“May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23
This past week, I’ve been working through the concept of confession, fully surrendering to God and trusting that when I am forgiven, I am fully forgiven, and not picking my sins back up from the cross again. I’ve found myself believing the lie that God is tired of me–weary of the sins I’ve confessed before, annoyed that I’m not ‘better’ or fixed yet. I know that He is faithful and just to forgive me for the sins I lay before Him, and I know scriptures say that when I am forgiven, I am truly forgiven…but because I’m human, and our forgiveness is relative, I make the mistake of thinking God is too.
That when I come to Him again, He’s saying He forgives me, but He’s thinking ‘really? It’s been three days? You couldn’t last a week?’. That He forgives out of obligation, because it’s what He’s supposed to do, and a part of Him is still resentful that I’m back, pleading again.
But that’s who I am, not who He is.
Because He is either Love or He isn’t, He’s either God of Forgiveness or He’s not, and He is not two-faced. He’s not kind and long suffering towards my friends but exacting towards me; He is Mercy and He has mercy, and when I come to Him, claiming 1 John 1:9, truly repentant and humble, any judgement or condemnation that I feel cannot be anything more than an illusion, and listening to it is not the mark of a Godly life. I have berated myself with scripture condemning my actions, fully believing that God is tired of me and weary of my sins, without ever giving Him the option to speak Truth over me. I am too quick to pronounce judgement, and shame myself so loudly that I cannot hear God pronouncing grace.
When I don’t believe that God’s grace is bigger than my failures, it breaks His heart even as it build callouses around mine.
When I draw myself up and refuse to look at Him, I’m declaring my guilt is bigger than His love, my sin is stronger than His grace and that is not His will. That is not the life He has for His children. That is not the voice with which He would have me speak. God is not glorified in my sackcloth and ashes. My remorse does not bring Him glory, nor does my sorrow. He does not delight in my pain and He does not look with satisfaction on my heart hurting.
In the middle of all this ‘working out of my faith’, my devotional this morning pointed me to 1 Thessalonians (Sometimes, it just hits you how outside of time God is, you know? Like this devotional was written in the 1920s , and God knew I would read it this morning. He spoke and, almost a century later, I received these words through the promptings of a book. He’s so good, y’all.) to remind me of three things.
First, that He is the God of peace. When our hearts are humbled in contrition, lowered in confession, broken in humility, He draws near to us. When we are quiet and vulnerable, we let Him in closer, and from there, He does not rejoice in our dejection. He restores us, restores peace, desiring that same stillness, but mending the brokenness.
Second, that God is concerned about the purity and soundness of our spirit, then our soul, then our bodies. It is not one and the other two by default; it is not two, and ignoring the last. It is all three, in each no more important than the last: God wants our hearts, our minds, and our actions. God is not interested in a mind that knows right from wrong, but a body that follows its own leading. He is not honored by actions that follow the law, when the heart is puffed up by self-righteousness. He is not praised by a heart that is soft, but is countered by an untrained mind that disdains His Law. Instead, every part of us can uniquely remind us of Him. In our thoughts, in our hearts, in our deeds, He desires our worship.
Lastly, God does not ask for blamelessness and then step back. He calls us, and is faithful to us, and will work in us until we are in Him as we should be. We don’t have to fight every day on our own, just us versus our sins, with God on the sidelines like a radio commentator. Instead, God fights in us, changing us, purifying us, delivering us.
He who calls us is faithful.
When we confess, it is gone. When we ask, He listens. When we work, He doubles our efforts. On my own, I will never be blameless, but in Him, I will be kept sound until His return.