Exhortation

“With what disgust, contempt, and hatred Christ must look upon every second of our lives, the reviewing of which must be a long torture for us, were such a judgment in our future!”

These are the words of a Presbyterian minister, writing in a prominent evangelical magazine. He’s trying to refute the belief that we’ll be judged according to works at the last day. He’s wrong on that point. Paul says clearly and repeatedly that everyone will be judged according to his works. But that’s not my main interest this morning. My interest is the attitude this writer attributes to Jesus.

Do you think Jesus is filled with “disgust, contempt, and hatred . . . every second of our lives”? Many Christians do, and there are others who want to reinforce that view. Job’s friends did. They posed as “comforters” but they were really little “satans,” accusers more interested in convicting than comforting.

Job’s response is not meekly to turn over and take it. His response is not, “Well, you’ve got a point there. I admit I’m totally depraved.” His response is to deny their accusations and defend himself. That should be our response too. But how? We know how sinful we are, how often we fail and fall. How can we defend ourselves with the same confidence as Job?

The answer will come in a few moments, as it comes every week in the liturgy. As we enter the Lord’s presence, we first need to be cleansed by confessing our sins. When we’ve confessed, the Father tells us how he regards us, and He doesn’t express disgust, contempt, or hatred. What He expresses is free and absolute forgiveness, love, favor, brotherly kindness, mercy. Because you are in the Son, “He forgives you all your sins.”

When the accusations come, don’t grovel and don’t let yourself be manipulated. Instead: Remember the words of absolution and realize that even more than Job you have grounds to protest your innocence. Remember the declaration of forgiveness, and believe that in Christ your sins are completely, utterly gone. Remember that you have been cleansed, silence the satans, and know that Jesus Christ by His Spirit is the true Comforter.

The next time some sophisticated theological accuser, some Confessional satan, wants to convict you of sin, you’ve got a choice: Believe the accuser, or believe God.

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