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God loves people very much. He cannot love us any more than he already does, and he refuses to love us any less. God loves us unconditionally. That means no matter what we have done, or failed to do, God does not stop loving us. We do not have to clean up our lives before God will accept us. God’s love for us does not depend on our performance.
God loves us, but we need to understand that even though God loves us, he cannot ignore everything we do wrong. There are terrible consequences when we live our lives apart from the Lord and we ignore his words. The Bible teaches clearly that sinners will be judged. When we are found guilty we are separated from God for all eternity. One day each of us will stand before God and we will be held accountable for everything that we have done throughout our lives.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18) Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The narrow way that Jesus spoke of begins when we understand that each of us has a sin problem. Sins are the things we do wrong. “If we claim we have not sinned we make God out to be a liar because he says we have sinned. If we think we are without sin, we are deceived.” (1 John 1:8-10) The Bible says that there are none who are righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)
“As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live!” (Ezekiel 33:11a)
Because God loves us, he sent his Son to suffer and die so that we would not have to. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, willingly became a man and died on the cross in our place. He gave his life and shed his blood to cover our sins and to set us free from death and hell. Jesus paid our ransom so that we would not have to spend eternity separated from God. Justice demanded that blood be shed for all the sins and crimes of the human race, so Jesus took the punishment that we deserve for our sins by dying on the cross for us. God’s full anger toward sin was poured out on Jesus when he was nailed to a cross. It broke God’s heart to do this to his Son, but it was necessary so that this lost world could be saved. Jesus paid the full price and completely bore our penalty. There is no crime or sin so great that the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross cannot cover it. The Bible says that Jesus knew no sin, but he became sin for us, and at that moment his Father could not look upon him. The oneness that he had always known with his Father was broken in that moment, and Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And just a short time later he died, not so much from the physical suffering, but from the weight of our sin that had been placed upon him. Jesus bore it all and now justice is satisfied.
“God made him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. Death could not hold him. After Jesus died on the cross he took back what Satan had stolen from Adam and his descendants in the Garden of Eden. The one who had taken dominion of the earth away from Adam by causing him to sin in the Garden of Eden was defeated. The Bible says that Jesus now holds the keys of hell and of death. (Revelation 1:18) This means Jesus has been given all authority over this world and those in it because of what he has done for us. He conquered sin and death and hell and he offers new life and forgiveness to all. We can be free from the power of sin, and we can walk in newness of life.
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and makes disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Bible tells us that if we admit we are sinners, turn away from our sin, and ask Jesus to forgive us, then he will. He asks us to surrender our lives to him, follow his teachings, and make him Lord. When we do this, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).
“He bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live a life that is pleasing to God.” (1 Peter 2:24) “He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away and all things become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“The wages we receive for our sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all we have done wrong.” (1 John 1:9) “But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
It is important to remember that there is no other way to be saved. There are not many roads to heaven. There is only one. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father, but through me. (John 14:6) “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
“God loved the world so much that He sent his only Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “Jesus Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) “God saved us, not on the basis of our good deeds, but through his mercy, so that being justified by his grace we might inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)
It is important to understand that God is not impressed by religion. No one will earn a place in heaven by being good or being religious. No matter what we do, we cannot make ourselves good enough to go to heaven. “All our good deeds are like filthy rags in the eyes of God.” (Isaiah 64:6)
“We are saved by grace through faith, it is not something we have earned, it is the gift of God. It is not the result of our good works because God will not allow anyone to stand before him and boast about how good he is.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Jesus tells us a story of a poor sinful man who prayed, “God be merciful to me, I am a sinner.” God listened closely to this man and looked into his heart and saw that he was humble and genuinely sorry for his sins, and he was forgiven. There was another man nearby who was also praying. He was a religious man that looked down on other people who did not measure up to his standards. He was critical of the poor sinful man nearby. The religious man did not really believe he was a sinner. He compared himself to other people, and thought he was better than most. He believed he was one of God’s favorites, but he was wrong. His heart was proud and his faith was in the wrong place. He trusted in himself and in his good deeds. Jesus tells us that God forgave the humble man who prayed because he was genuinely sorry for what he had done, and he understood his need to be forgiven, but the Lord ignored the proud religious man who judged others and was blind to the sinful condition of his own heart. (Luke 18:9-14)
The Lord loves you just as you are. You do not have to clean up your life or become religious before God will accept you. The Lord accepts you just as you are and will work with you to rebuild your life. Jesus Christ loves you deeply and he can help you. There is no sin so great or crime so horrible that God will not forgive us when we come to him with a heart of humility and repentance. We can be free from our sin and its consequences. Jesus can bring healing to us emotionally and bring purpose and meaning to our lives.
If it is your desire to know Jesus Christ in a personal way, and to embrace him as your Lord and Savior, you can do so right now through a simple prayer like this:
“Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe you died on the cross in my place to pay the penalty for my sins. Thank you for paying my ransom when you died on the cross for me. You purchased my salvation and you offer forgiveness to me freely. Thank you for your mercy and for loving me as I am. I turn away from my sins and I ask you to forgive me. Help me to do the things that are pleasing to you. I want to follow you all the days of my life. I invite you into my heart and I surrender my life to you. Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer, and you meant it with all your heart then the Bible promises that the Spirit of God now dwells within you. You have passed from death to life. It may take some time for your heart experience to reach your head where it can be processed and understood, but you will notice some immediate changes in your life. First, you will feel like a burden has been removed. Your sin has been taken away along with the penalty it brings. You are forgiven, and this immediately brings a sense of peace and the knowledge of being right with God. Second, any sense of emptiness in your heart and soul will disappear. This may be gradual or all at once, but Jesus fills the void in the human soul. Third, you will know in your heart that you will go to heaven. You don’t have to hope you will go to heaven. God’s Spirit in you assures you that heaven is yours when this life is over. Fourth, the words of the Bible will become alive to you. You will find that they are no longer mere words on paper, but you will sense the voice of God in your heart as you read it.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He will not be judged and condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jesus in John 14:27)
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
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