“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
- Acts 26:15-18
“This verse is the greatest example of the true essence of the message of a disciple of Jesus Christ in all of the New Testament.
God’s first sovereign work of grace is summed up in the words, “…that they may receive forgiveness of sins….” When a person fails in his personal Christian life, it is usually because he has never received anything. The only sign that a person is saved is that he has received something from Jesus Christ. Our job as workers for God is to open people’s eyes so that they may turn themselves from darkness to light. But that is not salvation; it is conversion— only the effort of an awakened human being. I do not think it is too broad a statement to say that the majority of so-called Christians are like this. Their eyes are open, but they have received nothing. Conversion is not regeneration. This is a neglected fact in our preaching today. When a person is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People may make vows and promises, and may be determined to follow through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, namely, forgiveness of sins.
This is followed by God’s second mighty work of grace: “…an inheritance among those who are sanctified….” In sanctification, the one who has been born again deliberately gives up his right to himself to Jesus Christ, and identifies himself entirely with God’s ministry to others.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
The words Chambers uses may not be the same words as those used today, but there is a big difference between realizing that we have sin and needing a Savior and actually receiving Jesus into our hearts and becoming saved. For me, I was convicted of my sins for over a year, refusing to receive something that I intellectually thought I already had, not making the total commitment. Now that is a tough nut to crack, but God kept working on me. As a friend said, I finally chose God out of my free will. My reply was that I chose God because the alternative, at that point in my mind and mental state, would have been destruction. I easily dropped the free will at that point. Imagine living in a pool of self-pity over the conviction of your own sins for about fourteen months. It is maddening.
I had to realize that it was an all or nothing decision, a total commitment. As a pastor on television said recently, it costs nothing to be saved, for we have nothing to offer, but it costs everything in living the life Jesus wishes for us to live.
But when the Apostle Paul was sent out by Jesus, what was he sent to do? To open people’s eyes so that they might see their own sin. One concept of the world being in darkness is that God is Light and therefore when turning our back on God, we are in darkness. There is another way to look at it that in the darkness, we can hide our sin, or we think that we can. There are those who roam the streets at night to do all kinds of evil deeds, for there are less people out who can witness the deeds. Yet, God sees all. I do not know how many times I have slowed to the speed limit, failed to act out in frustration or anger, or failed to say a bad word to the wall in my room all alone. Each time, I realized God was looking over my shoulder. Yet, there are so many times that I have forgotten and did the bad deed anyway.
Chambers focused on the fact that seeing the sin is not enough. That is true, but in these days of a fear of saying the word “sin,” we need to fight against that fear. That is Satan trying to make us feel that we have done nothing bad wrong, so do not worry about it. We should not worry about it; we should lay that problem before God. If we have not accepted Him, we must invite Jesus into our hearts. But as we find sin that needs to be repented, we must lay that before God and rid ourselves of it.
But before any of this makes any sense, we must first see our sin.
See. Repent. And then keep our eyes on Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.