A Glorious Confidence
A.W. Tozer, though probably not someone I would invite to a party, was a stunning theologian who wrote breathtaking books about God. The blistering insights in his magnum opus, The Knowledge of the Holy, are considered to be among his best. One line, in particular, made me stop and reach for my neck brace as the sheer weight of what he was saying added a solid three pounds to the weight of my already generously-sized head. He said that “…audacious faith dares to believe the Word and claim friendship with God. We do God more honor by believing what He has said about Himself and having the courage to come boldly to the throne of grace than by hiding in self-conscious humility among the trees of the garden.” (page 100).
The false, self-conscious humility that Tozer is speaking of is exactly the story of my faith. The main plague my spiritual life suffers is a fear of drawing near to God. While I do believe that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive them, I have a deep struggle in believing that God still views me with love and acceptance. Instead, I keep my distance because I feel unworthy, unloved, and unclean. I convolute my feelings into some sort of faux-spirituality that believes I honor God by feeling guilty about my sin. But that’s not faith.
If I were friends with C.S. Lewis, he would point out to me that, weirdly, it’s not a low view of myself that keeps me from God, but actually an abundance of pride. I am prideful enough to think that even though God has declared me clean, my feelings of dirtiness somehow surpass the all-supreme One’s mandates and hold sway. Pride is a particularly insidious sin because, in many cases, it masquerades as humility, as a type of penitence, when really all it amounts to is a faith in myself and in my ability to determine my standing with God.
Another root of my desire to stay far from God is a lack of belief in what He says. God, through Christ, declares me clean, loved, approved of, and tells me I am one of His saints. I’m not only forgiven, I’m totally clean and have been given a new self, new identity, and new life. He tells me in Scripture that He doesn’t just put up with me, but delights in me. He wants me to come to Him and worship Him and let Him hold me close for His glory and my joy. All these things are true for those in Christ. But I struggle to believe that, so I keep a searing, aching distance based on what I think, not on what God thinks.
Tozer’s message to me and to others like me is this: believe what God has said about you. Don’t pine and waste away in this vaguely religious, distant angst. Faith is not running from God; faith is running to God. Faith is believing what God says; believing that God has adopted us as children and His arms are open to us. God is glorified when I, overwhelmed by my sin and drowning in my incompetence in a darker place than I ever thought possible, come to Him anyway with confidence that He will receive me lovingly as the person He has declared me to be. To live by faith is to believe fully that my standing with God is not dependent on my sin. To act in faith means to approach the holy, righteous, awesome God convinced of my standing because, while I could never measure up, He has measured up for me.
Go confidently to God today. Don’t let your guilt or shame keep you from Him. Those feelings are rooted in a pride that would have you believe your feelings rather than believe what God has said about you. His word is final. He has given us new identities and has opened the pathway between Him and us, and there’s nothing we could ever do to close it.
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Danny Nathan grew up at Grace participating in the music and worship ministry. He’s currently a worship leader, leading people into worship in a variety of venues, including our modern worship service and student ministry gatherings. Danny is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in English. In June 2016, Danny married his high school sweetheart Alli.
Tags: Christian Life