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photo credit: robertmorgan.net via photopin cc
photo credit: robertmorgan.net via photopin cc

Having walked all my days in Christian circles, I have heard many of my brothers and sisters bemoan their failure.

They seem to have this seismometer attached to their life that detects the smallest failure, and magnifies it, codifies it, and preps it for detailed examination.

They spend much time shocked and dismayed that they have committed this sin or that. They fall to the feet of Jesus and beg forgiveness. They up their discipline structure, and demand of themselves longer times of solitude, longer fasts, longer times in scripture, more strict ethical and moral codes, long lists of resolutions.

It reminds me of what Jesus said about the Pharisees.

They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. - Matthew 23:4

But we are doing this to ourselves!

We stack up the UNKEEPABLE law against our own lifestyle and count ourselves as failures.

You do remember that the law is, in fact, UNKEEPABLE. That is why Jesus took on flesh, lived by the Spirit, died, and rose again from the dead. In the flesh we can only fail.

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, - Romans 8:3

When we judge ourselves against the law we will always come up as having fallen short, we come up as failures.

The problem is, as long as we continue to measure ourselves against the law, we will continue to see ourselves as failures.

The word I never hear applied to a Christian is success. We are willing to self-identify as failures, but not as successes.

I understand that any success we have would be Jesus’ success, but isn’t that true with our failures too?

I am convinced that this sells the blood of Christ short. When we see ourselves as failures in the Christian life, we are in effect accusing Christ Himself of failing.

He who came to save us from our sin, to save us to the uttermost IS NO FAILURE!

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. - Hebrews 7:25 KJV

Nope – the cross was a total success.

We must stop judging ourselves against the law of sin and death. It’s killing us.

Yesterday I told a parable about a prisoner set free, consider today this alternate ending to a similar parable.

Picture in your minds eye a man chained at the wrists to a wall in a dungeon. The shackles are cutting into this flesh. He is dirty and mostly naked.

Now see Jesus walk into that filthy prison cell holding a key. With this key, He unlocks the shackles, draws him a bath and lays out fine, clean and costly garments. These garments actually match His own.

Now picture in your minds eye this same man going back to the chains on the wall of his prison and taking them in his hands and holding onto them, unwilling to leave his filthy cell. These chains are all he knows.

Even after his bath, he is unwilling to put on the garments provided by Christ, because he still sees himself as dirty. He walks, clean but still half naked, back in his filthy garments, to the wall and clings to his chains. They are no longer holding him. Now he is holding them.

Though Christ has made him clean, and clothed him in righteousness, he cannot see himself the way Christ sees him, and so he goes back and holds onto the chains of Law. He refuses the clean garments of the spiritual life, and embraces these chains.

When he looks at himself, he only sees that he is still in the dungeon, still dressed in rags, and still chained to the law.

Oh dear one, I implore you, take a look at yourself the way God says that He sees you.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21

Walk in life and freedom today. God’s work in you was successful.

If you have never accepted the free gift of that righteousness do it today. Trade in your rags for a tailor made suit of righteousness.

Ben NelsonThanks for coming by.

See you again soon.

Ben

Many Waters - SoS header

How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!
Your eyes are like doves behind your veil;
Your hair is like a flock of goats
That have descended from Mount Gilead.

Song of Songs 4:1

Before we dig into this amazing description of the Shulamite through the eyes of the Lover of her soul, I want to step and look at the birds eye view of what’s going on.

The Journey into the Image of Christ

At the end of Chapter 2, you may remember, our maiden demonstrated here own failure, her fear of walking out into that to which the Lord was calling her. Though it was the desire of her heart to run with Him, to follow Him with abandon, in the day of her first calling she held back, she hesitated.

How does the Lord correct His beloved? How does He draw her further? How does He help a Christian grow?

We see a three step plan which not only restores her, but creates a platform for growth in the very area of her weakness.

I want to remind you here. None of us come to the Lord without shortcomings and places we must grow. In fact Christianity is the only club you can join where the only entrance requirement is your lack of qualification.

In some circles the pressure to perform in a Christ-like manner beyond our actual growth creates groups of Pharisee-hearted followers to whom the Lord would say,

"But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." - Matthew 9:13

The very fact that we are growing in Christ likeness, growing in godliness, says that we have weakness. This growth process is the Christian life. This is, in effect, one of the major patterns of the vibrant Christian life.

Three Step Plan

First, the Lord goes on without her. He let’s her feel His absence. He lets her feel the impact of her choice, the cost of her weakness. God is so good. He draws us forward into areas He know we struggle with, specifically so we can gain personal understanding of why we need to grow out of that weakness.

The next step in her (our) restoration and growth is that Christ shows up and demonstrates His overwhelming strength in that very area of weakness.

She was afraid to go out into the wilderness, so He shows up with sixty armed guards. That is quite a show of force.

Chapter four of the song we find the final step in her restoration, and we will see that she takes a HUGE step of growth in faith when it is all said and done.

Step three consists of affirmation. The Shepherd King now speaks to her for the first time since her failing manifested.

His words are not correction.
He does not speak of disappointment.
He does not speak of any weakness at all.

He affirms her, and declared into her life the beauty and character that He sees.

It is a prophetic declaration, because the Lord sees our potential, and speaks into that potential, so that we can see it too.

As with Peter on the beach after the resurrection, there is no mention of the failure here, only affirmation of who we are called to be, and who He is growing us into.

As we look at these affirmations over the next couple weeks, let them stir up faith in the Lord how is growing you into the image of His Dear Son.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by.

Have an awesome Lord’s day.

See you again soon.

Ben