Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Throne of Grace

After a couple of days with a stomach virus, it is good to be back among the living.  Today I want to talk about a verse that is of great comfort to me as I hope it is to you as well.
For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [points] tempted as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:15-16 NKJV
I love this passage, I really do.  Whenever I mess up, whenever I rebel against God and come again to my senses, whenever I fall into some same old sin that seems to constantly nag at me, and whenever I do anything unbecoming of who I am as a child of God, I have these promise to cling to.  It is easy to just read this passage and be encouraged, but if we take the time to really examine this passage, I am sure we will be even more encouraged.

First we learn that we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.  That High Priest is Jesus Christ, who has suffered every temptation we are faced with, yet overcame all of them.  He understands how strong they can feel.  Please note that Jesus does not excuse our failings, but His sacrifice covers them.  He is not some aloof God who does not understand just what we feel whenever we are being attacked by temptation, but suffered those same temptations when He lived as a man in our midst.  He knows that sometimes we will fail and fall into those sins, even though He did not.  He sympathizes with our weakness.  He chose to die for us knowing that we will continue to fail Him as we grow in Him. 

I think knowing that Jesus suffered the same temptations that we suffer yet was without sin is also of great encouragement.  Please do not think that I am writing today to excuse the sin in our lives, but writing to let you know that the sin you commit is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  I am writing to let you know that those times you do fail are covered under His blood and that even at His death, He knew that you would continue to sin even after receiving His gift of grace.  The fact is, though, is that we should also hate the sin in our lives.  We should hate those times we fail God and have that desire to grow in righteousness as we walk in Christ.  It sometimes seems impossible, it sometimes seems like whatever is tempting us is too strong to bear and that we have no choice but to fail.  Then we read that Jesus, our Lord, suffered these same temptations yet overcame them.  We also know that we can do all things through Christ.  It should be of great encouragement that the strength of our Lord, who overcame all temptation, is the same strength available to us when we face those same temptations.  No matter how compelling any temptation may seem, take heart that in Christ you can overcome. 

But again, for those times we fail, we next learn that we can come boldly to the throne of grace.  Do not miss out on that word "boldly."  We do not have to come to Christ hoping God will allow us to approach Him.  We do not have to wait and hope He invites us into His audience.  We certainly do not need to cower as we enter is presence. We come boldly.  That is not to say arrogantly and it is not to say that we are not to come with a contrite heart, but we are to come boldly.  We are to come with the knowledge that as His children, we can approach Him.  We come confidently that He will hear our prayers.  That is our right as His child, granted to us through the blood of Jesus.  No matter what we do, we are His children, and God wants us to come to Him.  Do not ever be afraid to go to God, but go with boldness knowing He loves you as His child.

Let us also not lose sight that we are coming to the throne of grace.  We are not approaching the throne of judgement.  Judgement was taken care of at the cross and not something we ever have to worry about.  Note that it is also not the throne of chastisement.  Chastisement is for those times we are trying to hide ourselves from God.  No, we are approaching the throne of grace, knowing already that whatever sins we approach with are covered under the blood of Jesus and that our confessions are merely to acknowledge to God our failings to clear the strain in that relationship our actions have created.  We are not coming to a God who is seeking to rebuke us, but to accept our confession in love and grace.

And what do we find at the throne of grace?  "That we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  Mercy and grace at those times we need it the most.  Do we need mercy if we did everything right?  No, we need mercy for those times we fail God.  What kind of circumstance is it where we need grace to help?  Those times when we fail God.  This is a most precious promise and these last few words really bring home the meaning and everything I have been writing about today.  When we come to God needing mercy and grace for those times we fall into sin, we can come boldly to His throne though the intercession of Jesus who paid the penalty for our sins.  When we need grace and mercy, the first thing we should do is go to God and ask for it.  He promises us, His children through Jesus, to grant us that request. 

I hope this was of great encouragement to you today.  I know that I write often about righteous living and the life God has called us to in Jesus Christ.  It is a life we can not achieve on our own strength and whenever we step away from the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we fall.  Whenever we listen to our flesh and give into some temptation, we fall.  Jesus paid for those sins and so coming to God is not coming for judgement for what we have done, but it is to receive grace and mercy because of what Jesus has done for us.  What a blessed promise that is.  Sometimes our thoughts of God as a father get corrupted by our earthly experiences with imperfect earthly parents.  We have mothers who warn us "just wait until dad gets home!"  We have fathers where we know that if we admit the wrong we did, we will receive due punishment.  This is not so with our perfect heavenly Father.  The only people who need to worry when our Lord returns to earth are those who have not accepted the free gift of salvation.  The times we are chastised are those times we live in our sins and do not bring them to God and even then it is only to get us to turn once again to Him.  When we come to our heavenly Father with our wrongdoings, all we find is mercy and grace.  Never fear going to your Father, He is willing to give you that which you need the most, if only you should ask.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9 NKJV

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