Loving Christ and Making Him Known
By Marcelo Tolopilo
Waxing and waning
We are all at different places in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. Whether new babes in Christ or seasoned saints, we wax and wane in our relationship with Him. There are periods when our commitment is strong, our obedience fervent, and our joy full. Yet at other times we struggle with our dedication to the Lord, and our affections for Him waver accordingly.
Hopefully, as we grow in our knowledge of God and His Son (2 Peter 1:2), our “waxing” will increasingly eclipse our “waning”, but even so, we are all certain to suffer through times of spiritual drought, mostly self-inflicted. Until we enter His presence, we will all struggle to love Christ consistently. We will have to fight (by His grace) our flesh and this world that so powerfully pulls us away from intimacy with our Savior. That is why our desire this year is to encourage us all to draw near in fellowship to our beloved Lord Jesus.
With that in mind, we should ask ourselves a sincere question, “What is the level of personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ at this point in my life?” Do you find yourself in a place where His fellowship is the joy of your day? Is your worship of Jesus vibrant, biblically fed, and driven? Do you treasure Christ? Do you delight in the excellence of His character? Do you luxuriate in His companionship and faithful love? If so, may that be your ever increasing experience. Or do you presently find yourself aloof from Christ, cool in your affections toward Him, and treasuring this world more than the Savior who reconciled you to God? Perhaps you are somewhere in between these two realities.
Notwithstanding where you are today in your attitude toward Christ, one thing is certain, you and I will waver in our love for Him. Whether through neglect or willful sin, we will at times find ourselves distanced from our Master, and when we are, we will need His restoring grace.
A call to repentance
In light of this reality, I would like to address the subjects of repentance (this issue) and the grace that makes our restoration possible (following issue). We must wrap our arms around these principles, because at one point or another we will find ourselves in need of God’s restoring grace, and the new beginning that only His unmerited favor affords us.
For some of you, you have need of a fresh start today. You sense that you are distant from Christ (and as the old saying goes, “Guess who moved?”, and you fully recognize the need to repent of your heart condition. You long to experience God’s gracious gift of renewed intimacy with Him and His Son.
Confessing our sin
If this describes your situation and desire, I invite you first to reach out to God by repenting of your wayward heart which begins by confessing your sin to the Lord (1 John 1:9). “Confession” is a concept that has been mongrelized by time and usage; however, the true meaning of “confession” comes from the New Testament word “homologeo,” which literally means “to say the same thing.” Consequently, to confess our evil means that we acknowledge our sin to the Lord recognizing the horrible offense it is to Him, a holy God. We sincerely cry out to God from our broken condition and acknowledge our failures and transgressions to Him.
Turning from sin, and turning to God
Having recognized our sin for what it is, true repentance continues when we turn away from our wrongdoing and foist ourselves into the arms of our great and gracious God. In other words, when we perceive our sin for the evil that it is, we abandon it. We renounce it. We divest ourselves of it like filthy clothing. A cold and unresponsive heart may be the product of spiritual neglect (e.g., failure to personally study God’s truth, putting the world’s treasures above Christ, or placing ourselves, our desires and agenda above God’s instruction), or the outcome of blatant sinful choices (e.g., clinging to bitterness, accommodating secret sins, tolerating evil influences in our lives and homes). Whatever the sinful cause of our spiritual waywardness, we must renounce our sin and turn to the Lord.
A marvelous miracle of grace
When we recognize our sin for what it is, acknowledge it to the Lord, forsake it, and cling to our Redeemer in faith, something quite marvelous happens. God in His mercy is moved by compassion to forgive our many transgressions regardless of what they may be, and to restore us to a right relationship with Him. That is indescribably joyous to me! To think that a wholly, holy God forgives my guilt and embraces me with His love and acceptance collapses me to my knees in grateful worship. This divine pardon, my friends, is the gracious promise of God in scripture to all who genuinely repent.
The apostle John put it this way in his first epistle, “If we confess our sins (homologeo – “to say the same thing.” By the way, this implies our turning from sin as well. It makes no sense to humbly recognize the utter heinousness of our offense, to be broken over our wickedness, and then simply wallow in it without turning from it. That would not be a true confession of our iniquity, but simply identifying the filth we enjoy.), He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
When we repent, God’s faithful and unwavering response is to forgive, to cleanse, to restore. What a gracious God we serve! He gives us a new start, predicated on His matchless grace which is exhaustive, and inexhaustible ~ concepts we will explore in our next issue.
If you desire to walk intimately with Christ, but find yourself far from Him, I invite you to repent. Confess your sin to the Lord, turn from it, cling to Him and begin to enjoy the transforming fellowship of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.