A Healthy Dose of Fear
It seems we just started our series in the Sermon on the Mount, and now we have reached its conclusion. In Matthew 7:15-27 Jesus concluded His sermon with what might be called three warnings, or three doses of healthy fear. Healthy fear is a good thing, intended to cause us to consider. That's exactly what Jesus wants us to do at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount. He calls us to "beware" of false teachers, to "beware" of false professions of faith where someone's life does not resemble their profession of devotion to Jesus, and finally, to "beware" of the kind of foundation we build our lives upon. These warnings and exhortations call for discernment, and Jesus is so eager to provide us with the wisdom we need to rightly discern.
There are unhealthy fears, though. It would not be right for someone who is truly born again to be struggling with doubts over their salvation. Jesus wants His followers to have assurance. In fact, 1 John is essentially all about assurance of faith! Sometimes our struggle with sin can cause us to wonder. We may wonder things like, "If I am saved then why am I still struggling with the same sins?" The answer to that question is far more involved than this blog post, but can I "assure" you friend, that the very fact that your sin grieves you and you desire to change is evidence that the Holy Spirit is in you! We must not confuse our struggle with sin or our slowness in growing with our status in Christ! We were saved by grace alone, and we go forward in our salvation everyday by grace alone! The person who says "Lord, Lord" but who does not truly know Jesus is the person that continues to live and think and act like the world. They make "lawlessness" their practice. They may pay lip service to Jesus, but He knows their heart. That is not the same thing as a true child of God who still stumbles but who also truly grieves with a godly sorrow for sin, and they run to Jesus to receive mercy and grace. So, while we should have a healthy fear of professing something that our life doesn’t reflect, we should also have a healthy peace that comes from God in believing. Your performance never was, and never will be the basis of God's acceptance!
As you reflect today on the grace of God upon your life, that is keeping you this very moment, remember John Newton's words:
"If I ever reach Heaven I expect to find three wonders there: first, to meet some I had not thought to see there; second, to miss some I had thought to meet there, and third, the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there."
God bless your week!