Day 71: The Throne of Grace
YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN HEAVEN
I often hear Christians complain that they don't know how they can possibly trust God when they endure so much suffering. Their struggles, unmet desires, and the evil they contend with seem to compel us to question God's goodness and faithfulness. After all, isn't God all-powerful? Doesn't he have the power to stop all the wrong, all the suffering, and all the pain? We feel alone in such situations, and we doubt whether God really cares at all.
If we're being honest at first glance, God's response to these things seems unfair at best, and downright insane at worst. Rather than eradicating all forms of suffering, God allows evil to continue, calls us to Himself, and finally calls us to love those who harm us. Although God's stance seem to be drastically contrary to what we want, with close examination it becomes evident that it is what we need: a life free to ache, experience healing, and offer grace.
Matthew 13:24-30 details the Parable of the Weeds, and it has some pretty heavy theological implications for this issue. Go and read it, then come back and we'll discuss it a little more.
Even Jesus' disciples had to ask Jesus for further clarification about what this little story meant. Check out later in chapter 13, verses 36-43. So we have the wheat being representative of God's people, and the weeds representative of "everything that causes sin and all who do evil." The implications of this parable seem to say that God allows evil to continue because if he destroyed them, we would simultaneously be destroyed. So before all the plants are uprooted, God allows the good and evil to grow together so that the good can reach their maturity.
This parable is very akin to God's stance in the Abrahamic covenant, where Israel was under the law, not grace. Although God's policy did indeed allow his people to mature, it didn't comfort or protect them. We needed something more.
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. -Psalm 101:3
But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. -Matthew 5:28
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, -Matthew 6:22
If anyone can comprehend or understand what we’re going through, it’s Jesus. He was tempted in every way, faced every trial, and weathered every storm. He was born rejected and poor, he bore the contempt of a lawbreaker, was betrayed by his closest friends, and was publicly shamed and humiliated. And with all of that, he was steadfast and stood strong in his faith. He did that to live a life of suffering (one that we could relate to), and to overcome all that we face (to give us hope).
Think if Jesus would have come differently - say if he had been born under royalty and exalted as a prince and king. Had he lived a life of luxury and comfort, free of pain or suffering, died at a ripe old age, we would be justified in protesting that God is unable to empathize with us. But instead, Jesus stepped down from the glory that is rightly his and took the place of a servant.
Have you often found it hard to relate to our heavenly father? Does it sometimes seem like He might not know what you’re going through? I remember thinking the exact thought above. But the truth is, Jesus knows exactly what we're going through; not only because He is God, but also because he lived it. Sometimes we get too caught up in what we're going through to remember that He endured far more than we ever will - and He overcame it, and now offers that to us.
Allow us to briefly mention that Jesus does not simply leave us there, he calls us to love others, just as He has loved us. This is arguably the most difficult aspect of how God handles injustice - he calls us to forgive and love our persecutors. For the sake of this lesson, however, let us return to how we can approach Jesus in confidence, knowing that he empathizes with our condition.
BE CONFIDENT IN GOD'S GRACE
Allow the confidence that comes with knowing Christ and the Holy Spirit drive you to approach God. Have no fear of temptation, it has no hold and no power over you. You are a rescued captive; don’t wander back into that place of shame and torture. We all stumble in our journey towards freedom, but complete and total purity is real for all of us. If you’ve made it this far and still continue in sin, let's approach the throne of God’s grace together and humbly look at the areas you need to change. The throne of grace is simply a state of mind and a state of heart. It's recognizing the debt we owe and who paid the price for it. Often there are things that hold us back from approaching this throne. It can even be something that has been taught so far in this course.
For me the most difficult aspect to apply was the amputation of sources of temptation, confession to my spouse, and accountability. I’m willing to bet it’s probably one of these for you too. Understand this: if we refuse to apply the word of God in our lives, if we continue to deliberately ignore His truth, we will fail to find total freedom from sexual sin.
Many Christians are walking backwards, stumbling with the same addictions that have haunted them for years. We wonder why, and all the while our hearts are far from Him, we aren't spending time in prayer, we aren't reading His word, we aren’t going to church and gaining fellowship, and we aren’t allowing ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. Underneath it all may lie the assumptions that God can't possibly understand or relate with what you're going through, and that fellowship with him will be fruitless. But it is no wonder we think Jesus doesn't get it when, in reality, we really don't get Jesus.
We are called to more than this… We are called to the throne of grace that lasts for eternity - the opportunity to approach that throne, however, does not.
Day 71 Application
According to Hebrews, we are to approach God's throne of grace in confidence. Have you felt confident coming before God? How are we able to have that confidence? Of the lessons we’ve learned, which have been the hardest for you to apply? Be completely honest here.
Is your purity and freedom important enough for you to change your habits and/or lifestyle? In other words, are you truly ready to make the necessary changes? What can you change to apply the lessons that have been difficult for you thus far? Will you approach the throne of grace today?
What implications does grace have on our sexuality in general? How would you communicate that to a non-believer?
How have you seen grace at work in your life? Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?