Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 ESV)
Though Jesus invites sinners (like you) to come to him for cleansing, relief, and renewal, I find that many of us are often slow to come to him on account of those very things that should speed us on our way to him. There are many lies we are tempted to believe that can short-circuit our communion with Christ. Here are four to watch out for.
This sin isn’t serious enough to take to Jesus
Some of you consider your sins, at least some of your sins, as too small to take to Jesus. No one got hurt, your faith is intact, so why both Jesus with it? The problem is the perceived smallness of your sins has created an excuse for you to stay away from the Savior, rather than reminding you of your need to stay close. Your sins, no matter their degree of heinousness, always demand that you to return–run! to the Lord. Jesus died on account of such sins, for they alone are enough to condemn you forever. Those lustful glances, brief but harsh words, and dismissive attitude toward others may seem small, but they are not only worthy of damnation, but they are dangerous and have the potential to harden your heart. Do not gloss over them, thinking they are insignificant, but see them for what they really are–an offense to God and a danger to your soul–and flee to Jesus for grace.
This sin is so bad I can’t face Jesus
Some of you feel the severity of your transgressions so acutely that you have fallen into a kind of spiritual paralysis. Some are so guilted by their sin they feel they simply cannot even face the Savior. But our shame, which is very real, isn’t supposed to end in us. Our guilt should cause to us to turn to the only One who can handle it; to the only One who has handled it. It is a lie that we too quickly believe, “This is too big.” The blasphemous implications are that Jesus is too small, unloving, and unforgiving to deal with our transgressions. But, the deeper the sin, the greater the need. And the offer from Jesus remains free and unending grace to all who will come!
I am not sorry enough for my sin
I have believed this one myself. Some of us sense our sin, but aren’t sufficiently grieved for it. We know that we lack true godly sorrow for our law-breaking, and we then conclude that any “return” to Jesus at this point would be hypocritical. I’m not sorry enough, so why would Jesus receive me? There are at least two problems here. One is those who are in Christ are already received by him. There is nothing blocking our access to Jesus! The second problem has to do with where your conviction and sorrow comes from. Why would you think you can conjure up sufficient remorse over your sins without drawing near to the one who bore your shame on the cross? Do you really believe that you can see and feel the gravity of your sin apart from drawing close to the One who felt the darkness of your sins on your behalf? No, you can only find deep and appropriate sorrow for your sins when you see them in light of the Savior!
I haven’t cleaned myself up enough yet
Another lie I see many Christians buy that we need to get cleaned up to meet with Jesus. It often works itself out like this. We “blow it” again, or fall into whatever sin we seem to feebly fight. Conviction hits us hard, but instead of turning to Jesus we think, “Before I can look him in the face I must first clean myself up. Just a good day of consistent prayer free of that one sin, and then I’ll be right.” But this is a kind of works-righteousness. This is religion based on how clean we can make ourselves. It establishes our confidence before God on our own personal reformation rather than on Jesus’ perfect redemption. This is a dangerous lie that will lead you farther from Jesus. You think you are drawing near to him when you are finally ready, but in reality you are pulling back from him by trusting in your own performance.
Here is the truth: Jesus said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:34) Do not delay in looking to Jesus. Do not allow any whisper from your heart or the devil himself to lead you to “tarry.” Your slowness to come to Jesus daily, hourly, in the face of your sin, will only result in broken communion with him. He is ready for you now. Run!
Joe Thorn is Lead Pastor of redeemer fellowship in St. Charles, IL and blogs at joethorn.net. His book, note to self: the discipline of preaching to yourself, was released through Crossway/ReLit. You can follow him on Twitter @joethorn.