The meditative piano playing of "Just As I Am" has become salvation's anthem in many churches across America. At the end of the service, the call for prayer is given and this tune is executed. It's a sweet message. Come to Jesus, with my sin, with my conflicts, with my barriers, because His blood covers it all. This gospel message is a relief because it reminds us that we don't need to clean up our acts (we CAN'T clean up our own acts) before we come to Jesus. He has done all the work. As I spend some time focusing on a favorite passage of mine, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11, I see a beautiful truth that takes us from this favorite piano tune to the nitty gritty of the Christian's every day.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Before I continue with the rest of that passage, I want us to let this sink in for a moment. Maybe your pet sin isn't listed here, maybe it is. The point is that sinners will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you sin, you're separated from holy God. Period. Do not be deceived, the Word says. Do not think that God is looking over that sin. He is holy; He will consume that sin. Do not be deceived; do not think His love trumps His holiness. He is God and He is completely love and completely holy; in fact, He is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6: 3). Once this is all realized, we hearken to the tune of "Just As I Am". Recognizing our devastating sin upon a perfect Father in Heaven, we repent...in the very state of sin that we are in. We don't first stop gossiping then go. We don't first stop drinking then go. We don't first stop sleeping around then go. We go. And then Jesus does this:
and such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (vs. 11)
That's right. I go to Jesus with all of my sin, just as I am, and He does this magnificent transformation of my heart. He turns my dead, stony heart to soft and living. If I was a drunk, I am no longer. If I was a homosexual, I am no longer. If I was a liar, I am no longer. How is that possible, you may ask? I mean, I was born that way, right? Or, this is a life-long problem, isn't it?
If the Word says that Jesus has washed us in the power of the Trinity then why am I trying to say otherwise? This past tense verb holds such promise to us. We go to Jesus with our sin and all, but He does not leave us that way. Our Redeemer does not leave us that way!
Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross takes the place of those who believe and all of our sins. His righteousness is given to us freely. This is how God now views us because of Jesus' beautiful reconciling work. This is a truth that we must remember as we're battling our flesh on an everyday basis.
Will I keep struggling with my sins? Yes, because I'm still living in my flesh in a fallen world. But, I must remember Christ's work and what that means for me now. He is making me more and more conformed into His own image. If I stay put in those sins, though, then I am mocking all of this. This is bad fruit. I am rejecting Him. I can't go to Jesus "just as I am" and continue in that mire. Why would I want to?!? And yet this has become the anthem cry of many churches, hasn't it? No mention of sin, no cry for Jesus' saving work. Rather, just come and stay as you are--God is love (only). The story has been halved and the promise, or the good ending, has been banned.
Don't just give the patient the bad news and leave it at that. "Come as you are and Jesus will just leave you in that addiction or in that pattern of anxiety or fear." No, we must tell the patient that there is hope for change, and that hope comes not from our own doing, but it has been accomplished--and is continuing to be accomplished daily--by Someone with perfect power.
So, let's praise God that we are no longer just as we were! He is making all things new and we have hope of victory over the sins that have defined us and controlled us.