Read: Exodus 19:1 – 20:26
Focus: You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now if you will obey Me and keep My covenant, you will be My own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to Me. Exodus 19: 4b – 5
Let me preface this devotional with the following – I firmly believe that God loves everyone. Regardless of whether someone is the most devout church-goer or the most despicable sinner, God loves that person more than we can ever fathom. Paul confirms this when he tells us in Romans 5:8: “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” I believe Paul when he tells us that God PROVES His love for us even when we are steeped in sin. Even at our worst (maybe specifically because we are at our worst), Jesus Christ suffered and died for us for the sole purpose of saving us. In the Alpha course Nicky Gumble says something that has always resonated with me – even if you were the ONLY person on earth, Jesus still would have gone to the cross, suffered, and died for YOU. That’s a humbling and powerful thought.
With that being said, the Bible is also clear in another principle – God demands obedience. He loves us regardless of whether or not we are obedient; however, we are told in multiple places in the Bible that while His love is unconditional, His blessings are contingent upon our belief and obedience. Some see these conditions as being Old Testament only; however, that isn’t so. We are told in John 9:3 “We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.” The Apostle John also writes in 1 John 1:6: ‘If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.’ Those two verses were written by one of Jesus’ closest friends, someone who knew Jesus and His teachings as well as anyone did (John referred to himself as the “Disciple whom Jesus loved multiple times, so it’s safe to say they were tight). Paul writes in 2 Corinthians “Do not be mismatched with unbelievers. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?”
So where does that leave us? As much as I would like to wish otherwise, I am far from perfect in my obedience to God. I am not alone in this though. Paul tells us in Romans 3:2 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” John also tells us in 1 John 1:8, 10: ‘If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.’ So the truth is, we are all sinners because we are all disobedient to God in some way.
But God doesn’t leave us in that helpless place. Instead, He offers the only hope for us. John writes in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 55:6-7:
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call to Him while He is near.
Let the wicked one abandon his way
and the sinful one his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord,
so He may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for He will freely forgive.
Paul writes of the true and lasting hope that God promises to all who believe in Jesus as our Lord and savior and repent from our sins – “So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)
We are called to seek God by humbling ourselves, repenting (turning away) from our sins, and obeying Him. When we do that, we are no longer sinners, but children of God and followers of Christ. Even then, we will still sin (as much as I wish it weren’t so), but if we continue to humbly confess and repent from those sins, our disobedience will be forgiven by God through our faith in Jesus as our Savior. As John writes in 1 John 3:22: “And we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him and do the things that please Him.”
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You have made a way for me to be in a right relationship with You through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I’m sorry that I disobey You. Holy Spirit, please reveal to me sin that I have that I haven’t confessed and turned away from; please show me where my thoughts, actions, desires or how anything else in me separates me from You. And please help me to turn away from whatever those things are. In Jesus’ name… Amen