Loved and Accepted in Christ
In his book Galatians For You, Timothy Keller says that the gospel is “the message that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope….”
Let’s start with the bad news. Few of us truly understand how much our sin offends our holy God. We are most prone to compare ourselves to others, and consider we are “not so bad.” But God is perfect, and we are not. God’s “eyes are too pure to look on evil; [He] cannot tolerate wrongdoing” (Habakkuk 1:13).
Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things that are an abomination to God. Are you guilty of any of these? (Don’t lie and say you don’t lie!):
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
If that list is not convicting enough, you can read more acts of unrighteousness in Galatians 5:19-21. And be aware that even if you refuse to acknowledge any of those sinful acts or thoughts in yourself, the apostle John says, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). You’ll need to be honest with yourself here if you have any chance of moving forward. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7).
So that’s the bad news. Ready for some good news? This is such a profound truth that huge books have been written about it. Bottom line: “If we confess our sins, he is just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
You see, Jesus came into the world for a very specific purpose. This was announced to Joseph by an angel. Joseph was told, “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, emphasis added). How did He do that? By dying on the cross, taking our sin upon Himself, and paying the price God demanded. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
By Jesus’ sacrifice we are made righteous so that God will accept us—as long as we accept His free gift of salvation (see, e.g., Romans 6:23; Galatians 2:16; John 5:24).
Profoundly, we are told that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He is so passionate about this that He “gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17).
The apostle Paul explains the powerful truth that we are “loved and accepted in Christ” in this extended message to the Ephesian believers:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)
If you have not yet accepted this incredible gift of salvation through Christ, would you do so today? “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
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- Timothy Keller, Galatians For You (God’s Word For You) (The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition), p. 5. ↑