Our golden lab, Lottie, (and I assume most dogs are this way) has a certain, distinguishable walk when she is in trouble and a very different walk when she is not in trouble. She has a cowardly walk, and she has a confident walk. If she does something wrong and I yell at her, then she puts her tail between her legs and walks – almost crawls – in a hunched-over motion that communicates an overwhelming sense of fear and trepidation. When she knows all is well, though, her tail wags, and she has an energetic bounce to her step. There is a stark contrast between these two walks.
THE INITIAL APPROACH
When Lottie does slouch and cower in fear, she does so for good reason. She does so because she is in trouble, and she knows it. Rightly, she is fearful.
Similarly, when we turn to the Lord for the forgiveness of sins, we ought to come with a posture of shame and humility. We ought to fear His righteous judgment, which we all deserve. Unlike dogs, though, who likely do not feel bad for what they do wrong but more likely are fearful because they got caught, we need to recognize the tragedy of our sin and the resulting brokenness of our relationship with God.
Thus, our initial approach to the Lord our God should be one of shame and humility. While that posture, to some extent, should continue throughout our lives – regularly turning to the Lord in repentance and crying out to Him for forgiveness – there is indeed a difference in our posture when our hearts are changed by the Holy Spirit.
THE CONTINUED CONFIDENCE
When we surrender our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking Him to forgive us and restore us into a right relationship with God, our hearts are changed. We receive His promised Holy Spirit and the guilt and shame are taken away. Yes, we still must repent and turn to Him in humility every single day, but the condemnation is gone. For that reason, there is a difference in our continued posture before our holy God.
Yes, we are still sinners. Yes, we still deserve God’s judgment and wrath. Yet, our faith in Jesus Christ makes possible a confidence in our relationship with God because His sacrifice satisfies that deserved judgment, and His resurrection assures our eternal victory.
“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering” (Romans 8:1-3).
When our dog goes from a cowering posture to a confident posture, she does so because she knows all is right. She is no longer in trouble. She no longer fears my judgment and wrath. She is like a completely different dog. A fearful dog looks and behaves much different than a confident dog.
Like which dog are you?
Yes, we should always walk in humility and in the fear of the Lord. Yet, we can also walk in confident assurance because of Christ and through Christ. If we have turned to Him in repentance and faith, we can have a completely different posture than we had before.
“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time” (Hebrews 4:16).
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching through Hebrews 4:14-5:10 on how “Jesus Offers Better Forgiveness.” Only forgiveness found in and through Christ allows you to “approach the throne of grace with boldness.” Only His forgiveness is superior and enough to make you right with God, and only His forgiveness will enable you to walk with an energetic assurance that points people to Him.
Let us have humility and confidence because of who we are in Christ.