Series 1 – Addendum
How can we emotionally deal with the impact of “never being good enough” in God’s eyes?
(If you missed them, here are the other parts to this Series)
As I was writing this first Series, I got to the end and realized I had missed something; something important. To mature Christians, the doctrine of Total Depravity is a core belief, so when writing about it, it is easy to skip over its implications to someone who doesn’t believe the Gospel or is on the fence about believing.
I overheard a conversation that said “It’s hard for me to believe [Jesus & the Gospel]. I just don’t believe that everyone is evil, we’re never good enough, and God thinks of us that way.”
For some, it is a struggle to deal with these two realities: Total Depravity and a good outlook on life. One says that we’re all dirty, rotten sinners that need to go to Hell (it doesn’t really say that) and the other says that the world is mostly a good place and to look at the good in people and not the bad. This can be a breaking point for many people “on the fence”, and especially for those who struggle with low self-esteem already. What’s worse than yourself thinking you are a horrible person? -> God thinking you are a horrible person. I can attest, I used to suffer from anxiety, sadness, and depression – I’ve been there, maybe not in the circumstances or severity that others have experienced, but I know where you are coming from.
How can we reconcile these two things?
- Recognize that the Truth hurts. All of humanity is totally depraved, that is a fact and cannot be changed. It is at the core of Christianity. If we were not totally depraved, we wouldn’t need a Jesus to save us from sin because we’d already be on the path of “being good enough” for God. Unfortunately, things would be much worse – we wouldn’t have a Savior, and we wouldn’t know who’s on “God’s team” and who’s not. It would be spiritual chaos for us, not knowing if we were good enough or if we’ve been naughty a few too many times before we died. The terms “sinner” and Total Depravity do not mean that everyone is evil and the world is thrown in chaos, and that good never happens or happens rarely. Humanity is also made into the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and we reflect God’s goodness to others on a daily basis. We do, however, also reflect sinfulness on a daily basis, it is in our nature (and by choice) to do things that “miss the mark” in terms of God’s Holiness or Goodness, or do outright bad things, or even evil things (Romans 3:23). Our world is also broken by sin and we have things like diseases, natural disasters, decay, and death. We live in a duality: we both have the image of God, a conscience to tell us right from wrong, (and for believers, the Holy Spirit to guide us) but we also have an earthly desire to rebel against God and damage relationships with others. Humans are not evil nor good but have the capability to do both, with the intrinsic drive to rebel against God winning out most, if not all of the time.
- Know that Jesus fixed it, and rest in His joyous, saving grace!
One of the hardest spiritual moments for me was wrestling with the notion that I was a sinner, I wasn’t good enough, and I could never be good enough for God. For years… YEARS… probably near a decade I had low spiritual self-esteem. I was always on this roller-coaster of “I did good” to which I was prideful or at least tried to be humble, but also “I constantly fail Him” to which I was devastated by my own sin, beating myself up directly after each instance. I lived with sadness, low self-esteem, regret, shame, embarrassment, anger at myself, anger at God, the feeling of wanting to do better but knowing that I can’t. On more than one occasion I had suicidal thoughts, but luckily God never let me do it. A healthy dose of fear knowing “God is real” and “Hell is real” was my only stopping power from going further, and while it was effective, looking back it was tragic viewing God’s love and grace in that light.
So what changed? My heart, in only a way that God can fix. I continued learning, praying, seeking, knocking, asking, and eventually, gradually, God helped fix the hole in my heart – the hole that needed the joy of Jesus’ saving grace, not just the knowledge of my own sinfulness. I say gradually because this has only happened within the last year, it still took a decade for the entire healing process, and the tendency is always there for me to live in condemnation instead of grace.
There truly is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1). Jesus died and took all of your sins and all of the emotions you felt from those sins, and nailed them forever to the cross. Jesus does not blame you for your sins, or stand as a judge and mock you about your sins, Jesus does not look down on you for sinning, nor is He disappointed in your behavior.
- Jesus calls you His friend!! (John 15:13-15)
- Jesus calls you a Son and Daughter of the Most High God!! (2 Cor 6:18)
- Jesus really, really does love you more than you could ever know!! (Romans 5:8, John 15:13)
- There is nothing you can do that would make Jesus stop loving you!! (Romans 8:38-39)
- Jesus came to give us life, and to have it more abundantly!! (John 10:10)
- The wages of sin is death … but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus! (Romans 6:23)
These are God’s Words and promises, not mine, so you know that they are true, even in the midst of wavering emotions and unsure about your life circumstances. The joy that I was missing was only found in Christ’s work. When Jesus comes into our life, He accomplishes three things:
- Conviction: He convicts us of our sin through the Holy Spirit, meaning, He reveals our sin to us so that we can see it in our lives
- Forgiveness: He forgives us of our sin, meaning, He says “I know you did wrong, but I do not count it against you”
- Justification: He justifies us before God by paying the debt our sin owed, meaning, Jesus pays what you owe to God (because of sin) when you believe that His perfect life/death/resurrection was meant to save you and all people from their sin. This justifies you (makes you in right standing) with God.
Jesus doesn’t leave you in the “conviction” stage. He doesn’t say “Look at all of the bad stuff you have done” and then walk away. Jesus said “It is finished!” (John 19:30), He completed all of the steps. He convicts us to show us our faults so that we can be brought back in relationship with Him. Jesus doesn’t convict you so that you feel bad for the rest of your life – that is something that Satan does. Satan wants you to feel bad, to feel like you’re never good enough so that you never come back to God! (John 8:44). Jesus wants you to know the Truth, not to hurt you, but because He is a Good, and loving Father (1 John 3:1).
The final thing that helped me get it (after the Lord gradually turned my heart and mind to Him), was the song Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave. Here are some of the lyrics, and their YouTube video is below:
Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed
Dear Lord Jesus, I pray right now that anyone reading this can hear Your voice in their heart tonight. That You can show them that You died for whatever sin they have committed in the past, sins they are still struggling with in the present, and any sins they have yet to do in the future. I pray that You can tear back the scars of their past and open their heart to You forevermore. I pray that You, in due time, shake them from any shame, guilt, pain, regret, embarrassment, sadness, loss, and condemnation and show them Your great, unending love. Lord Jesus, please give them healing tonight and continually remind them of Your promises and how much You care about them. Jesus, You cared so much about all of us, that You died to save us, even while we were still sinning against You, hurting others, and hurting ourselves. Please Jesus, heal some people’s hearts tonight and bring them back into Your faithful, loving arms. In Your Holy name, Amen.
<Original work by BenBRockN. Feel free to reblog, ONLY if you give credit to the original author (me). Thanks!>