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The Standard and Forgivess of God

Blog -> Bible

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

In my last blog (http://simplesecrets.info/blog.php?blogid=57) I shared with you why I personally think that mistakes are sin. Thanks to everyone who shared their opinions, whether you agreed with me or not. I liked all your responses, especially when you disagreed with me in a very respectful way. How different the world would be if we could all disagree with such love and respect for one another.

Now after finishing the last blog, I did realize that I could be misunderstood. Those of you who don’t know me and simply read that particular blog could think I’m a nasty, legalistic, condemning and unpleasant Christian whose mission is simply to make everybody around me miserable. So while I stand to what I wrote, and still believe it (I believe mistakes are sin!) I also want to put that belief in balance with something that I believe is equally true: God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.

Allow me to start with my own spiritual journey: I grew up in a legalistic church where Christianity was reduced to a list of “do this” and “don’t do that”. Witnessing that, seeing how people turn out living in that kind of environment for 20, 30, 40 years,… I pretty quickly decided that this is NOT the life I wanted. So I turned my back on Jesus, the church, religion, etc. And I decided to simply do exactly the opposite of everything that the religious system taught me. In other words: I crossed every line, and made a HUGE mess of my life.

Long story short, God is bigger. And in 2004 He brought me to a VERY different kind of church, I started reconsidering my belief system, I came to Shanghai and became a Christian here (Sharing all the details in between would fill a book. You can contact us if you would like to hear the whole story).

My only problem was that I still had my old way of thinking from the church I grew up in. I knew in my head that I had been forgiven. But not in my heart. I knew that the things I did were wrong, and I was confronted with guilt and shame for my actions. Still thinking the way people thought in my old church, I knew only one solution: Trying harder, making up for the bad things I did for the last 15 years of my life. So I started trying to work myself back into acceptance by God. Whatever our church offered, I was there, and I served. You name a church event in the fall of 2004, and you can be almost certain I was there. Most of the time, I was serving somehow. So I was present. My body was there. But my heart was not. The guilt and shame I felt just didn’t go away. So all I could do was to try harder and harder and harder. However, nothing changed. I still felt lost. (Talk about the Older Brother in Luke 15. I know what it feels like, I’ve been there. See my blog on that parable as well: http://simplesecrets.info/blog.php?blogid=55)

So my old questions came back up: Do I want this for the rest of my life? I’m a Christian now, but this is how it feels? Is this really “fullness of life” that Jesus promised? How long can I live like this? When did I work enough to be accepted by God? Obviously, I wasn’t any more fulfilled than I was before I chose to follow Jesus. Still lost, still confused. Just more busy than before.

And then there was the day that turned everything around: December 03rd 2004. It was the day I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I don’t know how to describe it. All I can say is that on that day I supernaturally experienced God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s joy over me, His mercies,… It all suddenly clicked. I knew I was loved by God. I knew I was accepted by Him. I knew I didn’t have to work myself back into His heart. Suddenly everything I learned over the months prior to this event made perfect sense. And from that day onwards, I lived a very, very different life. Now I experienced “life in all its fullness” that Jesus promised

That day my decision to follow Jesus moved from my head to my heart. Before that day I was a Christian in my head. And I knew about Jesus in my head. On that day I decided to follow Jesus from my heart. And I became a Christian in my heart. Actually, I think it’s fair to say: That day I truly became a Christian. Because following Jesus with our minds is important, but not enough. He asks for our hearts as well.  

That day changed my life. I could have listened to a 1000 more sermons that God forgave me. I could have gone to seminars and lectures about God’s love. I could have studied the Bible for another 10 years. if words only would not have changed me. Head knowledge doesn’t change people. It didn’t change me, and it never would have. But those few minutes when God just overwhelmed me with His presence, that’s when my life turned around. That’s when God did what no preacher could ever have done (at least not without the supernatural intervention by the Holy Spirit as well). That’s when I was truly saved.


So what does that have to do with my previous blog? Well, everything! Because salvation by definition means that we first need to acknowledge that we need someone to save us. If we don’t realize that we need to be saved, then why would we need Jesus? So the first step to Jesus is to realize that we fall short of God’s standards.

How far? Well, in Matt. 18, Jesus describes our debt towards God as 10.000 talents of God. In today’s economy, that amount of Gold would be around 13 Billion US$. I don’t know how this makes you feel. But if I imagine owing someone 13 Billion US$,… Just the thought makes me throw up and turns my stomach upside down. But that’s exactly the debt we have towards God. And the first step towards God is to acknowledge how great our debt towards Him is.

And that’s exactly why I wrote the previous blog. We all have to come to grips with the fact that we are not just “a little bit imperfect”. We’re not “half way there”. We utterly fail. As one preacher put it: “Basketball players can jump much higher than me. So they are much better than me. But for God, the standard is: ‘Jump over the moon!’ And compared to that standard, it simply doesn’t matter any longer how high we can jump. Cause compared to the standard of ‘being able to jump high enough’ it simply doesn’t matter whether you can jump twice as high as I can.”

That’s the boat we are in, folks. No matter how good you might be compared to other human beings, it means absolutely nothing in comparison to God’s standards.


So where does that leave us? Many people have very different responses. Some people deny. They simply want to ignore Christianity, ignore reality. They don’t want to face the reality of God, so they avoid Him. Others try to twist the truth, to make themselves look better (Just look at how many people now turn their backs on Biblical teachings on sexuality and homosexuality).Others look to the “bad guys” and say: “I’m not as bad as they are. So I’m OK.” But none of these ways of dealing with our guilt and shame really helps, does it? I tried some of them (maybe even all). It certainly didn’t help me.

So what then? What’s the solution?

Well, here’s where the verse is coming in that I shared in the beginning:

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

What does this verse actually mean? I believe it simply means this: Those who mourn over their sinfulness, those who acknowledge how far we fall short of God’s standards and feel sad about it, it’s those who people who will experience comfort. God’s comfort.

Think about what Jesus said to Simon the Pharisee:

Luke 7:47 Therefore I say unto you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.

This is exactly the same message. It doesn’t mean that because the woman messed up her life, that’s why she loves God more. It simply means that this woman acknowledges how much she falls short of God’s standards. And because she does that, she can also love God more. But a self-righteous person like the Pharisees, they don’t realize how much they need forgiveness. As a result, they don’t love God much.

Same is true for us today as well: I’ve met many people who feel “good enough for God”. They do all the right things: They serve, they tithe, they pray,… But do they love God? Many don’t. Because they don’t see their need for forgiveness.

But the person who realizes how much he/she has been forgiven, that’s the person who also serves God with a total different passion. That person serves God with joy and excitement, full of love and gratitude for God.

That’s exactly the transformation I experienced as well. Before that encounter with God on December 03rd 2004, I served God out of guilt and duty. Since that day however, I serve God out of love and gratitude. Outwardly it might look the same. But on the inside, it makes all the difference.

Unfortunately there are people in the church who try to avoid the issue of sin and God’s standard completely, because it makes them feel uncomfortable. And yes, for the moment it does. But I try to embrace this topic. Because when God confronts me with my sin, and I embrace it, then I can also experience His comfort, His love, His mercies and forgiveness afterwards. And there is NOTHING that beats the experience of God’s restoration.

I certainly didn’t want anybody to feel condemned or accused with my last blog. However, if I made you feel uncomfortable, then I do want to encourage you to run to God. Embrace Jesus’ cross. Put your trust in Him once again. And as you do, you will experience what I experienced a thousand times before: God’s comfort, that Jesus promised us in His Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

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