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God loves me anyway

8th June 2018

Over recent weeks, I've been thinking about this verse:

Matthew 5v3
Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

As I said last time, Blessed are those who know they're sinners. Blessed are those who know they're not OK. Blessed are those who know they need forgiveness and healing. Blessed are those who cry out to God for mercy. Blessed are those who know that there's no way they can justify themselves or their actions. They're blessed because God is merciful to those who ask for mercy.

As Paul said:

Romans 3v21-28
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood...
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.

Blessed are the poor in spirit because they can be justified by faith in the redeeming blood of Jesus. Blessed are the poor in spirit because God freely gives them His own righteousness. Blessed are the poor in spirit because they can find peace, knowing that we can't justify ourselves, and that we don't need to. Blessed are the poor in spirit because they can be forgiven. Blessed are the poor in spirit because they don't need to be good in order to be loved.

But many, many Christians somehow forget that we are justified by faith. They lose all their joy and peace. They try again to justify themselves. They may even tell other Christians how marvellous they are - or they may sink into despair because they know they're not all that marvellous at all, really. They go back to trying to impress God. They can also fall into the trap of criticising other Christians because they think they're not good enough for God. They've forgotten the Gospel of justification by faith and gone back the hopeless religion of justification by works.

Galatians 3v3
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?


Romans 5v8
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loves you. Jesus has paid the price for all your sin. You can't justify yourself, but you can accept the justification that Jesus has won for you. You're a sinner, but God loves you anyway.

Blessed are the poor in spirit because Christianity is not about us trying to be good so we can be accepted by God. It's about God accepting us even though we're sinners, and gradually making us good. Christianity is about our being reconciled to God not through anything we do, but by something He has already done - dying for us on the cross.

Luke 18v10-14
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people — robbers, evildoers, adulterers — or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Blessed are the poor in spirit because we're free from the need to impress God or anybody else. God loves us. God forgives us. God adopts us as His children. God puts His Holy Spirit in us. God guarantees us eternal life. God does all this because He loves us. He loves us even though He knows what we're like. He loves us anyway.

Blessed are those who are so poor in spirit that we've stopped trying to impress God, stopped trying to earn our salvation, stopped trying to look good. Blessed are those who accept the free gift of God' love and forgiveness.