I remember the day I read Romans 5:5 and how “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” It’s such a powerful image. Think of God pouring His love into us–like from a great heavenly pitcher. It’s abundant and free-flowing. It reminds me of 1 John 3:1 where we read this declaration: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
What a glorious verb! Lavish! Picture this display of God’s love over your life.
Today I consider what conditions we must meet to enjoy this great poured-out and lavish love. Is it our good behavior? Is it our service? It is anything we do at all? What must we do but enjoy Jesus and what He’s already accomplished for us?
There’s a treacherous lie that forms around these questions.
As I prepare to speak virtually at a women’s retreat this weekend, I’m aware of the heaviness of the lie in my own heart and in the hearts of so many who feel ashamed, unworthy, or trapped in sin. I’m aware how many of us wake up and feel God is primarily angry or disappointed in us. The lie takes root:
We feel cut off from His love.
We feel God is mad at us.
We feel ashamed that we should be better at this point in our lives.
What can I say except it’s not true? What can I say but this: I invite myself and others into David’s own heart in Psalm 51 where he famously asks God: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and renew a right spirit within me.” We must continually stand in the truth of Romans 8:1 that there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We must battle for the truth that the gospel is Christ’s righteousness applied to us, for all time.
Otherwise, we’re telling ourselves that God’s attitude towards us depends on our good behavior. Once we confess sin and ask God to help us keep in step with God’s spirit (which you can do this very moment!) we can press on knowing that at all times “God is for us” and not against us (Romans 8). Maybe someone needs to read Paul’s words afresh today. When you don’t feel God’s love, when you feel condemned or ashamed, or when you feel outside of God’s blessing, remember this passage:
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? . . . For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, consider that Jesus is interceding now for you and me because Satan works as our constant tormenting accuser. We read in Revelation 12:10 about Satan as “the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night.”
Not today! You are free from all accusation and all condemnation. Ask God to renew your joy in Him and help you experience the love He never takes away from you. And if there are areas of your life that you need to confess as sin, picture Jesus with you, working on it together with you.
God is delighted by you (Psalm 18:19). His love for you is more than you can comprehend (Ephesians 3). This is why the gospel is such profoundly good news. Any other gospel is simply telling you to be a better person to win God’s favor. It’s just not true.