Clarksville, TN – True praise is a natural response from a heart that has been forgiven. Forgiveness is a necessary foundation for praise. It holds the key to our entire relationship with God.
No one knows our nature better than God who made us. He knows we are disobedient and that our disobedience separates us from Him. He longs for a restoration of our broken relationship, and since He knows He can’t depend on us to do anything right, He decided a long time ago to depend on Himself instead. Our disobedience deserves death, so God let His own Son die for us. Thus our debt is paid and God’s system of forgiveness has been set up.
“Forgiveness” means to give up the claim to compensation from an offender. We are the offenders. Based on what Jesus has done, God gives up all claims of repayment from us. He holds nothing against us. It sounds so simple, but it’s obvious that we don’t fully understand it. If we did, we would be overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with joy for the rest of our lives. Most of us undervalue God’s system of forgiveness..
The plan of redemption is designed to restore our relationship with God but it doesn’t work unless we accept it. One of the hardest things for us to admit is that we can’t do anything right. We do almost anything to keep from swallowing our pride and accepting what God has done for us. Part of the reason is that we have been taught from childhood to “do our share” and earn our way ourselves. We are proud to be self-made.
Pride in our own accomplishments separates us from God. We want to handle things on our own and we struggle along until our problems and pain become unbearable. Even then, we try to resist God’s solution and say “I’d be ashamed to come to God like a beggar. I’ll wait til I get myself out of this mess first.”
Some of us try halfhearted confessions. We say we are sorry, but our actions deny our words and we go right back to doing what we did before. What is lacking in that type of repentance is surrendering to God’s Will. Surrender means to give up oneself in the power of another. To do anything less in our relationship with God is only to kid ourselves. It probably means we aren’t really sorry for doing wrong, but only for getting caught.
True forgiveness that restores our relationship with God depends on our surrender to His will. We can’t have a close relationship with Him unless we surrender to Him completely.
Our rejection of His forgiveness may not seem so obvious. We may say we admit our wrongs and accept His forgiveness, but behave as if we are paying the penalty for our own sins. Many people in that category become Christian workers. They give their lives in service to God as pastors, Sunday school teachers, lay leaders, nuns, or priests, but they labor more out of a sense of duty than of love, and know little joy in serving Christ. All of us, at one time or another behave like that.
We may “look good” in the eyes of others as we play the martyr’s role, paying God what we feel we “owe” Him. But that isn’t what He wants from us. We are refusing to give Christ credit for canceling our debts. We are rejecting Him as our Savior, and it is pride, not humility, that motivates us.
David addressed himself to God, saying “For You don’t desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You don’t delight in burnt offerings… the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and a contrite heart these O God, You won’t despise.” (Psalms 51:16, 17 NKJV)
A tremendous load will roll off our back when we learn to accept God’s forgiveness completely. Our need for it shouldn’t be a source of despair, but of rejoicing. Only a heart that has been forgiven understands the love of God. The more we are forgiven the more we love Him and the more we are able to praise Him. Then we can sing like David, “What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What joys when sins are covered over! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record… So rejoice in Him, all those who are His, and shout for joy, all those who try to obey Him.” (Psalms 32:1, 2, 11 AMP)
About Created To Believe: The Power of Praise Through Practical Biblical Truths
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