Monday, April 14, 2014

humble confidence

Having been confronted lately (many times) with the thoughts of living a life in the power of the Spirit, under the authority of God's sovereign grace, and doing all things for the glory of God, and the contrasting life of living in the strength of the flesh, trying to earn the favor and blessing of God, and seeking to allow God to share in my own glory... one verse keeps coming to mind... "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may received mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16

I remember spending a fair amount of time over the last year, wrestling with this particular verse. How the heck am I supposed to feel as though I can confidently approach the throne of God? I am, by nature, a very confident person (nearly to a fault), and I like to believe I carry myself with that confidence in my life, but to approach God in this same way? How does that mesh with the idea of being humble? Aren't I supposed to make myself humble in order to receive grace? But then, Hebrews tells me that I receive  grace when I confidently approach God. This rambling series of questions continues for awhile.

I don't know that I have fully reconciled the issue in my own heart, but I do know that the Bible does not contradict itself, and I know that God is not a God of confusion... so there must be a way in which confidently approaching the throne of grace can be seen as a humble task. So, how do we walk with humble confidence?

It must be done, and can ONLY be hoped to be done, by walking in the Spirit. Living a life that is in step with the Gospel of grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. I cannot begin to hope to approach the throne of God with confidence if I spin my wheels trying to earn His favor by performing works of the flesh. If I approach every task before me believing that I must complete them in a certain way, on a certain time line, and with a certain amount of determination, otherwise God will be disappointed in me, upset with me, or deem me unworthy, then how can I ever feel as though I have done enough, or done it well enough, to confidently approach God? At best, I can then approach God with an armload of my own accomplishments, and hold them up, boldly confident saying, "Look at what I have done for you!" In my experience, trying to impress God with your own righteousness does not end with the receiving of mercy, or the finding of grace. So, if trying harder, to work more fervently does grant me plenty of confidence, it still fails in granting me the humility needed to approach the throne of grace.
Instead, I must simply cling to the promises of God. If I am able to begin by humbly admitting that there is nothing within me that will grant me the righteousness necessary to approach God, and that I am fully dependent on the sovereign grace of God, and the redemptive blood of Christ for my salvation, that my hope is placed in nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness, then I can know that the dirty rags of my own, hard-earned righteousness are removed, and the spotless garments of Christ's righteousness is placed around me. Clothed in the royal dress of my God and my Savior, and clinging on to nothing else, I am then filled with a confidence of knowing that I did nothing of myself to earn this right standing, and the confidence of knowing that I must do nothing else to earn God's favor in my life. It is THAT confidence, which is found by first humbling oneself to the need of an all-sufficient Savior, and is rooted in His finished redeeming work, that allows me to then approach the throne of grace, to find not only that grace which surpasses all understanding, and the mercy that is so desperately needed, but also the power through which to walk along in this life by faith.

It is a humble confidence found only by living in the Spirit, and not by works... remembering that it is by grace we have been saved through faith, that it is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

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