Yahweh said to me, “Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, you backsliding Israel,’ says Yahweh; ‘I will not look in anger on you; for I am merciful,’ says Yahweh. ‘I will not keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against Yahweh your God, and have scattered your ways to the strangers under every green tree, and you have not obeyed my voice,’ says Yahweh.” “Return, backsliding children,” says Yahweh; “for I am a husband to you. I will take one of you from a city, and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
The enemy would have you waiting all your lives for a great conversion experience with God. He would have you hold out for this, and you not come to God at all, in your waiting. The enemy is for teachings that put coming to God out of reach for most people. Teachings that over define conversion and the life of faith wrongly, defining people out of simple faith and trust in God and His mercy and graciousness received through Jesus. Jesus rather spoke of faith as a small mustard seed. Jesus spoke hopefully of a very small and what some may consider doubtful beginnings.
Only acknowledge your iniquity, these words were mercifully spoken to God’s disobedient people. The exact same faith is required to turn back to God in Christ as is to initially turn to God in Christ. We all must be turning again and again from our sin, our sinful self-righteousness, our sinful coldness, turning from our selves to Jesus. The last devotional I wrote was much against self-righteousness. I do want to clarify one thing. God can save the self-righteous, that is the self-righteous who acknowledge their self-righteousness, and turn from it, acknowledging this sin, and turning to Jesus. There is no sin, or type of sinner the mercy of God cannot reach, if the sinner turns to Jesus acknowledging their need, their sin. We are all self-righteous to one degree or another, that is part of our humanness, our sinfulness that remains and clings to us all. Acknowledge this universal sin, acknowledge that our own righteousness, or righteousness we can give to God, in obedience and love, has nothing to do with being justified or blessed by God, in a certain sense. The only righteousness, love and obedience that matters as far as being credited righteous with God is the Righteousness and Love of Jesus. This I believe is by far the greatest stumbling block to would-be believers. The stumbling block of trying to give righteousness and love for Righteousness and Love. The Mercy, Righteousness and Love of God is only received by faith and trust never earned or paid for by us. God provides for us our own faith, love and obedience, He is the pure source, the only source from which these come. He is the good tree that bears good fruit, from within us. He Himself is the only source of good fruit.
Have you been trying to earn salvation and favor with Jesus through your own obedience and love. Simply acknowledge and admit this sin. Come to Jesus as you are a self-righteous person in need of Him. Do not try to rid yourself of self-righteousness before coming to Jesus, that is not how we turn from sin. We turn from sin by turning to Jesus as needy sinners, only acknowledging our sin and desperate need of Him to take care of it for us. We turn from our sin by taking confidence off the sinner and placing it on the Savior. We cannot just turn from certain individual sins we must turn from a certain individual sinner, and all that sinners attempted righteousness, that individual sinner being our own selves. Only Jesus can deal with our sin, we cannot. Come to Him in all your sin with no payment in hand at all. He has provided all the payment needed, and provides the help needed. God is not a respecter of persons, no “goodness” from us is accepted, only our faith in and need of His goodness given and provided for us. After coming to Him and accepting His free gift, then you will begin seeing His mercy, graciousness, His love, His obedience, His Spirit within you beginning to overcome your own sin and disobedience. Darkness being conquered and overcome by light. The experience of His mercy, graciousness, and love will vary much depending on our valuing, seeking, loving, and cherishing of Jesus. If our lives are dominated, led and ruled by His gentle Spirit, we will become increasingly “greedy” for Jesus, we will want more and more of Him, He will give more and more experience and knowledge of His grace and love. If our lives are dominated by selfish ambitions, worries and cares of the world, and so on, we cannot expect much experience and knowledge of Jesus, as we are obviously “not that into Jesus”.
Are you a cold person towards Jesus, with no love for Him. Simply acknowledge your sin of coldness and lack of love for Jesus. Come to Him as you are, a sinner with very little love for Jesus. Do not try to give him a down payment of love and affection. Trust only Him to save the cold sinner that you are. I am confident if you give up on paying even a little for your salvation, you will come to experience love and affection for Jesus in time. Placing the weight of your leaning and trust on Him, and ask Him to help you put more of your trust on Him. Look to Him to give you the love and affection He requires from all.
The enemy would have you turning away from your true hope, God. (Father, Son, Spirit) He would have you looking to yourself, in regards to your salvation. Did you do this? Did you pray this? Did you make a certain commitment? Did you have a certain amount of emotion? Did you? Did you? This is his most sly scheme, turning us away from Jesus, and to looking to ourselves, turning us from our hope and strength, and turning us to our own weakness, sin and hopelessness. In a sense we are to examine ourselves, but it is a looking for Christ presently within us, it is not looking at specific aspects of our conversion experience.(2 Corinthians 13:5) So even in looking to ourselves we are looking to Christ. This looking to Jesus is what the enemy is always trying to keep us from doing, the enemy knows that faith, hope, joy and strength are found in looking to Jesus.
You may have had just enough faith in the God’s freely given salvation in Jesus, just a mustard seed of true faith is all it takes to be saved. This small true faith in the great mercy and goodness of Jesus, has saved you. This small faith has not yet given you the assurance of His love and experience of His love you desire. Keep looking to Jesus with this same hopeful faith for more of Him, more of His mercy, more of His love, more assurance and help from His gentle Spirit. Do not let the enemy or others turn you away from a small, weak, but true faith in our merciful, loving and good God. Keep your faith where it belongs in God’s hands, in Jesus’s keeping, sustaining and finishing. Only look to Him for the increase of your experience, your affection, your love, your obedience, which is the working of God within you. I believe if you persevere in this looking to God for his provided faith and love to you, going to Him through communion with Him in His word and prayer, you will not be disappointed, do give it time, if required though. God is a merciful, gracious and loving God. If we would only believe this, what troubles, we trouble ourselves with would fade away more and more, in time.