One common mistake a lot of people make when attempting to come to God is they try to first “clean up their act.” Huge mistake! You will never be able to clean up your act without God’s intervention in your life. If you wait to come to God until after you have cleaned up your act you may never come to God. It’s not your power that makes you a Christian. It’s only by the power of God and the Holy Spirit that will lead you to a victorious Christian life.
I made that mistake when I was in my early twenties. I accepted Jesus and I started going to church. One day after church I stepped outside and lit up a cigarette. As I did this the pastor came out and read me the riot act. I decided I wouldn’t go back to church until I quit smoking cigarettes. Twenty five years later I quit smoking. I also found out twenty five years later that many famous Christian leaders smoked cigars and pipes.
God says come as you are. When you become a Christian God will change your perspective. You will start to see things differently. What used to be important to you suddenly becomes not so important. You will be amazed at some of the new things you will start to see and of course your family and friends will think you are crazy.
You will need the power of God to change anything that God wants you to change. When it’s time for a change in your life God will give you first the desire and then the power to change yourself. We see this in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
The Old Testament had many events that pertain to today. One example that Jesus uses is when the Israelites were traveling through the desert just coming off a victory with the Canaanites they started speaking against God and Moses. We read this in Numbers 21:4-5, “Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.”
Because the people spoke against God and Moses, God sent fiery serpents into the people that were biting them and causing a lot of the people to die. The people then came to Moses and asked Moses if he would pray for them which Moses did.
God then told Moses to construct a bronze serpent and set it on a pole and everybody who had been bitten if they will look at it will live. We can read this in Numbers 21:9, “So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” Jesus talked about this event and compared Himself with the serpent that Moses lifted up in the desert. We read this in John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Please don’t let anyone tell you that you have to work your way to heaven. Jesus used this story to show you that all you need to do is believe in Jesus. Believe Jesus is who He says He is. Not “exercise your faith”, not knock on twenty doors a week, if anyone says you have to believe and…….whatever comes after and is a lie.
Jesus was asked this very question in John 6:28-29, “Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Notice how the people were looking for a list of things to do to work their way into heaven. Now look at the answer Jesus gave, “Jesus answered and said to them, this is the work of God that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
I have found over the years what works best for me is when I read my Bible I will write down the verses that mean a lot to me and then memorize them. Here are some of the verses that have really helped me over the years. The first verse is found in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
When I was new to the faith back in the early seventies a friend told me “we believe not by feelings but by faith.” This one sentence has helped me numerous times live a steady Christian life. Some days I will feel a strong presence of God and other days I don’t. When I don’t feel the presence of God my tendency is to believe I am not good enough. That’s when I tell myself “I believe by faith and not by feelings.
Another one of my favorite verses is found in Colossians 3:1-4, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”I like the fact that my life is hidden in Christ.
The Bible tells us that we get to heaven through Jesus Christ’s righteousness and not our own righteousness. The Bible says that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Just this fact alone should tell us that trying to work our way into heaven is a waste of time. It is only by Gods grace (His free gift to humanity) that we are able to make it to heaven. Remember, the road to becoming a perfected child of God is a process that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just wave a wand and puff! You’re changed. God will give you the power to get rid of anything that is keeping you at a distance from Him one step at a time.
When I was young I drank alcohol, took drugs, smoked cigarettes, was self centered and generally was not the kind of guy you would want your daughter to date. God removed all that from my like one step at a time. However I am still a sinner and as long as I am in this human body I will remain a sinner. We all will! I am not as bad as I was, I am also not as good as I want to be and even the best of us are all in the same boat. My point is do not get discouraged because you are not perfect.
Please don’t confuse your salvation which is immediate to becoming a perfected child of God which is a process that takes a lifetime.
Almost at the end of the Book of Revelation Jesus gave an invitation to everybody who desires to “come”. Notice as you read this invitation that there are no requirements to coming to God. The only requirement is to come. We read this in Revelation 22:1, “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires let him take the water of life freely.”It is a free gift! Do not be afraid to take the offer that Jesus is making to all of us.
This really is a very good deal. We trade in our sinful nature for the nature of Jesus Christ and eternal life.