Does God accept you ‘as you are’ on your terms?
You’ve heard this statement before. I say it all the time myself and though there is some truth to it, I could to say it differently to avoid possible confusion. Please allow me to demonstrate how this statement can be false and misleading.
People are always looking for acceptance from others. They feel constant rejection due to one reason or another. It starts early in school, later in the workplace, and carries over even within the family.
Society in the first world is working hard to make this ‘rejection’ disappear. The thinking seems to be that once the societal taboos vanish, there will be no differences which are the cause for rejection and everyone will be accepted. You can tell it’s a huge subject, just look for instance at how many reality shows on TV are about acceptance and rejection. Notice the number of cartoons that have weird characters that are looking for acceptance.
The church has unfortunately bought into this thinking. What the Bible defines as sin, we explain as a disorder (mental or emotional), a disease or genetic alteration (I am not trying to say there’s no such thing as real disorders with pathological evidence).
Instead of saying “sin” we now use words like, “junk, struggles, failures, mistakes, baggage, issues, hang-ups, problems, challenges”.
The disconnect comes when the Bible does not make mention of sin in such terms and is seemingly obsolete to the ‘real’ problems today. People turn to psychiatry for answers instead. It is an epidemic of magnanimous scale but the real cause continues to evade people’s notice. The true root of this issue is not societal or psychological but spiritual. As long as people have sinful natures there will always be rejection. The sin nature is the cause for jealousy, quarrels, rejection, etc. (Gal 5:19-21). Christ is the only one who gives a true sense of acceptance, because it’s not performance-based but a free, unmerited gift.
In fact, the Gospel is presented today in ways that avoid being offensive and accepted to the point of washing away the content of the Good News message. The condition for God’s acceptance is not my ‘weirdness’. He cannot accept me ‘as I am’ because what I am is sinful and fallen. Self-seeking and uncaring, filled to the brim with vanity unchanged by the chaos and suffering I see around me. Without understanding with clarity what our reality before God, that we are helpless, hopeless sinners deserving of hell, the Good News is nonsensical!
You hear gospel messages in the form of, “God accepts you ‘as you are…just come on up!’…again, while there is some truth to the “come as you are” statement, it is not the content of the Gospel and void of truth. Your acceptance by God because ‘God is love’ (though God truly is love) is a misrepresentation of God’s perfect righteousness and lack of understanding man’s sinfulness and current state before God.
Mankind deserves just punishment for breaking God’s law. God is perfectly fair in sending all to hell because all justly deserve it. You see I am not entitled to possess God’s love just because He has the love to give me. How is it that you or I can come to God ‘as you are’ and expect Him to show you forgiveness? Because He’s in with today’s fad of accepting what’s actually sin?
Acceptance with God
Many verses of the Bible speak of God’s acceptance of us…(John 6:37, Rom 8:1, Col 1:21-22, Rom 15:7, Rom 5:1, Eph 1:5-6, 2 Cor 1:21-22, Col 1:13-14). There are only a few.
What the Bible teaches is, that God accepts you only through who Christ is and what He’s done in substitution for you. Because God is love, He sent and gave His one and only Son to come and pay in our place the debt that was owed for our sinfulness. God demonstrates his love for you ‘as you are’…
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
I believe this is very important to differentiate for today’s acceptance-seeking, generation. I know in my thinking there’s a huge need for acceptance as I am. In fact, someone I’ve accepted that people owe me acceptance.
Since God is love, He must take you in as you are, and He’s cool with that. He’s the ultimate good guy who doesn’t judge and likes you for who you are. You can sense my sarcasm but maybe it’s truer than we want to admit.
How God sees mankind
Let’s see what the Bible says about how God sees us ‘as you are’…
For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.Isaiah 64:6
This is not to mean mankind is worthless. There’s a difference between unclean and worthless. Christ dying for mankind showed that mankind has great worth to God.
God sees mankind as spiritually dead (separated) in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-3). Enemies (Rom 5:8), disobedient (Col 3:6), ungodly sinners (Jud 1:15) to name a few.
How you are accepted
The Gospel message means good news. The good news is that Jesus died for the purpose of paying for your sins, He was buried and was raised on the third day. Through The Gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed, which means that we can know how to be accepted by God. When I say accepted, I mean fully, truly, unconditionally and eternally accepted by God. You see, because God is love he devised a way to accept us. Not as we are but through faith in Jesus Christ!
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;Rom 3:21-22
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,Romans 5:1
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.Romans 8:1
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,2 Corinthians 5:18
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,Ephesians 1:5
and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 3:15
And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,1 Peter 3:21
The terms “through Christ”, “in Christ” is always stated because it is essential to our acceptance before God. There is no other way.
The Good News!
Jesus already paid for humanity and His payment was accepted in the eyes of the righteous God. We know this because God raised him from the dead!
It is Jesus who invites you ‘come as you are’ to share in His reward. In fact, do you have to do anything to become accepted by God? No, the acceptance is made and availed through Jesus!
The question is, have you personally believed this to be true? Did you see that you are a lost and helpless sinner in need of deliverance? Did you see you could never be acceptable before God on your terms? Have you trusted Christ as your only means of acceptance before God? If you have, you are of course fully accepted by God’s righteous, holy standard as one of His own. His grace was realized in Christ and God gifted full acceptance to us on the basis of faith alone in Christ alone. Those who continue to seek acceptance before God on the basis of anything other than Christ are under His indignation (see below) and ultimate wrath. (see below those not in Christ)
So you are accepted…now what?
As believers, God does not leave you to be ‘as you are’. His call is to Himself to be grown into the image of His Son as we walk by faith in His Son. The just person (declared by faith in Christ) is to walk by faith.
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:57
And such confidence we have through Christ toward God.2 Corinthians 3:4
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.2 Corinthians 8:9
Paul, an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),Galatians 1:1
having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:11
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,Philippians 3:9
equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.Hebrews 13:21
you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5
More Good News!
The good news is because you are one with Christ, you are accepted before God 24/7 no matter what. You have a perfect standing before God. In fact, God wants you to know and count on it! Acceptance is yours, Christ is yours, and you are His.
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.Romans 6:3-11
It is incumbent upon you as you share Christ to start with the character of God (He is love, but He is also completely just). As sinners, God is fair to demand punishment for our sins. As we share the Gospel you don’t need to sugar-coat this fact for this generation to not get their self-esteem hurt, they deserve to know the truth.
Sharing the Gospel of grace though is about sharing Christ, sharing His work on the cross and His acceptance by God. He is the Saviour and Redeemer. People cannot believe in Him unless they are shared about Him (Rom 10:17). The focus of the Gospel is not to be on the unbeliever turning their life around. It is not about their feeling sorry for sin or becoming cleaned up so God can help them. The Gospel just so happens to be the power of God unto salvation, is to all who simply believe (Rom 1:16, Acts 16:31). In other words, come ‘as you are’ through Christ, allow God to change you as you are from within through Christ dwelling in you.
Those not in Christ are found wanting…unacceptable
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:36
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.Psalm 7:11
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.Romans 2:5
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.Ephesians 5:6
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.Romans 3:22
On account of these the wrath of God is coming.Colossians 3:6
“Therefore wait for Me,” declares the LORD, “For the day when I rise up as a witness Indeed, My decision is to gather nations, To assemble kingdoms, To pour out on them My indignation, All My burning anger; For all the earth will be devoured By the fire of My zeal.Zephaniah 3:8
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,Romans 3:23
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,Romans 1:18
God is both indignant and acceptant on one single basis…the acceptance or rejection of the Gospel.
on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.Romans 2:16
Those who believe the gospel are given relief when Jesus comes. Those who do not obey the gospel (believed it) are paid eternal destruction for the wages of their sin is death.
and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
God does not accept anyone as they are. God only accepts lost, helpless sinners and only on the basis of who Christ is and what He did for them. When He accepts them, He accepts them fully as His beloved children. The only way to be accepted by God through His Son is by faith alone in Christ alone (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Those who have been accepted by God through Christ are invited to also walk through Christ. The moment you enter His family, you are transferred from being an enemy (Rom 5:8) to a posture of peace with God (Rom 5:1). He begins pouring out His love on you (Rom 5:5). He enrolls you in His disciplined training program (Heb 12:5-10) for the purpose of maturing you (Rom 5:2-5) and ultimate conformity to the image of His Son (Phil 3:21). God does not accept you “as you are”, He accepts you unconditionally through the Person of His Son for the purpose of revealing you in the image of His Son (Rom 8:19) to the glory of His name!