I received an email today that’s subject line was “You disgust me Kevin – I know the truth.” It appropriately went to my SPAM folder, but I read it because it piqued my curiosity.
The email went on to say things like, “I saw the truth about you,” “Everyone knows what you did,” “Its (sic) shameful you lied about this for so many years,” and “These 7 awful things about you could ruin your life.”
Of course I didn’t click the links, but it got me thinking about a few things.
My first response to the email was, yeah, I disgust myself at times, too. I have thoughts, behaviors and attitudes that are contrary to the person who I want to be. I’ve done things in the past, I’ve said things in the past, and I’ve thought things in the past that are sinful and ugly. And I’m confident that I will repeat the cycle in the future. That’s because I am a sinful person who naturally is going to do things contrary to the way things ought to be done. That’s part of my sinful nature. The Bible tells us that “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Romans 3:23 (NLT)
No matter who we are, we have all sinned. We have all fallen short of the standard of perfection found in Jesus. As a believer in Jesus, I have to acknowledge my sin, confess (agree with God that it is sin) and repent (turn from my sin). I do this through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.
My second response to the email was, yeah, but I’m forgiven. As the next few verses in Romans say, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was sufficient and covered my sins – past, present and future.
Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. – Romans 3:24–25 (NLT)
This verse tells us that though we are sinners, though we are sinful, Jesus covered our sin with his blood. I am a sinful person, but I am forgiven and blessed with eternal life because I have accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation. Through his blood, I am covered and will stand as righteous on judgment day. This is called grace – something given to me that I can’t earn on my own – something that I don’t deserve.
And that got me to the third response. I thought, Satan is a jerk.
Though I believe what I wrote about being forgiven, and I believe that Jesus accepts me for who I am, I still hear the voice of the enemy telling me lies like, “God is disgusted by you,” “If people really knew you, they would hate you and be disgusted by you,” and “You are an embarrassment to God.” Those thoughts pop into my head at random times, and I know they are not from God. I know in my mind and in my heart that God loves me and has called me to be a pastor, yet those lies of deceit and doubt are whispered in my ear, and if I’m not careful, they will pull me down.
The enemy of God loves nothing more than to pull God’s children down; to make them question their standing with God; to make them doubt their own worth and salvation. When those doubts and self-disparaging thoughts arise, I have to remember who I am. I am a child of God. He has called me, loved me, and saved me. Nothing will change his love for me. Nothing I do will make him love me more or less. It’s a perfect love; a love like no other; an unconditional love.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? – Romans 8:31–35 (NLT)
I know that I’m not alone in these feelings of despair. I want to encourage you that you’re not alone either! The enemy knows us well, and he knows how to cut us to the quick. When those deceitful voices come creeping in, remember that you’re a child of the King and that he loves you unconditionally. “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?” NO!