What is your relationship with God? How do you think of Him? Many people have a very formal and often harsh idea of God. To them, God is a being who is distant, uncaring and mean-spirited. One who loves to smite evil-doers and is eager to punish those who mess-up. This is commonly the way in which God is pictured.
However this is not the way in which God actually is. In truth the Bible paints a very different picture of God. One who is kind and merciful, who loves to embrace His children and is eager not to smite but to forgive. This is the picture of God which we will be exploring today, so that we will see God for who He truly is.
The most important part of any relationship is to get to know the other person, without this it could be argued that there is no relationship at all. It is the very act of getting to know someone that moves them beyond mere strangers to acquaintances, to close friends and so-on.
Because of this, it is vital that we get to know all that we can about God. And there is no shortage of ideas and theories about His character, nearly all of them different. Yet there is one source that cuts through all of the murky waters of man’s ideas, theories and comments and allows us to see clearly the beauty and majesty of God, and that is why we go right to the scriptures when we want to see every detail of God in a clear manner.
Now there are those who take the position that the Bible paints a picture of an angry and vengeful God, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth. These people are confusing the perfect standards of the Old Testament law with a desire for God to punish; and this is not the case at all.
You see my friends, the Old Testament law was never designed to redeem man, in-fact it was designed to show arrogant and prideful men that they actually needed to humble themselves and accept that they needed saving. The more that men tried to save themselves by their own efforts in keeping the perfect law, the more they failed and thus the more wretched and doomed they were, as rightful punishment was enacted upon them. Let’s examine this in detail in Galatians 2:16-19:
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law will no flesh be justified.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live to God.”
Straightaway we can see that verse 16 confirms we are made righteous by faith in Christ and not by our own works or efforts. You may also notice that the verse says “The Faith of Christ” instead of “faith in Christ”. This is a reference to how Jesus completes our imperfect faith, and I have several other teachings on that specific subject and so we won’t go into it here in this message.
Verses 17-19 are often thought to refer to our keeping the law and a works-based merit-mentality; whereby if we are believing in Christ we should still worry about the law and strive to keep it perfectly or we are found to be guilty anyway. This is obviously not the case, Paul is not double-minded nor is he contradicting what he just wrote one verse above. What these verses are referring to is the idea of how we see ourselves in Christ Jesus. We should be reckoning ourselves as righteous and complete in Christ. We should constantly be reminding ourselves of His finished work on the cross for us and what that work has made us into. We should be living in that truth every single second of every day. Yet there are still many believers who still reckon themselves as “merely sinners”, and they even sing songs about how they are still sinners. And doing that is what Paul is describing here as “building up again what has been destroyed”. Christ has destroyed our old sinful nature and moved us into His righteousness, but some still hang onto that old nature and identify themselves by it instead of laying hold to what Christ has done for them.
We should be living every day seeing ourself as God sees us in Christ Jesus. In Him we are perfectly righteous and able to have fellowship with God, free from any fear or timidity. And this brings us to our main point today, the intimacy that we can have with God because of Jesus Christ.
As I stated earlier, many people still feel a distance between themselves and God… they still feel as though they are not clean enough or deserving enough, and this feeling creates an artificial barrier; a wall which divides and separates them from having a free and open relationship with their Father in Heaven.
My friends that feeling is a deception, it is a trap from the enemy designed to keep you apart from God because the enemy knows that when you discover how close and intimate that you can actually be with God, you will be empowered and stronger than you have ever even thought possible, because God is your ultimate source of strength and power in all things.
You know, Jesus made a very interesting and wonderful statement after He died and was resurrected, and I want you to see it for yourself because they are His own words in John 20:16-17:
“Jesus says to her, Mary. She turned herself, and says to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Jesus says to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
Today we are the brethren of God, and today because of Christ’s sacrifice in our place and as us, we can freely call God “Father” (or whatever intimate loving name you use for “Daddy”).
Does that seem strange? Only if you still have some artificial barrier that would block you from being truly intimate with God. You cannot truly love someone if you are afraid or intimidated by them. You cannot truly have a loving relationship if you think that they are judging you or looking at you with disapproving or judgmental eyes. This is why the righteousness of Jesus is so important for us to receive, because when we are truly made aware that His righteousness is ours today, then we can be certain that God has nothing against us anymore. Our sin debt has been paid in full by Jesus Christ.
Today, we are free to be intimate with God, to love and be loved by Him. Forevermore.