When someone tells you that they love you, do they really accept you just the way you are? The Bible tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).” But do you truly believe that you are accepted? Love becomes practically meaningless apart from acceptance.
Most Christians can quote John 3:16, but go through life believing God couldn’t possible be pleased with them because of their failures and disobedience, trying to live up to God’s standards. Often it’s not God’s standards they are trying to live up to, often it’s the rules and regulations they place on themselves and others place on them.
Example: Years ago I attended a church where the pastor believed men should only wear long sleeve shirts and long pants, all the time; women should wear dresses only; and these are only two things I’ll mention. (We live in the south, for crying out loud.) I felt like he was putting his own convictions on the congregation, thinking it would make everyone look more holy. What some think is holy a lot of times, is man-made rules they want others to follow. We can’t live up to someone’s standards. I must admit, I didn’t pay any attention to these rules.
This is called the “Phantom Christian.” It’s that imaginary person that we would compare ourselves to. The Phantom Christian is that person who does everything according to the standard they set, and expect everyone else to follow. This comparison does nothing but place a person under continual guilt. I watched one time, a secretary of one pastor, come up to a new believer and tell her, “We don’t allow cool-lots in this church (those were the skirt in front and shorts in the back). I was furious. This poor woman had just been saved the night before and after she was told what to wear, we never saw her again. ( I don’t recall Jesus mentioning what the woman at the well was wearing before He told her about His living water.) Needless to say, after this I was not there very much longer.
This kind of thinking puts people in bondage. They eventually stop attending church and praying because they feel God doesn’t hear their prayers anyway. God’s love is not some impersonal, vague, universal love.
In truth, God’s true acceptance of us in Christ and the inheritance we have in Him is simply not taught enough.
Ask yourself this question: Am I, in the sight of God, righteous and accepted as Jesus Christi is? Christians know that they are “justified by faith,” but do most know what that means?
If you are a Christian, born-again, blood bought, then you are as righteous and acceptable in the sight of God, as Jesus Christ is!
The Bible goes to great lengths to make this clear. Romans 5:17 – For if by one man’s offense death reigned through one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through One, Jesus Christ. Christ took our sin, and gave us His righteousness.
Our righteousness is a right standing of total acceptability before God. It is a gift. We didn’t work for it; we didn’t earn it, and we certainly didn’t deserve it. All you can do is accept it or reject it.
So if we, and we are, justified by faith, we are declared totally righteous in the sight of God. Our acceptance is not based on our performance! God sees His Son, Jesus, when He sees you and me! That is not saying that our behavior doesn’t need to be modified or we continue to live anyway we think. When we believe right, we will start doing right. Change your thinking, and the behavior will follow.
Our prayer life will change too when we know we are fully accepted. How we pray reveals our perception of God’s acceptance and what we think His will is for our lives. This is huge!!!
This belief of being accepted by God gives us the confidence to go boldly to His throne of grace so that we receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Too many people think they are not worthy enough to ask God for anything. We let our failings stand in the way of receiving grace to get us through the storm and the mercy of knowing and trusting that God will help us.
None of us could ever have been bold enough on our own, but because Jesus lives on the inside of each of His children, we have confidence He will hear us, by faith.
Ephesians 3:12 – “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. That’s why we pray, “In Jesus Name.”
To pray in Jesus Name means two things. First, we are recognizing that apart from Jesus there is no way that we could be accepted by a holy God. Second, we are declaring that because of Jesus and what He has done, we can boldly approach God’s throne of grace with all confidence, He will accept us with open arms.
Galatians 3:27 – For as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.
Here’s where it gets sticky: Yes, we are accepted, but not everything we do is beneficial – all right for us to do. The Holy Spirit, living on the inside of each believer brings forth God’s truth and lets us know we need to; change an attitude that’s out of line in order to change our actions, behavior. So how do these changes start? They begin to take place when we renew our minds with the Word of God. The most powerful experience a person can ever have is accepting God’s unconditional love in and through Jesus Christ!
These are foundational truths that every Christian should know, but not all were taught. We don’t have to live up to anyone’s standards that are not according to the Word of God. We learn from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit living and breathing on the inside, what is right and what is wrong.