Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Spiritual Amnesia

Leslie Basham: Elyse Fitzpatrick asks, “Do you know who you are in Christ?”

Elyse Fitzpatrick: Here’s the reality. We all—all of us—are suffering from spiritual amnesia. You don’t know who you are, and that’s because we think that God’s kingdom depends upon us.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, March 25.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Last week we wrapped up a series called, "How to Fall and Stay in Love with Jesus.” A listener wrote us during that series because she was struggling to believe that God really loved her.

She said, “I’ve been a Christian for over twenty years. I teach my children from the Bible daily. I pray. I really love the Lord. But I really struggle with His love for me. My question is, does God really love me? I seem to be doing so little for Him.”

Maybe you can relate to some of her struggles. Do you ever feel as if you have to perform to earn God’s favor? I think that’s a common frustration for a lot of women that I talk to. Well, my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick is going to address these questions in a message we’ll hear today. She first delivered this message last fall at the True Woman ’12 conference.

Elyse is a biblical counselor, and she’s the author of several books including a terrific one called Because He Loves Me. I think you’ll come away from this message with a new sense of wonder at how much God loves you.

Now, let me explain one thing as we get started. Earlier in this message, Elyse had given a definition of justification. That’s a big theological term, and we usually think of that term as meaning “just as if I had never sinned.” But Elyse reminded us that justification also means, “Just as if I had always obeyed the Word of God.” Keep that in mind as we listen.

Elyse: Second Peter 1, verses 5 and 10, and we’re going to go and read that whole passage in a bit. But let’s just start here.

“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith” and you all know how that passage goes, with virtue and knowledge and self-contro, on and on the list. And so make every effort to supplement your faith with all those things. “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

Now, I will tell you that as a biblical counselor, as someone who has used the Scripture in my own life and in the lives of others for many years, when I would come to the part of that passage where it says that he was cleansed from his former sins, that was like white noise to me. I had no idea of what that phrase was doing in that passage about the list I was supposed to make. So I’m going to unpack that for you right now. And we’re going to progress through that.

My suspicion is that we are all suffering from a form of spiritual amnesia. We think that our life, our acceptance before God, His pleasure in us depends on something within us. Let me tell you the really good news. Here’s the good news. Are you ready for some good news? The good news is your relationship with God the Father is forever secured by the love, forgiveness, perfect life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the God-Man. Forever. Forever. (applause)

What I want to do for you now is to give you some wind for your sails. See, you can have the nicest sailboat that there is. It can be fitted out with every kind of good navigational gizmo. But you’ll be stuck in the water trying to get from point A to point B if you don’t have wind for your sails. Right? What I have for you today is not a map of how to get from point A to point B. I’m not going to give you a map. I’m going to give you wind for your sails.

Now, the problem is that most of us think that we already know this message. I was doing a video interview a couple of hours ago and the interviewer asked me, “How many people do you think really understand the gospel?” Well, if I said to you, “What’s the gospel?” What would you say? You would say, well something like “Jesus Christ died for my sins.” Right?

I’m telling you that the truth you need, not just at the beginning of your Christianity, not just at the beginning when you first come into the faith, but the truth you need every day to have wind for your sails so that you can do all the things that you’re being told to do here, so you can do all of that, what you need is wind for your sails.

Have you forgotten that you’ve been cleansed from your sins? Have you forgotten that before God in His sight you are (if you believe, if you believe this truth) completely justified in His sight? Do you know what the word justification means? Yesterday, we had some fun at the preconference. So you ladies who were with me yesterday when we talked about justification, you’re going to help me now.

Justification. How many of you all have heard the word justification? All right. Good. Almost all of you. Right? Wonderful. Justification is one of those theological words that we throw about from time to time but it’s sort of emptied of content. What justification means is not simply just as if I’d never sinned. Not just—just as if I’d never sinned.

You see, that passage we just glanced at, Peter’s saying “One of the reasons that you’re not growing is that you’ve forgotten that you’ve been forgiven.” You've forgotten you’ve been forgiven. How many times today did you forget that you’ve been forgiven? You carry with you a backpack full of bricks of all of the things you’re supposed to do to get the train on down the road and then all of the ways in which you failed to do that?

Can I just tell you if you believe the gospel message, the good news, if you believe it right now the word that is written over your life is “forgiven”? Is that good news? Okay. Forgiven. I’m not going to talk to you today about what you need to do. I’m going to talk about what He’s done for you.

Forgiven. You are forgiven. Think back to that sin, whatever that sin is, that you can’t believe you did. Well, first of all, you can’t believe you did it because you don’t really believe the gospel, because the gospel says you’re a lot worse than you think you are. So you think about that sin, that sin you did, that sin you always struggle with. When God looks at you, He has one word for you. Forgiven. Forgiven. Look at the person next to you and say, “I’m forgiven.” Look at the person next to you and say, “I’m forgiven.”

Now some of you are starting to smile. See, when you leave here today, what I want you to do is to be smiling because I’ve got no bricks for you. All I have are smiles. You are forgiven if you believe. You have to believe. If you believe, you are forgiven. We’re back to justification. Justification is not simply just as if I’d never sinned, it is also . . . oh, and this is going to make your little brain go “ppfffttt”. . . just as if I had always obeyed. Whoopee!

When God looks at you, He’s not saying, “Oh, there’s Sally. I wish she’d get her act together.” He’s not saying that. Do you know why? Because you have the righteousness of Christ. Jesus got His act together for you in your place. He lived thirty-three-and-a-half years perfectly, always loving His neighbor, always doing the things that are pleasing to His Father, always speaking the truth, never lusting, never being greedy, always laying down His life. He lived that entire life for you.

See, Jesus could have come down to earth as a grown man and just died for your sins. But He didn’t do that. He’s incarnate. He is born as a baby and He lives an entire life of righteousness. Do you know what He’s doing that whole time? The whole time He’s there in His home, being a carpenter, submitting to His parents, loving His brothers and sisters, building things in His hometown of Nazareth. Do you know what He’s doing all that time? Fulfilling God’s law in your place. Do you know why? Because you don’t do it.

You might be saying, “Oh yes I do, I fulfill God’s law.” Okay, so here we go. Two laws. What are they? Love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Have you ever done that? Don’t raise your hand. Have you ever done that? No. No. Not for a millisecond because just as soon as you think in your little heart, “Oh, I’m being really good now. I’m loving God.” You are done. (laughter)

So there He is. Think of this. He’s lived this perfect life, loved His father. His [earthly] father died fairly early on, at least sometime after the time when He was twelve, His father died. We never see him again. So He’s supporting. He’s the eldest brother. He’s the older brother. Wow. He’s supporting the family in the home as the incarnate God-Man, working in a mundane job for eighteen years. And His cousin, John, who’s kind of the crazy person in the family, John is then out at the Jordan. He’s baptizing people for repentance for sin. And where does Jesus go? Out to the Jordan to John to be baptized.

And John already knows. He knows who He is. He looks at Jesus, and he says, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” He looks at Jesus and he says that. And Jesus says, “I’m here to be baptized by you.”

And John says, “Oh, no. No, because this is a baptism for repentance for sin, and I’m not even worthy to mess with Your sandals. You don’t need baptism for repentance for sin.”

And Jesus says, “Permit it to be so now because I must fulfill all righteousness.” Here’s the good news. He was being baptized in your place. He had to be baptized because you need His righteousness in your baptism.

I have grandchildren, and I have the microphone, so I get to talk about them. (laughter) My two eldest grandchildren who are very soon going to be fourteen and twelve, about a year or so ago they wanted to be baptized. I don’t want to get into a discussion about baptism, but they wanted to be baptized. We live in southern California. So they go to the ocean to be baptized by their pastor.

But the eldest of the two who is in every way the elder brother, we asked him one day, “Honey, in the story of the elder brother and the prodigal, who are you?”

He said, “I’m the elder brother, and I’m proud of it.” So, he gets it. So he’s always nervous that he’s not doing stuff quite right. He’s got one of those hearts. Do you know what I mean by that? It’s like I want to be obedient, but it’s never quite good enough? He’s one of those.

So he was in talking to his pastor before he got baptized because the pastor had said, “I’m going to interview you a little bit before we actually baptize you.” So Wesley, “What if I say the wrong thing?” And his pastor, in wisdom, said to him, and this is such good news, “Honey, Jesus was baptized in your place. Even if you said the wrong thing it’s okay.”

That’s good news. You see, because as serious women—and you wouldn’t be here at this conference if you weren’t a serious woman—you need to know that in all the ways you’ve failed and in all of the ways you’ve succeeded and were proud about it, Jesus has been righteous in your place. Is that good news?

See, the pressure to perform is off. I mean, do you feel like you just want to go, “Whew!”? I mean, we carry this backpack full of bricks of all of the things we’re supposed to be doing to move the bus of God’s Kingdom down the road. Now, that’s not to say God doesn’t use means. Yes, of course He does. But frequently, the means He uses are not the means you’re going to figure that He’ll use.

For example, God wanted to move the bus down the road so that He could demonstrate His power in the land of Egypt. So He used the sin of Joseph’s brothers. Right? He uses the sin of Joseph’s brothers to accomplish His goal of delivering His people from Egypt. Now, let’s be very clear. I am not saying to you, “Okay. So let’s all go sin.” I’m not saying that.

What I’m saying is, “You do sin because you don’t love God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you don’t love your neighbor as yourself.” And so if God could only use people who had their act together, He couldn’t use anybody.

Sometimes, not always, but sometimes God uses even your sin for His glory just like He used the brothers of Joseph. So Joseph says to his brothers, “You meant it for evil.” See, did they sin? Yes. Were they responsible for their sin? Yes. Did God use their sin? Yes. “You meant it for evil. God meant it for good.”

Think about Calvary. The very worst sin that was ever committed on this planet was committed according to God’s foreordained plan. Isn’t that what Acts says, like Acts 4? According to God’s foreordained plan. Now, again, I want to come back because I don’t want anybody to misunderstand me and come to me and say, “Elyse, do you care if we sin?” I’m not giving you a license to sin. I’m saying that you do sin. God will use your righteousness—your faith acts—He will use that. He will also use your sin to accomplish His glory. Is that good news? See, that’s good news—not, not depending on your obedience. May God be praised forever.

I was not raised in a Christian home. How many of you were not raised in a Christian home? Raise your hand. I want you all to look around and see how many hands are up. Keep your hands up. Does God need you to be a good parent in order to save your children? Answer me. [Audience answers: No] Is that good news? I mean, isn’t that good news?

Okay, now am I saying to you, “So, be a really crummy parent because.” Is that what I’m saying? I’m saying, “No. Seek to be obedient.” But God will accomplish His will whether you do well or not.

I grew up in an unbelieving home. God used the sin of my father and my mother to draw me to Himself. I’ll tell you what. That’s frequently how He works. You’re justified, which means just as if I had never sinned. Think back to the last time you yelled at your children. Never sinned. Perfectly forgiven. Just as if I had always obeyed. That’s your record.

Now, in light of that, do what God calls you to do. And in all the ways you failed to do what God calls you to do, take yourself right back there again over and over and over again. Take yourself back there. Take yourself back there.

I write books about the gospel. I’ll be in a situation, and I’ll say, “I’ve got no clue what the gospel has to do with this.” We wrote a book called, Give Them Grace, which is how to give the gospel to children. I’ll be with my grandchildren. They’ll do something, and I’ll think, “I ought to say something about Jesus here.” What I want to do is say, “Go get in the car you little moron.” But I don’t say that.

Now, you guys are laughing because you’ve never said that, but in your heart you’ve said that a thousand times. So I say, “Sweetheart, I know I should say something about Jesus here. I just don’t know what it is. So go get in the car. And if I think of something, I’ll say it.” (laughter)

See, here’s the reality. All of us are suffering from spiritual amnesia. You don’t know who you are. And that’s because we think that God’s kingdom depends upon us.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to a message from my friend, Elyse Fitzpatrick. We need to break in part way through this message but we’ll hear part two tomorrow. I think the question, “Does God really love me?” haunts so many women today. We all need to be reminded of the power of the gospel to set us free from condemnation.

Elyse writes about the freedom that you can have because of the gospel of Jesus Christ in her terrific book called, Because He Loves Me. It’s a great reminder for all of us. I especially hope that you’ll get a copy if you’ve ever struggled with doubts about God’s love or if you know somebody else who does.

We’d like to send you a copy of Because He Loves Me when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. You can make a donation by visiting us online at ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can give us a call at 1-800-569-5959.

Now, I want to let you know about an opportunity to join Elyse Fitzpatrick and me at Revive ’13. That’s a conference Revive Our Hearts is hosting for women helping women. We’ll also be joined by author and speaker Paul David Tripp. This is a conference for women’s ministry leaders. If you’re involved in helping other women in some way, I hope you’ll be there.

This conference will be helpful for pastors' wives, small group leaders, counselors. If you’re investing in other women, we want to have this chance to invest in you. Revive ’13 is coming to the Chicago area—Schaumburg, Illinois, September 20–21. You get a discount if you register by May 1. I hope you’ll come and get refreshed and get equipped to invest in other women’s lives. For all the details visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now you’ve probably heard the phrase “WWJD—What Would Jesus Do?” Well, Elyse Fitzpatrick suggests a new phrase “WDJD.” Find out what she means when we hear part two of the message “Because He Loves Me.” Please join us tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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