By Chad Napier, Crosswalk.com
Nearly thirty years ago, my uncle took my cousins and me to an NBA exhibition game in Knoxville, Tennessee, between the Washington Bullets and the Chicago Bulls. The whole region was excited to have Michael Jordan come to town. We arrived at the arena early to watch warm-ups. This aspect of game night has always fascinated me because of the intricacies one is able to observe even during a “lay-up” line. Appreciating his size, speed, and jumping ability in person was an enlightening perspective so different from the views we are given on television.
The fine details of a professional performing his craft are not isolated to professional athletes. The process and finished works of carpenters, welders, and painters are most admired by those of us who have attempted to do the job ourselves only to realize why we are not given a weekly paycheck for our efforts. We convince ourselves we can do seemingly simple things like dribble a basketball, paint a bathroom, or even build a deck. The results may vary from minimally functional to utter disaster. We quickly realize some jobs are better left to the hands of a professional.
Too often, however, we attempt to do “godly works” in our own lives. The result is always an ineffective disaster making the issue worse than it was in the beginning. As many of us as a child watched Bob Ross turn paint globs of nothing into a masterpiece in 30 minutes, we need to appreciate standing back and watching our God work in our lives for us. He specializes in working with messes.
Here are five ways God works and how we gain strength from them:
1. His Separation
No matter the status or wealth we may accumulate “under the sun,” our God is above anything we can imagine. His magnificence, glory, and holiness separate Him from us. In Psalm 99:2, the psalmist proclaimed the Lord “great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.” Because of God’s magnitude of greatness in Jerusalem, the psalmist also realized man is incapable of physically attaining the heights of God in heaven. Similarly, the prophet Isaiah quickly recognized the majesty of the Lord when he came into His presence. There was a great separation and enmity between man and God. It was a height man could not attain. Sin was and still is that great separation between God and man. Under the old covenant, man could not even enter the holy of holies as it was necessary for the high priest to offer the sacrifices “for the errors of the people.” The sacrificial system only temporarily bridged the gap between heaven and earth as the sacrifices had to be given both properly and continually. Hebrews 9:11 explains that Christ became a “high priest of good things to come.”
Paul in Ephesians 2:15-16 explained that the flesh of Christ abolished the enmity so “that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Similarly, in Romans 5:1, he declared it is because of our justification by faith that “we have peace with God through Lord Jesus Christ.” The vast distance between God and man was bridged by Jesus Christ. He is our mediator and our intercessor still residing at the right side of the Heavenly Father. His priesthood is eternal and eliminated the barrier for the believer. This is a wall man could not overcome in his own power.
2. His Holiness
We can dress ourselves up, follow every self-help book ever written, or even attend every church service in our area, but holiness was and always be the office work of our Lord. James 2:19 gives us confidence in our rightly placed faith for our daily battles. He wrote, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” The mere name of our Lord exudes holiness and righteousness. Our transformation and regeneration from death unto life was through the provision of Jesus Christ by our Heavenly Father.
Paul, in Ephesians 4:24, explained, “And ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” This imputed holiness is the spiritual cleanness through Jesus Christ that is necessary for our acceptability in the eyes of a righteous and holy God. Accordingly, “for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” No yearly sacrifice from the priest is needed for our continual holiness. Hebrews 10:9-10 assures us that Christ came and fulfilled the law, and “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Thus, Christ not only eliminated the enmity of sin between God and man, but His work also cleansed us and imputed His righteousness and holiness upon us. The Holy Ghost sanctifies, or sets us apart, from a dark and blinded world guided by the flesh. Paul was thankful for the elect and assured them, in 2 Thessalonians 2:13, that “because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” We are a holy people because of Him.
3. His Forgiveness for Our Sins
The forgiveness of man, apart from God, is a great limitation. We can only forgive so many times before we totally write the person off. Even when we forgive, we still remember how we were wronged in the recesses of our memory vaults. God’s forgiveness is meted out through His great mercy. We can rejoice in the fact that “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14. Paul informed us in Colossians 2:13 that we were dead in our sins, but Jesus “quickened [us] together with him, having forgiven [us] all trespasses.” Without the blood of Christ, all our “sorries” and “promises to do better” are for naught toward our judgment in sin and how God sees us.
4. In Correction
We consider ourselves parent of the year for rendering a “time out” or grounding our child from social media, television, or electronic devices for bad behavior or disobedience. These attempts at correction strive to correct bad behavior into obedience, but instead mostly serve as a deterrence for further punishment. The law did nothing to change “our want to’s” as man was still under the dominion of sin. Romans 6:14. Our prison system is full of criminals who have no desire for rehabilitation or correcting. Further, before being convicted of our own sinful state by the Holy Spirit, we had no desire to change our ways.
The attempts of “self-help” and “trying to do better” do nothing for our urges to return to our habits. Our faith in Jesus Christ as our propitiation, or deflection, made us “free from sin” and “servants of righteousness” as He suffered the wrath for our sins. The law accomplished the desired result by allowing man to see what in his life needed correcting but did not assist man in correction. Jesus Christ was and continues to be our necessary correction.
5. His Sufficiency
The psalmist in 92:6 mentioned Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as being among the priests who served the people. Despite their anointing and irrespective of their calling, each of them was “among them that call upon his name.” He is omnipresent to be our sufficiency no matter how self-reliant we attempt to make ourselves. We desire the Holy Spirit to be our guide and direction, Jesus Christ to be our mediator and sufficiency for petitions to the Heavenly throne as we praise the Heavenly Father for His graces and petitions for mercies. Paul, in 2 Corinthians 3:5, wrote to the church, “not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” Thus, our titles, membership within the local church, and good works do nothing for our sufficiency. Christ did it all and continues to do so.
Photo Credit: ©Zac Durant/Unsplash
Chad Napier is a believer in Christ, attorney at law, wannabe golfer, runner, dog lover, and writer. He enjoys serving his church as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and fill-in preacher. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. He and his wife Brandi reside in Tennessee with their canine son Alistair.