Him lead the way.
We need to desire the sincere milk of the Word in order to grow, and we need it for instruction in the ways of righteousness (see 1Peter 2:2; 2Timothey 3:14-17). As we spend time in the Bible, the Father is able to reveal to us the way He thinks through the Holy Spirit. At the same time, our thought process begins to conform to His. Let it be clear, in order for that to happen we all must spend time in it, and desire the Truth. A person is not being spiritual by ignoring the discipline of study and simply hoping the Holy Spirit will instruct him without the Word. There is a vast difference between those who have no access to one by virtue of circumstances and those with Bibles collecting dust on the coffee table. This is not to be confused with reading for the sake of reading, which becomes dead works. Indeed, spending time with the Father in His Word leads to true spirituality. Do not read the Bible to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s.” You cannot earn “brownie points” in the Kingdom. Read to know Him and His ways.
If you are in need of God’s forgiveness, humbly receive it through faith. He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness, and complete the work He began in you (see 1John 1:9; Philippians 1:6). He gets all the glory. So, if the Blood of Jesus eradicated our sins, what is there to make up for? The sin is no longer a consideration in God’s eyes. If you truly repented, move on, He made you worthy. If you are trying to hide behind grace and are planning to sin again, that is an entirely different thing. When you finally come to your senses, you still will not be able to make up for it.
One final thought: should the time come that someone asks us for forgiveness, we need to be as our Father in heaven. No one can earn our forgiveness; we extend it freely. Neither do they have anything to make up for once we do because we have released them, which in turn give them the freedom to interact with us. Freely we have received, freely we should give.
The more we are aware of the length God had gone to make us righteous, the less we will try to establish our own righteousness. Yielding ourselves to His righteousness would eliminate our hypocrisies. Instead of pretending to be something we are not, we can actually be who the Father called us to be through Christ Jesus. Colossians 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (KJV). Since our lives are hid with Christ Jesus, we do not have to establish our own righteousness (see Colossians 3:3); He established it for us. Obedience is belief with the intent to conform to the desires of God out of love. If we believe Him and walk in love, then we are walking in righteousness. That is why it is written, “Faith works by love” (Galatians 5:6), and “Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13, KJV). By surrendering to Jesus, our lives are hidden with Him.
Philemon 1:8-11 Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient, Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me (KJV). Like Onesimus, before Jesus, we were all unprofitable to God; but through Him He made us profitable. He made us worthy, which means we can walk worthily of our calling by His grace. He graced us with the ability to be who He desires us to be. Pride says, “I am unworthy,” when the Father declared us worthy through His Son. Before putting our faith in Jesus, we were unworthy. That is who we were, but is not who we are now. Since our Lord Jesus is worthy, we are worthy because our lives are hidden with Him. When the Father looks at us, He is looking at Jesus, and not who we once were.
Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we are sanctified and are being sanctified. It is not as if we remain sinners and hide behind a Jesus mask. Rather, the Blood and the Holy Spirit sanctified us. His crucifixion is our crucifixion, which means our old man died. Dead men do not even desire to sin, let alone have the ability to sin. Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (KJV). Our new nature is righteous. The new man is hidden in us, and we are hidden with Christ. Hence, we are in Him and He is in us.
When we agree with God, we walk worthily and victoriously. Some have the concept that we use faith to avoid sin. However, we walk by faith in order to live righteously as a holy people of God. When walking righteously, sin is no longer a consideration. When we are conscious of righteousness, we are not conscious of sin. When you believe you are righteous through Jesus Christ as God declared, your behavior will follow suit. As a man thinks, so is he. Once you believe the Truth, you will no longer feel the need to prove to yourself or anyone else that you are a “good person.” As long as a person dwells on his past failings, it will be very difficult to walk in the present victory. Jesus did it all!
2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (KJV).
If we live by our own standard and become dependant upon it, we will fail to depend upon grace, and lose sight of its purpose. As we consider The Standard, we will discover that it is impossible for us to live at that level by our own strength and abilities. Hence, the purpose of grace: the favor and ability to be who God destined us to be and to do what He asks of us. Consider this: living by our own standards is an act of the flesh, especially if we are trying to be that standard. This is also known as self-righteousness. Therefore, it does not honor God; it glorifies the flesh, and nullifies the Word of God (see Mark 7:9). With self-righteousness comes the tendency to compare others to ourselves, which is not a wise thing to do. This in turn leads to self-justification and ultimately self-deception. Face it; there is something about feeling “holier than thou.” If we are the ones setting the standard, then Jesus is not our Lord. He must increase and we must decrease!
Having mentors is a good thing; however, if we elevate them to a level they do not belong, they will become the standard by which we live, instead of the Lord. We are to be conformed to the image of Jesus; not mentors. While those who teach others should be examples of what it means to follow Jesus, the goal is to follow Jesus and be His disciple. It is easy to mimic mentors to the point of losing one’s own identity in Christ Jesus and miss having one’s own experiences with the Father. The danger lies in being so dependent on them that a person does not trust that the Holy Spirit himself can lead him. This is something that mentors must guard against by always pointing to Jesus.
We are to be disciples of Jesus Christ; therefore, the object of the game is to get disciples dependent on the Lord. He must be The Standard for their lives, so they can reach their full potential by His grace.
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (KJV). When considering the Apostle Paul’s past, the phrase, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” becomes very meaningful. Grace has such power behind it, and it has to be something we embrace if we are to move forward in our walk with God. Grace eliminates taking pride in our past, whether we consider it “glorious” or “depraved,” as some take pride in either one. Yes, some even gloat in how bad they once were. It is important to understand that it was and ever will be God’s grace that gives us the victory over our past, and that includes our future past moments. One immediate lesson we can learn from Paul in our opening passage of Scripture is that he recognized what he became was by the Grace of God. It was clear to him that he was saved, fashioned, and his labor of love was by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Remember, grace is favor and ability to do the things of God, that we could never do on our own. The sooner you accept the favor of God, which includes forgiveness, the sooner you will realize the Lord’s victory in your life.
Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (KJV). In order to press toward the mark, we have to leave our past behind. Regardless of our history, we cannot afford to have a living history of our own, as it were. While history does serve a purpose for us, we must strike a balance between having a memorial which helps one stay encouraged, and completely disregarding it as to not live in the past. Secondly, we must never let our past define us as who we are today, negative or positive. Paul had a rich history, which included one he could take pride in, and one he could have let himself suffer intense guilt. Both of which could have held him back from becoming who the Father called him to be. Therefore, lets address both of these.
When dealing with our negative history, we cannot afford to challenge the Word of God with our past failings. If we do, we will dispute the validity of His Word and enter into unbelief. With unbelief, comes bitterness of heart. With that may come a departure from the Faith altogether if it goes on unchecked (see Hebrews 3:1-19). Therefore, it is important to challenge what we believe about our past by the Word of God; and likewise, any present day negative circumstance. The difficulty for many is that they believe what they did in the past defines who they are today. This is especially true of those who grew up in a judgmental environment. Because of growing up in the flesh, it is easy to remain flesh-minded. That means there is a natural propensity to cling on to what we did in the flesh. That is one reason when God says, “You are My child,” part of us says, “Yea, but!” It is particularly difficult to stay out of that mindset when a person receives Jesus, then blows it. In this particular case, here are two verses of Scripture to challenge what we think about it. 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (KJV). 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (KJV).
1 Timothy 1:12-16 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, Who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (KJV). Paul did not continue to consider himself a blasphemer or a persecutor, even though it was part of his past. Mull over this, he said he was the chief of sinners; nevertheless, God used Paul mightily. For those of who you who struggle with this issue, perhaps it is time to “make up” for your past by accepting what God says about your present. Let your past serve as a powerful testimony of His grace in your life, and press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Start confessing His Truth over your life: “I am no longer that, I am what God said I am.” Paul knew he could never make up for what he did, but he also realized he never earn God’s love either. In fact, because of the Father’s love for Paul, Jesus saved and used him. Paul received that love and it is time you do as well.
Philippians 3:4-9 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (KJV).
Paul stated that he considered those things he considered a loss as dung. That part of his past that many would consider stellar, he considered worthless. He was determined nothing would come between him and his Lord. If he stood on what he did in relation to the law as a Pharisee, he would have been standing on self-righteousness. Paul had some impressive credentials by which it could have been easy for him to count himself “worthy” to stand before the Lord. If you are not familiar with his story, read the book of Acts and study his epistles, and you will have a greater appreciation for the phrase, “count them but dung.” Our “wonderful past” will never make us worthy. Our worthiness will always be based upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Lord, which we receive through faith.
While it is good to remember the successes we have had in the Lord, we must guard our hearts from those successes taking the place of God, less they become idols. Our testimonies serve as memorials unto God in order to glorify Him. While success helps us to be encouraged in difficult times, we must purpose to encourage ourselves in the Lord. Those victories help us to remember that God is always faithful, and if He did it once, He can do it again. Nonetheless, accomplishments can hinder our present and future. It would be easy to believe that we know just what to do in the future. Ironically, when God came through for us the last time, we did not know what He or we were doing in the first place. If we try to mimic what was done in the past, we can become formulaic in the way we approach circumstances, and miss what God is doing in our present. God has a purpose for every season in our life, which means seasons are not meant to be duplicated. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, KJV). We must cling onto what God is saying now, while remembering what He did in the past. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17); it does not come by adopting traditions of men. It is hard to move forward while trying to recapture the past. Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s not the way we used to do things.” The attitude behind it does not make room for anything new or fresh. It is hard to get fresh air to flow through a house that has its windows and doors closed. Likewise, it is hard to have a fresh move of the Holy Spirit when people are stuck in the past.
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he . . . (KJV).
Receiving the past tenses (grammatically speaking) found in Scripture for ourselves helps us to live in God’s present tense reality. As long as we view them as future tense, we will struggle to be today who we truly are in Christ Jesus. While Philippians 1:6 does say, “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (KJV), which speaks about an ongoing process that continues into our future, there are some things that He has already done in us. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the tenses to better understand what He has accomplished and what He has yet to accomplish. It also helps us better grasp the way God now sees us and the way He sees us in the future. The sooner we embrace His point of view, the quicker we will become who He called us to be. With that acceptance comes a confidence to walk in our God-given authority and power.
Likewise, it may hasten our future into our present. Keep in mind that everyone has a purpose in the Kingdom of God, which means the Father has specific plans for each of us. Some have already been shown His plan for them while others are still waiting to see it. While there is a specific timing in everything the Father does, part of that timing depends on us. Meaning, the quicker we believe the shorter it takes to come to pass. Conversely, the slower we take to believe, the longer it will take to happen. Many delay their destiny through unbelief. They fail to believe His present tense reality, thereby, failing to be who they are currently supposed to be for Him. Once we become who we are called to be, then we will be able to fulfill our calling. They go hand-in-hand. Sometimes our destiny helps shape our identity as we move from glory to glory.
1 Corinthians 2:12,16 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. For who hath known the Mind of the Lord, that He may instruct him? But we have the Mind of Christ (KJV). Knowing what is past tense helps us to know what is currently available, which is another reason we have been given the Mind of Christ. By His Spirit, the Lord reveals to us those things He made accessible to us as part of our inheritance, along with the wisdom and spiritual understanding to use them properly. Thus we read, Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:2-4, KJV).
As we accept what God has said about us, we are able to become who He says we are. We cannot depend on behavior modification to become what we are destined to be. Contrary to popular belief, behavior does not define who we are; rather, who we are and what we believe about ourselves affects our behavior. Repentance is not change of behavior; it is change in the way we think, which in turn changes the way we conduct ourselves. The moment we think about ourselves the way the Father does, is the moment we enjoy the victory Jesus already gave us. For example, as soon as I believe I truly am royalty, I will act like royalty. The minute I believe, I am the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ I will act righteously (see 2Corinthians 5:21). Our approach to life takes on a whole new way of thinking. Briefly, we will look at a couple areas to get the ball rolling.
1 John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is (KJV [see also Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:4-7]). While this passage of Scripture reveals a future tense, it states very clearly that we are His children now. We are His children because of His great love for us. That means we do not have to somehow earn His acceptance; we have it. This past tense makes rejection a thing of the past. When God is your Daddy, why would you need to build your self-esteem by trying to be accepted by others? Somewhere there comes the realization that if the entire world rejects you it does not matter: God loves you! If the world rejected Jesus, it will reject you. Nonetheless, the future tense of the Word says, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4, KJV).
Because we have been baptized into Jesus’ death, we are already counted as dead. Thus we read, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:3-8, KJV). Again we read, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV). If we approach sin from a past tense point of view, we would more readily enjoy the victory Jesus already gave us over it. In fact, we become more conscious of His righteousness dwelling in us than focusing on “not sinning.” If a person is dead, he cannot sin. Therefore, since we are counted as dead, we are no longer considered sinners. Our family ties with the devil are severed, which means we no longer live in darkness, but in Light. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (KJV), and verse 14 says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (KJV). Because grace gave us power over sin, we are no longer obliged to practice it. We are free to live righteously in Christ Jesus. It is important to allow those past tenses in the Word of God to speak to your heart and renew your mind in the process. The more we embrace the past tense as the past tense (looking at them as future tense), the more our thinking will conform to God’s way of thinking.