I had the privilege of spending last week at the Association of Biblical Counselors annual conference with the entire Denton staff and about 70 other Village staff members and lay leaders. I always walk away from conferences and opportunities like this one with an overwhelming gratitude that this is the life the Lord has called me to and that I got to listen and think about the gospel for the better part of three days. As with all conferences, there are certain speakers, ideas and scriptures that leave an indelible impression on my mind.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle. There are hours, days and weeks even where I feel as if I haven’t done anything right, haven’t expressed love to my spouse and friends, haven’t sought the Lord as I ought — you get the idea. In a nutshell, I haven’t been obedient.
Worse still, I feel like every morning I have the chance that day to get it right and that somehow if I do, God will approve and bless and move in my life, in my family and in my church. Sin is subtle and crouches at the door, the Scriptures tell us, seeking someone to devour, and too often that someone is me as I try to exert my will in being acceptable and obedient.
Don’t get me wrong, obedience is an important thing. We are called to it and should seek to live out the commands of Scripture in tangible ways. For me, it’s not the striving after obedience that is the problem; it’s the reason why I’m striving after it. Deep down I mistakenly feel that the gospel doesn’t have enough power to change me and now that Christ has reconciled me to the Father, I need to do a bunch of stuff to prove to God and myself that I was worth the saving. One speaker at the conference shared that Christ’s life, death and resurrection secured for me justification before God so that now God sees Christ’s righteousness when He looks at me.
The most powerful thing about that to me is that God sees me as if I hadn’t ever sinned and also — and this was the big one for me — as if I had always obeyed. This beautiful truth has warmed my heart and freed me to pursue obedience as an expression of love and gratitude, not a veiled attempt to prove my worthiness to God.