Christian, raise your hand if you have been there before. You know that the bible repeatedly says that God loves his children, but in light of your constant struggles, you still struggle to believe He is happy with you or pleased with you.
None of us can ignore the fact that we fail, even after becoming a follower of Christ. We often ask a scary question: God loves me, but is He honestly pleased with me?
The Uncomfortable Answer
For a perfect God to be pleased with you, you need to perfectly carry out his will. You likely already know this, which means that you already know the bad news: you can’t live like that.
We aren’t sinless. We aren’t perfect. We still don’t have what it takes to live perfectly, even if we have been walking with God for decades.
So we are left asking ourselves: how can I know that God is pleased with me? How can I know that I am good enough? How can I know that he still calls me his kid?
The crushing answer: be perfect.
Our good news: Jesus answered for you.
Jesus’ Work Is For More Than The Altar Call
If we forget that Jesus answered on our behalf, we will slowly creep into a legalism that tells us we need to earn God’s favor, even after coming to him by grace through faith.
We rightly remember that Jesus’ work on the cross is the only way for God’s wrath to be satisfied. We forget, however, that Jesus didn’t just die for us–He lived for us. This important fact is referred to as Jesus’ active obedience.
We Needed More Than A Reset
Jesus’s death on the cross means that God’s wrath was absorbed, but that isn’t enough. You and I need more than a reset with God. Being neutral before God is not the same as being pleasing and holy before God.
Jesus pointed out that we need a righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees. He said that we need to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Again, this leaves us with a problem; we can’t muster up that obedience.
God didn’t send Jesus to earth on Good Friday and say, “Die for the sins of your people and that will take care of it.” No. Jesus not only had to die for our sins, but He had to live for our righteousness. If all Jesus did was die for your sins, that would remove all of your guilt, and that would leave you sinless in the sight of God, but not righteous. You would be innocent, but not righteous because you haven’t done anything to obey the Law of God which is what righteousness requires. (RC Sproul)
We need Jesus to do more than merely put us back to square one. We need Jesus to “fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) We need Jesus to do more than take away our punishment for sin; we need Jesus to accomplish the perfect obedience to God that we owe.
He did. Perfectly. Completely. Fully. Jesus accomplished this obedience in a way that you or I never could. The miracle of God’s grace is not just that he gives you a second chance to earn your way to Him, it’s that He takes away your penalty and He earns your credit of perfect obedience on your behalf.
Jesus didn’t just appease The Father’s wrath on your behalf, He accomplished perfect obedience on your behalf. There is nothing left for you to earn. There is no righteousness to surpass–Jesus surpassed it for you.
This is where knowing soteriology (theology of salvation) affects our hearts on a practical level.
Jesus’ Active Obedience and Our Souls
Christians, we need to be focused on the active obedience of Jesus on our behalf. God’s love for us, His pleasure with you and your security, is not bound up in Jesus’ death plus your obedience record afterward.
God’s pleasure is bound up in Jesus’ death and Jesus’ perfect obedience. Jesus not only took God’s wrath off of our shoulders, but he gives us his very own perfect obedience so that we can stand before the judge as wholly loved, accepted, and pleasing. If we think that there is anything left to earn we become functional Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
This doesn’t negate the need for a Christian to obey God’s word (Romans 6, 1 John, etc). However, it transforms the way that we view obedience to God as His kids.
On a Tuesday you don’t have to earn a happy status with God, even with all of the garbage you did on Monday. You can not fall in and out of a state of grace.
Because of Jesus’ obedience, even our feeble obedience brings pleasure to God (when done in faith), because His obedience makes our obedience acceptable.
Think about how free this makes us! Think about how amazing this is! Our sin is removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Even more, God is as pleased with us as he is pleased with his own beloved son (Mark 1:11, Matthew 25:23).
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
Christian, If you are wondering if God loves you, is happy with you, or is pleased with you, then do not look at yourself. Our righteousness is not good enough, whether we are saved or unsaved. Look to Jesus. He has earned the perfection that you never could.