God’s gracious gift of salvation is for everyone…for He wants all to be saved.( I Timothy 2:4) But we shouldn’t take His slowness in judgement as a sign of weakness, indecision, or wavering…but rather as long-suffering. For it’s only by God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience is He willing to give all of us the time to change our minds and repent.
There’s nothing like a fresh, hot loaf of homemade bread just out of the oven. The wonderful smell fills the kitchen and my husband is usually there waiting patiently…butter knife in hand. But what happens to that homemade bread in a few days? What satisfies our hunger for a few days suddenly becomes moldy and uneatable. And that’s the biggest difference between natural and spiritual bread. Natural bread has a short shelf-life…but spiritual bread is eternal. Natural bread will never totally fill you up…you’ll keep getting hungry, while spiritual bread lasts forever. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
This new life that Paul speaks of – is taking off the old and putting on our new self. But for many of us, this is a painful, almost impossible struggle. For when doubt and fear have our minds so conditioned, anything that’s new or requires us to be bold, will be met with resistance. We want to change, but fear has us so bound up – we can’t. And so we wrestle with God. But wrestling with God is a good thing. For God isn’t our opponent, it’s rather our old self and fear we’re battling against . And as long as we continue to grapple with God, we’re still engaged and interacting with Him…and hopefully listening along the way. In Genesis 32:28, after Jacob and the Lord had wrestled all night, God gave Jacob a new name. And God has a new name for you too, but it involves the renewing of your mind. It means taking on a new self-perception of who you are in Christ…and then accepting that daily restoration of your inner strength…so that you may be victorious over doubt and fear.
What does being a “good person” mean to you? Maybe your list contains all the things you do. You donate, you volunteer, you help your neighbor. Or maybe your “good person” list contains all the things you don’t do. You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. You don’t swear, or watch X rated movies. All of us have mental lists that make up what being a “good person” constitutes. But just being a “good person” will not get us to heaven…for our eternal life is not hinged on anything we will ever do or not do. That’s because it’s only by the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice for us that we can have the hope of eternity with Him. The very foundation of Christian faith is based on this one truth…Jesus Christ came to save the world from sin and He is the only way to God…for just being a “good person” will never rescue you from going to Hell.
At the end of all Believer’s lives we would hope to be able to echo Paul’s words here. Yes, I’ve struggled against temptation daily, but I’ve valiantly tried to remain honest and upright before the Lord. I’ve professed my faith to others…contending for the prize… the victor’s crown of eternal life. And in the end, like Paul, I wish to be able to say with confidence, that I have finished the race and completed the task- the ministry- that the Lord Jesus Christ has laid out before me. (Acts 20:24)