- Should a Christian Be Afraid of God?
- The Resurrection: A Matter of Reason or a Matter of Faith?
- Can We Learn from the Cults?
- Should We Be Waiting or Working As We Anticipate Christ's Return?
- Did Christ Come to Live or to Die for Us?
- Is Man Like God or Unlike God?
- Should a Christian Be Self-Controlled or Spirit-Controlled?
- Isn't the Holy Spirit All I Need to Understand the Bible?
- Can We Come to God Just As We Are?
- Is It Ever Right to Judge Others?
- Are We the Result of Our Parents' Choices?
- Does God Hold Us Responsible for Other People's Sin?
- Self-Esteem: Is It Right or Wrong?
Can We Come to God
Just As We Are?
A man who occasionally talks with a counselor at Radio Bible Class said that for a long time he wanted to become a Christian but hadn't accepted Christ because he just couldn't get his life cleaned up.
On the other hand, a gangster to whom Charles Colson makes reference in one of his books had the idea that the words of the hymn "Just As I Am" meant that he could accept the Lord Jesus and become a "Christian gangster." Both of these perspectives are widely held. But which one is right?
WE CAN COME TO GOD JUST AS WE ARE
- A tax collector, a member of an occupational group notorious for dishonesty, expressed sorrow for his sin when he went to the temple. He humbly prayed, "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13) and went home with God's approval.
- The thief on the cross had no chance to clean up his life. He simply acknowledged his need of forgiveness and said, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).
WE CAN'T COME TO GOD JUST AS WE ARE
- Jesus told the rich young ruler, "Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Luke 18:22).
- The Pharisee who prayed in a proud and self-sufficient spirit left the house of God unjustified and unaccepted (Luke 18:14).
Yes, God does accept us just as we are when we come to Him in true humility and genuine sorrow for sin. But God doesn't accept us just as we are when we come to Him in pride and self-sufficiency.
Repentance is an essential element in true saving faith (see Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; Rev. 9:20,21; 16:9,11). The Greek term translated "repent" means "to change one's mind." A truly repentant person who changes his mind about his sinfulness in the presence of a holy God will be sorry about his sins, will desire forgiveness, and will want to be a better person. The tax collector undoubtedly went back to his task with a new determination to be honest. God invites us to come to Him just as we are, but He also expects us to become changed people after we have been forgiven and accepted. He doesn't want His children to be "Christian gangsters."
The person who wants to clean up his life before coming to Christ is putting the cart before the horse. He needs Christ first. As long as he tries to reform himself, he is revealing a disqualifying, proud, and self-sufficient spirit.