In September 2017 I was asked by my son-in-law, Moses Okotel, to speak at the Lighthouse Embassy Church in Namatala, Uganda, where he is the pastor. It is very rare that I do this in any Church, but I was so moved by the thoughts that came to me while preparing for it, that it is now this page on the website. I trust you will read it with an open mind, and pray that the Good God will speak to you through it.
Just before I was invited to speak, the worship time ended with the following song, sung over and over again with all the enthusiasm, energy and vigour of an African congregation:
Only You can do
What no man can do.
Unchangeable, by Joe Praise, is a much longer song than this, but it was a simplified version using only these words.
When Moses first asked me to speak, I went to sit under the mango tree in their compound, to think and pray about what topic I should address. Within two or three minutes, three of the dogs had come and were sitting alongside me. They liked to be near me. Some humans may not, but I usually get on well with dogs! I needed to go back to the house for something, and when I came back a couple of minutes later, they had gone. However, in very short time they were back again. Then one of the puppies jumped into my lap and snuggled down. I took a selfie:
It then felt that God was saying to me,
“That’s what I want people to do with me: I want them to like to be with me - to jump up into my lap.”
But how do we do that? We’ll come to it shortly.
What is Evil?
Some people make the challenge:
“If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Why did he create Satan? If He created everything, then He is responsible for it all - so He cannot be good!”
Evil is not a ‘thing’ in the same way that good is, though. This can perhaps be most easily explained by considering light and darkness. You can create light by shining a torch in a dark room, and the light will dispel the darkness; but you cannot create darkness in a light room by ‘projecting’ it from any kind of device. No one has ever been able to make a ‘darkness projector’. The only way you can produce darkness is by removing, or hiding, the light. In the same way, the only way you can produce evil is by hiding, or turning away, from goodness.
God is good. Everything He made was good, and at the end of the creation week He declared everything “Very good!”
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.
When He created Satan, he was a good, perfect angelic being who later became evil by turning away from the goodness of God. All the evil in the world is the result of people cooperating with Satan and turning away from God’s goodness. So God did not create evil, He created good. Evil only exists on our planet because we humans have chosen to do our own thing instead of accepting His goodness.
Who is good?
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and, calling him “Good master,” asked what he should do to enter eternal life. Jesus replied:
So He said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God..."
No one is good. Jesus is the truth, so if He said it, it must be true. No one is good. You are not good; I am not good; no human who has ever lived is, or has been, good. Only one is good, and that is God.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Since Jesus said this, was He also not good then? We must be careful here, because some people take the words of Jesus spoken while He was a man on earth, and use them to claim that Jesus is/was not God either before He became a man or after His resurrection. This verse is an example of these sayings. It is very easy to produce all sorts of wacky ideas by taking odd Bible verses out of context, and using them to create unscriptural theories. In this case, we must see what else the Bible says:
…Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5–7 (RSV)
Emphasis mine. Some Bible versions use a different second word for the phrase in bold font, but the original Greek is:
kenoo. Fom G2756; to make empty, that is, (figuratively) to abase, neutralize, falsify: - make (of none effect, of no reputation, void), be in vain. (Strong’s Greek Dictionary)
The above verse describes what took place when Jesus became a man. He had been Almighty God with all the characteristics of God up until the point He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit; but in that moment He emptied Himself of all that He had been in order to become man entirely.
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU DID NOT DESIRE, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME.
Hebrews 10:5 (Words in capital letters are quotes from the Old Testament)
So now, while in the depths of His being - His spirit, if you will - He was still God, He emptied Himself of all His omnipotence, His omniscience, every characteristic of God, and now had a human body, a human mind, a human will, human emotions and was fully human in every respect except one - He never sinned.
Therefore He no longer had goodness of His own, because only God is good and He had given up everything that made God, God. Did He become evil, then? No! Because the very moment He emptied Himself, He became dependant on God’s goodness and that filled Him. Jesus said:
Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?
From the moment of His conception and throughout His life, Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in Him. So whenever anyone saw Jesus, they saw goodness because the only one who is good was in and around Him.
…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Jesus went about doing good. How? Because He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power, and God was with Him. Jesus, in His humanity, was totally dependent on the Father and the Holy Spirit, and since He always did what He saw the Father doing and said what He heard the Father saying, everything He did and said was good.
Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
Then Jesus said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."
However, there came a moment when this was no longer the case:
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice… "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
This was what He had come for, but the night before it happened, the horror of what was about to take place was so great He cried out to the Father:
…"O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
For the first time in His existence, the Father left Him because God cannot stand sin - He is absolute goodness and it is utterly abhorrent to Him. He then placed on Jesus all of your sin and my sin, such that Jesus actually became sin itself:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Because God hates sin so much, it makes Him incredibly angry. So now, when He looked at Jesus on the cross, all He could see was sin, and He poured all His rage and anger on Jesus, who was not morally responsible for the sin that now filled Him (“He knew no sin”) but was taking the penalty for it.
There is an old hymn in which one verse says:
He died that we might be forgiven
He died to make us good
That we at last might go to heaven
Saved by His precious blood.
(“There is a green hill far away,” by Cecil Frances Alexander: April 1818 – 12 October 1895)
But if the only one who is good is God, how could He ‘make us good’? There is only one way - the same way Jesus was good while a man on earth - by being indwelt by the good God.
You may say,
“But there are many good people in the world. You don’t have to be a Christian to be good; and some people of other faiths or none have done far more good things than some Christians.”
People may do good things, but that does not make them good:
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
So if there is only one - God - who is good, how can people do good things? Paul, talking about everyone on earth, said:
for in Him we live and move and have our being…
God is everywhere. Like the air we breathe, He completely surrounds us. His essential nature of love and goodness is constantly all around us. Let me illustrate it this way:
If I walk into a dark room, I press the light switch and turn the light on; but it is not I who has created the light. I did not make the light bulb, or install the light fitting and wiring, or generate the electricity. So actually I did not turn the light on at all. I simply cooperated with those whose work together enabled the light to appear. In the same way, God is constantly surrounding everyone with His goodness, longing for them to open themselves up for Him to fill them.
…your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
This is true even for the most evil people in the world. God hates what they are doing, but longs for them to stop it and turn to Him. So when they do good things, it is not their goodness. They are simply cooperating with God’s goodness that surrounds them. Doing this does not make them good though, because:
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
How Can We Be Good?
If only God is good, then we can only be good by Him indwelling us. When Jesus was speaking to His disciples before His crucifixion, He said of the Holy Spirit:
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
The Holy Spirit was with them at that time, but soon He would be in them. God is with you right now, but that is not enough. He must be in you. However, we have two problems: past sin and present sinning.
No-one can change the past. It is done and nothing can undo it. The times when you and I have been selfish, impatient, lost our temper, mistreated someone, etc., they are a part of our history. We all have a conscience and all know when we have acted contrary to it. God created humans in his own image, and even though we have distorted that image by our sinning, there is enough resemblance left for us all to know without doubt that ‘good’ is good and desirable, while ‘bad’ is bad and undesirable.
No philosophy, and no religious belief, be it Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or anything else can change what you or I have done or make it undone. They may suggest how you should live now, but they cannot remove what you have already done. No matter how much good you do in the future, it still does not remove what happened in the past.
If I rob a bank, but then for 30 years spend my life in helping others and doing good, my good works would be no defence when I am caught and taken before a judge. He would say,
“You have committed a crime and you must now pay the penalty.”
At the end of your life, God will not put all your good deeds on one side of the scales and your bad ones on the other and if the good side is greater then allow you into heaven! Of course, this is assuming the good side ever could be greater, because one of the greatest sins is to ignore or turn away from God’s provision for us, which is what people who have not accepted Jesus into their life are doing continuously
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness… That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1, 4, 5, 9, 14
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
But on the cross, Jesus took our sin. The full penalty of that sin was poured out on Him. He died, was buried, but then rose up from the dead and reassumed all that He emptied out when He became a man. The prayer He prayed before His death was now answered:
And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
He took the penalty of our sin so we do not have to suffer it ourselves. In order for what He did to become effective in us, though, He must come to live within us. John said:
And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
1 John 5:11–12
My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,
… Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Just as Jesus needed to be in the Father and the Father in Him while on earth, so we need to be in Jesus and He in us. He said:
Abide in Me, and I in you.
It is a long study, but sometime look up all the Bible verses that talk about ‘in Jesus’, ‘in Him’, ‘in whom’, etc. It says a huge amount on this topic. Obviously we are not talking here about the physical body of Jesus entering our bodies: that would be silly! It is the Spirit of Jesus mingling with our spirit, and we become one spirit with Him:
But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 6:17
See also (there are very many scriptures saying this, so these are just a few sample ones):
But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
It is no good asking God to give you goodness, or salvation, or healing, or anything else, because He won’t give them to you! Instead, He gives you Jesus, and in Him is goodness, salvation, healing, and all good things. He longs for you to have these things, but they are only available in Jesus: you can get them no other way. How does this happen? It is so simple, many people miss it. You simply ask Him! He longs to come to you so much He paid the most terrible price in order to make it possible. You cannot change your past, but Jesus took all your past failures onto Himself so they could be removed. When He was buried, all your sins were buried with him. The Bible says:
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
This makes it possible for us to be in Him and He to be in us; but then how do we avoid the sin that comes to us so easily and is such a barrier to our relationship with Him? In fact, on a daily basis we have the same choice to make as Adam and Eve. They were told they could eat fruit from every tree they fancied, with one exception. There were two trees very different from the rest. One was the tree of life, which represents Jesus. The other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They could eat from the tree of life, but not from the other one.
“The distinction between all other moral good and evil was written in the heart of man; but this, which resulted from a positive law, was written upon this tree. And in the event it proved to give Adam an experimental knowledge of good by the loss of it, and of evil by the sense of it.” (John Wesley: The Complete Commentary On The Bible (Kindle Locations 1274-1276). Kindle Edition.
All went well until, coming to where these trees were, they turned their back on the tree of life and looked at the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It looked good to eat to them, and spurred on by Satan speaking through a serpent, they decided to follow their own desire and eat.
There was nothing magical about that fruit; it was the act of disobedience, which meant that where they had only previously known good, now they knew evil as well. Because God cannot stand sin, where previously His presence had been living within them, now He left.
There were also times when He took a physical form and walked with them; but since only God is good, He had to be present within them continually, even before they had sinned, for them to be good.
Only God is good, and now goodness had gone they were left with nothing but the consequences of their sin - evil. God had left them, and they knew they were naked! Thus when God called for them, asking where they were, they hid themselves.
Now for us, every day, we have the same choice. Jesus did not give us a list of rules or commands; He just gave one:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
Well, He actually mentioned two commandments, but said the second was like the first:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
God says the way you treat other people is the way you are treating Him.
for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'
"Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
Do you love your neighbour as yourself? Do I? This means, whoever I have dealings with, I should treat them the way I would like to be treated. Jesus said:
So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Therefore if I am doing this I will not lie to them, cheat them, or hurt them in any way. Rather I will try to do good to and for them as best I can. So if the girl at the cash desk gives me too much change, I will give the excess back to her. If I see someone struggling with something and it is in my power to help, then I will help. If I find something someone else has lost, I will return it to them if at all possible. And so on. I really do not need to spell this out, because we all know how we would like to be treated by others.
Every such encounter is a choice between trees: shall I do what appears advantageous to me and turn to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or shall I do what is right and turn to the tree of life (Jesus)? If I am going to do good to someone, I need the only one who is good to give me the power to do it: that is what He lives within me to do! However, doing what appears to be right is not necessarily fulfilling the criteria. Jesus said:
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
There are those who will appear to us to be good people and/or fine Christians, doing wonderful things, but on the day of judgement Jesus will say He never knew them (verse 23 above)! He continued:
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
The man who built on sand didn’t bother spending money on digging down to rock for solid foundations, so he had money to build a grand mansion. The man who spent money on good foundations had to be satisfied with a lesser building. But when the storm came, the grand mansion was washed away and the owner was left with nothing, while the lesser building remained for its owner to continue to live there.
Whenever I visit Uganda I like to buy one or two newspapers to see what is happening from a Ugandan perspective. Every time, without fail, I see the same headline over and over again: corruption. Of course, this can be seen everywhere, not merely in Uganda. It may take more sophisticated forms in some other countries, but it is just as prevalent, because human nature is the same the world over. People taking advantage of the position they hold in order to take what is not theirs.
This can be true in every area of life, be it political on a national or local level, social within our personal network of friends and acquaintances, or religious within whatever faith community a person involves. It mostly means they will get money that otherwise would or should not be theirs, or misuse/ exploit power. It is building on sand, because while they may be able to make great strides and advance themselves in these areas during this life, when the storm comes, which is the end of their life, and come it will, it will all be washed away and they will be left with nothing.
Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lives he blesses himself (for men will praise you when you do well for yourself), he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to look inside the vehicle in the picture at the top of this page. I couldn’t have a ride in it because it would have been too expensive, but the driver kindly allowed me to step inside briefly. There were TV screens, music and flashing lights, bottles of champagne, whatever you wanted, it was there!
Imagine, if you really, really, REALLY, wanted a ride in this limo, and the driver said he would take you for a one-hour drive, but it would cost you absolutely everything you have now and everything that ever comes to you in the future. All your money, all your possessions, your home, your clothes, everything will be his.
This is a ridiculous scenario, but suppose you wanted the ride so badly you agreed. For one hour you enjoyed absolute luxury, eating and drinking all you wanted and taking advantage of all the amazing facilities the car offered. At the end of the ride, you get out of the car, give the driver everything you have, your money, your clothes, everything; and then stand at the side of the road watching the limo disappear into the distance, with nothing to enable you to survive for the rest of your life.
Well, I guess your life wouldn’t last long because it would be impossible to survive. It is a ridiculous example because no-one would be so stupid as to ruin their entire life for the sake of a single hour’s pleasure. Or would they?
This life is very short. I am presently 76 years of age, and although that age seemed an eternity away when I was a child or teenager, now as I look back, I wonder where all that time has gone. It has flown by so quickly I wonder how it could have disappeared the way it has. On the other hand, eternity is a very long time. It goes on forever.
Choosing to live life your own way - turning to the tree of knowledge of good and evil rather than the tree of life - is like building on sand because it will all disappear. It is like riding in that limo for an hour, because the length of time you will enjoy it is microscopic in comparison to the eternity that is to come.
How can you know which way is the correct way, though?
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
God has given us His word, the Bible - as an infallible guide to teach us how to live. There is a good article here, showing the reliability of the Old Testament; and here is a good overview for the authenticity of all 66 books of the Bible.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16–17
So, for example, we saw earlier that some people in prominent positions within the Christian church may not be all they superficially appear to be. Paul tells us their teachings are:
useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
1 Timothy 6:5–8
Seeking to use the things God has given to us freely as a means of making wealth or gaining power, is building on sand and riding the limo, because just as we brought nothing into the world when we were born, so we take nothing out when our life ends. Therefore we should be content with the Godliness that is brought to us by the good God when He comes to live within us. The result of living otherwise is:
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
1 Timothy 6:9–10
This is the reason I spend so much time every day in reading the Bible. The more I have read it, the more convinced I have become that it is genuinely and completely the word of God to us. Some parts of the Bible can be more difficult to read than others, though. For a very long time I have had several bookmarks positioned at different points in the Bible and read a bit from each every day. This means you don’t spend days on end struggling through passages that are hard to understand. If you are unused to Bible reading, I suggest a bookmark at the beginning of both the Old and the New Testaments, and another one half-way through each Testament, which will give variety to help through the sticky patches. And there are many Bible reading helps available from Christian bookshops and on the Internet.
I know I do not have the wisdom or knowledge to work things out for myself, and unless I am constantly reminded of what God has said by reading His word, I can easily forget or be misled by the many deceptions that fly around today.
And what has He said?
Only God is good.
He loves us and wants us to enjoy being with Him - to jump up into His lap.
The only way we can do that is by having the Spirit of Jesus within us.
How do we do this?
…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
In order for this to take place, it is necessary to accept you cannot change your past or remove your past sin that is the barrier to His presence in your life, and believe in Jesus as the only one who can and will do it. Saved from what, though?
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
Jesus took God’s wrath so we do not have to experience it. Now, I know that when I stand before God at the end of my life to give an account of myself, when He looks at me, all He will see is goodness. Not because of anything I have done because there is no goodness in me…
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells
…but because Jesus took away all my sin when He died on the cross. He cleansed me from the defiling nature of the sin that He removed by the blood He shed. So He lives in me and I live in Him. When God looks at me He will see Jesus and say,
“Enter into the joy of the Lord.”
His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' …His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'
Matthew 25:21, 23
For anyone without Jesus, there is nowhere to hide and God will see all your past sin, your weaknesses and your failures when He looks at you. He will say something like, “You chose to keep me out of the whole of your life, so now I will give you what you have said by your actions that you want.” There is only one place where God’s presence will not be, and that, in the Bible, is called ‘Hell’.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.'
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5
Since God is light, He cannot be present in ‘outer darkness’.
Only God is good, and all those in that place will be without God, and so without good. Never mind about fire and brimstone and all that stuff - the greatest torment I can imagine is being locked into an existence for eternity with only those who are totally devoid of good.
The choice is really a no-brainer! God, right now, pleads with you to choose to have Him enter into your life today, to give you His love, peace, and above all His goodness to experience for the whole of this present life; and then to spend eternity continuing to enjoy His fullness within you:
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Or you can choose to turn away from the tree of life to the other tree, choose to go your own way, do your own thing, build on sand, ride in the limo, and after rejecting the good God in this life, experience an eternity without Him.
There is absolutely nothing we can do to make ourselves right with God. No amount of penance, good works, selfless acts, or whatever can have any effect, because the problem is our own nature and we can no more change that than we can alter our own DNA. But we don’t have to do anything because Jesus has already done it for us! Paul tells us:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
It’s as easy as A, B, C:
We must accept that what God has told is is true: we have failed to be what He originally intended us to be, and our failure - our sin - will receive the penalty His nature demands.
Believe in Jesus Christ, that His perfect sacrifice for us was sufficient to take the penalty we deserved, leaving no further consequences for us to have.
…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved
Confess (not to any human, but to God) by praying to Him.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8–9
This means simply speaking to Him, preferably while on your own so you can do it audibly - He hears every word you say - telling Him:
You have failed to live the way He wishes and have been ignoring Him.
You are sorry for this, and ask for His forgiveness on the basis that Jesus has paid the price in His death on the cross.
Ask Him to come into your life and lead you in the way He wants you to go.
Thank Him for providing the way and for fulfilling His promise in you.
The result of this is that you are changed: the Bible calls it being born again, because the old life is now over and a new one has begun.
Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
…having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God.
1 Peter 1:23
For some people, when they have done this they are immediately aware that they have changed - they feel different. For others, there is no instant difference and it may appear nothing has happened: however, over the next few days and weeks the reality of what has happened will begin to emerge. Whatever your experience, if you genuinely meant what you said in the above steps, one of the greatest differences is that God’s Holy Spirit has come to live in you.
… the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
…having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
This is vital, because we humans have no power to live the way God wishes us to do, but He doesn’t leave us to struggle to do the impossible on our own. Far from it, He comes alongside us, indeed, within us, to give us the desire to follow Him and the power to do it.
Then go to a local church and join with others who have taken these steps, who will encourage you in living your new life.
While I was in Uganda, Jerry, the older dog, was always the first to find me under the mango tree and sit by my seat. Rosie, the little, white-haired, lively one would constantly be jumping up behind me to lick my face before I knew she was there. Pip, who was most wary of me at first, would come up to me when he saw me, tail wagging, wanting to be stroked. The puppies, like Timmy in the photo, would run up and jump into my lap.
Whether you have just become a Christian or have been one for many decades, how can you and I do that with God? We can read daily the love letter (the Bible) He has given to us. We can talk to Him frequently each day. Above all, for the rest of our lives, let us, on a daily basis, love those we meet as we love ourselves, and so constantly turn away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and turn toward the tree of life - Jesus - the good God who lives within us to give us the power to be pleasing to Him, to others and to ourselves.
By turning to Jesus in this way, moment by moment, we are showing we like to be with Him and are jumping into the lap of our Good God.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.
But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.
For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. Psalm 1:1–6 (NLT)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations labelled RSV are taken from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council
of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations labelled NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation,copyright © 1996, 2004.
Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream,, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.