Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord….For we…worship by the Spirit of God and [confidently boast] in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:1-2)
So many of us desire to be comfortable with who we are, with our own and others’ opinions of us; we want to be able to disregard negativity while receiving helpful criticism, and somehow never doubt our worth. We want to live free from guilt, not arrogant, but willing to try, to make mistakes, and learn to do better. We want to be free, joyful, and growing. We wish we were as confident as we pretend to be, and envy those who seem to possess such confidence.
More deeply, on a spiritual level, many of us long for a free and clear conscience before God: the ability to come before Him without wondering what He really thinks of us, to know that the air is clear between us and Him; we yearn to be free from guilt and enjoy His presence with reverence and confidence.
The second level is where all confidence truly starts and truly matters. We can have be secure in our own minds and before others, yet in the end, what God thinks is what determines our eternal destiny. Why, then, do we so often spend our time focusing on our self-image and how we look to other people while barely acknowledging–or seeking help for–the silent cry of our heart before God?
Perhaps the reason is, as it was for me, that we don’t even realize how much God truly offers us in our relationship with Him. I thought I was “coming boldly to the throne of grace” (see Hebrews 4:16) until I read a devotional written by a man who, as Philippians 3:1 says, “rejoice[d] in the Lord.” Morning after morning, he wrote his meditations on the various and marvelous aspects of our salvation, until finally I thought, “That’s enough! Yes, God’s salvation is wonderful, but I don’t deserve to bask in it that much. Tell me something I need to do, convict me of an area in which I need to grow. Once I’ve stopped sinning so much, I’ll be free to enjoy God’s salvation more.”
That thought stopped me in my tracks. It was something I had always felt, but had never put into words, so when I heard the words play in my mind, I realized how self-dependent my thinking was. I would never say out loud, “You can’t be sure of Christ until you’re good enough,” but that’s the way I had been thinking for years about my relationship with God. I reasoned that the measure of my sin was the measure of how much I couldn’t rejoice in the Lord.
Yet look at Philippians 3. I’m not invited to be glad in the Lord if I feel worthy–I’m commanded to rejoice with full confidence in Him and put absolutely no confidence in myself! God’s not waiting for me to be better; Jesus’s death on the cross fully paid, not only the price for my conversion, but the price for my daily victory over temptation and sin!
I can, right now, be glad in the Lord with a heart full of joy. I can, right now, place full confidence in His love and power. I can, right now, worship Him as I ought by His Holy Spirit Who is, right now, fully dwelling in my body (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Christian, you can have complete confidence! When you put your faith in Christ, God didn’t look the other way for a minute. He saw all your sin–past, present, and future–nailed to the cross and punished in the body of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:24); He saw the righteousness of Jesus Christ being laid on you (2 Corinthians 5:21); He saw His Holy Spirit come and fill your body with His life (Romans 8:9-11). That transaction is still in effect today! God is Your Father, and You can be sure that because of Christ, you are accepted (Ephesians 1:3-6).
So come, be confident, and draw near to Your God.