Joyce Meyer - How Are We Made Right With God?
Well thank you for joining us today. We're here in our studio and gonna share a word with you that I believe is gonna make a lot of changes in your life. How can we have a sensing and a knowing that we're in right relationship with God? Is it because we do everything right? Is it because we pray enough every day, and go to church a certain amount of times a week, and do enough good works, and read a certain amount of the Bible? Is it by following other rules and regulations that we may think that God has for us? When we follow that plan, we always fail and we always feel that we come up short. And then probably as a result of that, we feel that God's not pleased with us or even maybe that he's mad at us.
Today you're gonna understand hopefully and prayerfully that right standing with God is a gift that he gives us as his children. But first, let's take a minute to talk about how can we be saved, how can we be born again. How can we come into an intimate, close, loving, wonderful, freeing relationship with God through Christ? Well, Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us that it is all by free grace, God's unmerited favor. You see, favor cannot be purchased. It cannot be earned or deserved. Favor is an unmerited gift of God. Grace is a most amazing thing. It's God doing something for us that we do not and never could ever deserve. And it's by that favor that we are saved and delivered from judgment. Isn't that good news, delivered from judgment? Don't have any need to be afraid of Christ coming back. Have no need to be afraid of leaving this earth and going to my heavenly home.
We are made a partaker of Christ's salvation through faith, through our faith. And this salvation, it's not of ourselves. It came not of our own doing. It came not through our own striving or our own works, but it is the gift of God. And you know, that gift is available to anyone today, not because of works, not the fulfillment of the law's demands, lest anyone should boast. It's not the result of what anyone can possibly do. So see, if maybe you're watching today and you say, "Well, you know, I've lived a terrible life and I'd really like to be forgiven. I'd like to believe that I could be right with God, but you know, I'm really trying to be good enough to deserve that".
Well you know what? You're gonna be trying the whole rest of your life, because the truth is no man can be good enough to deserve what God wants to give us as a free gift. The Bible teaches us that our own righteousness are our righteous acts, our right doing. Our best effort is still like a filthy rag before God. Because if we're gonna live by the law, then we either keep it all and we keep it perfectly right 100% of the time or we're guilty of breaking every single bit of it. Well you know, the same way that we're born again, the same way we're saved is the same way that we have to live our life, the total same way that we have to live our life.
See, there's so many wonderful scriptures in the word of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that, "For our sake he made Christ virtually to be sin who knew no sin, so that in and through him we might become endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of the righteousness of God". So literally, what he's saying is that Christ on the cross took our sin. Now just picture this. He took your sin, took it away from you if you'll give it up. He took your sin and he gave you his righteousness.
Now, we have this really ugly looking rock here, and you might be thinking, "What in the world is she doing with that ugly thing there"? Well you know, when I say that you've been made right with God, and that you are righteous or that I am righteous, right away we think, "Well, how can that be because I do wrong things"? We think that a person is only righteous or right if they do everything right. But the thing we have to understand in order to have a comfortable relationship with God is that he makes us right with him by his grace and mercy. He makes us right inside in our spirit, he comes to live in us, and then he works with us throughout our life to literally learn how to live inside out, so to speak. The good things that are in us, then, are worked out in our soul and then finally seen through our bodies where the world around us can see it.
So literally, this is the way that we are. This is a rock called a geode, I think, and you see how beautiful that is on the inside? These things are absolutely amazing to me. Look at that. I mean, that could decorate a nice home. People get good money for these. And they just dug this out of the ground. I think it's interesting that God has a habit of hiding good stuff, and we have to dig for it. Gold is usually not just laying along the road. You gotta dig for it. Silver, copper, all kinds of precious stones, diamonds, and a lot of other things, you have to dig for it.
And I just wanna say to you today, if you have received Christ as your Savior, stop thinking for a minute about all the things that you still don't do right and realize for a few moments that God has made you an amazing person on the inside. You see, when Christ comes to live in us, he can't be anywhere that's not holy. So he literally makes our spirits holy. He cleans us up completely and totally before he can come to dwell in us. That's why the Bible says, "You are holy". That's why the Bible says, "You are the righteousness of God in Christ".
We also have all the fruit of the spirit on the inside of us. We have love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness. And it's all there as a seed. Seed has to be watered. It has to be nurtured. So when we water that seed with the word of God, which is actually referred to in some places as the water of the word — when you water that seed with the word of God, the more we study the word, the more the good things that are in us begin to work their way out of us. It's actually called transformation. We have been regenerated inwardly. Now we're gonna be transformed outwardly. It's much like what a caterpillar goes through in becoming a butterfly. We start out as worms and we end up these beautiful, beautiful butterflies that are so amazing. No two alike. There's no two of us that are alike, but each one beautiful and amazing in their own right.
Once again, it's like this rock. Wormy, ugly, terrible looking on the outside, but oh my, the good things that God has put in us is absolutely amazing. Do you ever feel like you're two people? Like there's part of you that wants to do good and part of you that wants to do bad? Are you ever like me? Do you wake up in the morning and you plan for a holy day, and it lasts until you put your feet on the floor, and then after that, it's all over? But see, I have learned to not be condemned about that, and you can learn the same thing.
The Bible teaches us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that, "If any person is in Christ, he's a new creation, (a new creature altogether): the old previous moral and spiritual condition has passed away. And behold, the fresh and the new has come"! God is offering you a brand-new start. Now, let's do it again. This is the fresh and the new that comes. This still looks the same way. Maybe you receive Christ today and we pray with you at the end of the program. Maybe you did it 3 years ago. Well, if you go look at yourself in the mirror, you might still look like this. If you examine your behavior, maybe at least part of you still looks like this. Maybe some of it's gotten chipped away by now. But he changes us into his image from glory to glory.
That caterpillar that crawls along the ground eventually crawls up on the back side of a branch somewhere, spins a cocoon around itself, and in there completely turns to liquid. Can I just say that I think we have to become pliable and moldable, liquid if you will, in the hands of God, where he can easily move us and reshape us into what he wants us to be. By a miracle of God, that worm becomes a butterfly. And eventually, you'll see the struggle in that cocoon, and it will break open, and this beautiful, amazing butterfly that amazes everybody comes out.
And you know, that's what's gonna happen to you. Some of you might be discouraged with yourself today. You might say, "Well, you know, I've been going to church for a long time and I just cannot believe some of the things that I still do. I still act so bad. I just don't feel like I'm changing at all". Well, let me tell you something. If you're believing, you're changing. But when you stop believing, then you stop changing. I really believe, and there is scripture to back up, that as long as we're believing, God is working. So no matter how you feel, if you get up every day and you say, "My faith is in Christ. He is my Savior. He has made me right with him and he is working in me today, working that righteousness from the inside of me to the outside of me," then I can tell you that God is working. Don't get discouraged and don't give up on yourself.
You know, I had so many things wrong with me when I first got into a serious relationship with God that, I mean, any message I heard, I needed it. I don't care what it was on, it was for me. If it was on the mouth, it was for me. If it was on the mind, it was for me. If it was about attitude, it was for me. But every time I would go and hear preaching, or teaching, or watch a good message on television, or hear one on some kind of recorded message, I would go away feeling guilty and condemned because I just let the word make me feel bad about myself. And see, if you don't know who you are in Christ, then the enemy can actually do that to you. But I learned that God actually convicts us of sin and he uses the word to do it, but the devil condemns us and tries to make us feel guilty and he presses us down, down, down.
You know, the good news is, even today while I'm ministering to you, or when you read your Bible, or when you go to church, if you're convicted of some sin in your life when you hear the word, that is good news. Because think about all the years in your life when you weren't bothered by it at all. You know, I'm glad that I can't do much of anything that's wrong and not have God just let me know, I mean, really, really, quick. And I pray for that all the time simply because I don't wanna get by with anything, and I'm sure that you don't either. But I had to come to the point where that conviction did not condemn me, but I would actually thank God for it and say, "Thank you, God, for showing that to me". You know why? I'm glad that God loves us too much to ever leave us alone, aren't you? I'm so glad.
The worst thing that could ever happen to us would be to never be any different than what we are right now. The best thing that can happen is that we can change. You know, in Romans chapter 12, the Bible teaches us that we are changed by the entire renewal of our mind. So you know, God puts all these good things in us, but to be honest, we still think like this because we think based on what we see and how we act.
Now you know really, we're from Missouri here, which, you're not all from Missouri. Some of you are not even from the United States, you're watching from all over the world. But our state is called the "Show me" state. We're kinda like, "Well, you show me and then I'll believe it". But see, that's not the way the kingdom of God is at all. In the kingdom of God, it's the exact opposite. He said, "You believe and then you'll see". And so nothing out here is gonna change. Nothing in my behavior's gonna change, nothing about my attitude is gonna change, until I learn how to think the way God thinks, which is his word. And the more I study, the more I renew my mind, the more I start to look like this beautiful inside of me that is given to me as a gift. I can't earn this. I can't deserve this. No man can be made righteous by the law.
I wanna read you a few scriptures in Romans chapter 3, starting in verse 20. "For no person will be justified (made righteous, acquitted, and judged acceptable) in God's sight by observing the works prescribed by the law". So here's the thing you gotta understand. You can go to church ten times a week, that doesn't make you acceptable to God. A Christian is not somebody who goes to church. There's a lot of people that go to church that really probably don't have any kind of personal relationship with God. A Christian is someone who receives Christ as the sacrifice for all of their sins, who knows and believes wholeheartedly that he is the son of God, that he came strictly for the purpose of paying for our sins, that he died a terrible, painful death and took our punishment, that he died in our place, and that he rose from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God.
If you believe that with all of your heart... and you know, this makes no sense to your mind. If I start to mentally try to figure out how does this plan of salvation work, my mind goes tilt, tilt, tilt, tilt. That makes no sense at all. How could somebody die in my place? How could somebody else pay for my sins. But if you listen with your heart today to what I'm saying, many of you can have a complete change in your life today. Is your heart saying, "What I'm hearing is true"? You can't be made right with God by good works, no matter how much you give away, no matter how much church work you do, no matter how many good works you do, do matter what you do in life until you receive Christ as your Savior.
You see, this is what I like to say. Obviously, we're born for good works. The Bible says that we're created in God for good works and to live a good life, but we don't do those good works to get God to love us. Now here's the bottom line. We don't do good works to get God to love us. We do them because he does love us freely by his grace. He makes us right with him. We have freedom with him. If we make mistakes, we don't have to go all the way back to square one. We can just say, "Lord, I receive your forgiveness. Thank you for your grace and mercy. I'm sorry I did that. Help me to change and not to do it again".
Oh and by the way, it doesn't matter how many times you have to do that. See, God is a God of hearts, and if he sees your heart, if he sees that you love him, that you care, that you want to do the right thing. You know, I don't do the right thing every day, but I want to do the right thing every day. And when I don't do the right thing every day, it grieves me, it hurts me, because I don't want to hurt the heart of God. And I'm sure that many of you are like that and I know a lot of people in this studio are like that. And you see, that's what pleases God. He sees our heart's desire. He sees our want to. But you know where I got that want to? From God.
Actually, when you're born again, you get a new want to. You start out only wanting a new life. You're like, "I don't want this misery anymore. I don't wanna be afraid I'm gonna go to hell. I wanna think I'm gonna go to heaven. I wanna have somebody that I can pray to and believe that they hear me. I want a friend. I don't want this burden of sin on me anymore". And so we all come to Christ very, very needy. And we cry out to him, "God, if you can help me, help me". And boy, he takes you just the way you are. I love it, when God throws a party, it's always a come as you are party. Thank God we don't have to get fixed up to go to his party.
So the Bible says that we're never saved by the works that we do, "But the righteousness of God has been revealed independently and altogether apart from the law," apart from the law, "Although actually it is attested by the law and the prophets, namely the righteousness of God," now watch this, "Which comes by believing with personal trust and reliance and confidence on Jesus Christ, the Messiah".
Let me just throw something out here for good measure. You know, I'm not gonna get to heaven because of my grandma's faith. You're not gonna have a great relationship with God because you have a pastor who has a great relationship with God. We can't get by on secondhand faith. We all need to have our own personal relationship with God. And some of you think that you're just too bad for that, but where is Christ gonna fellowship with you? In here, in this part of you that he's cleaned up. He's not even trying to fellowship with you in this. He's fellowshipping with you in here, in your spirit.
God is a spirit, and he comes to live in your spirit. He makes this inside of you his home. And then because he's in there, you begin to cooperate with him, then more and more of this stuff begins to fall away. Actually, if I look at this, boy you know, that good stuff is just really close to the edge. That means I don't need much chipping away and the outside of me's gonna start to look like the inside of me. You know, we're all just diamonds in the rough. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". All, all, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, "And all are justified and made upright and put in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by," what? "By his grace," that same grace that we talked about earlier in the very beginning.
You know, it's so great to know that you can have a right relationship with God, that we're made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ. You know, we need to learn, I say all the time, to separate our who and our do. Maybe you've heard me say this and maybe you haven't. But you know, I have four children: David, Laura, Daniel, Sandra. And then on top of that, I've got 11 grandchildren. I won't go through all those names, but they're family. They're my kids. My kids. Now, I know who they are. They don't always do everything right. Nobody has children who do everything right all the time. Yet, I never stop loving them. Have you ever told your kids, "No matter what you do, I'll always love you," and we will.
Well, if we can do that as people, what in the world can God do? I mean, he is so far above us. If I can always love my kids... now that, doesn't mean I like everything they do. Sometimes I'd like to just, you know... but it never lasts long. And you know what, the quicker they come and say, "Mom, I'm so sorry. I love you so much. Please don't be mad," oh man, it only takes a minute to get it over. And you know, the devil likes to come around and accuse, and make us feel bad about ourselves, and judge us and condemn us.
Well, let's just suppose for a minute that you had a child that maybe wasn't also perfect, and your neighbor came over to tell you how bad your kid was. You know, you probably would just tell the neighbor, "You know what? My kid is none of your business. You go home and I'll take care of my kid". And you know what, when the devil condemns you, that's exactly God's attitude toward him. "You have no authority over my children. I will take care of them. What they do is none of their business". And if you can learn how to separate who you are in Christ from what you do, then you can actually bring that into your prayer life and you can get up every day and say, "I'm so grateful that by the grace and the mercy of God, I have been made right with God through the blood of Jesus Christ".
And you know what, what you believe you are is what you're gonna produce in life. An apple tree doesn't have to try to produce apples. It knows it's an apple tree and it just stands there and produces apples. Why? Because it's drawing some nutrients up out of the ground because it's rooted in healthy soil. Well, the Bible says we're to get rooted and grounded in Christ, rooted and grounded in his love. Jesus said, "If you abide in me, you will bear much fruit". All that apple tree has to do is stand there, stay rooted in the ground, and it will bear apples. If it abides in the ground, it will bear apples.
And you know what? If we abide in Christ, we will bear the fruit of Christ in our lives. But it's not through struggling. It's not you saying, "Oh, I'm gonna try to be good. I'm gonna try to not talk so much. I'm gonna try to be a better person... Any fruit yet"? Just imagine if we saw apple trees or peach trees going... No, they're just... Pretty soon you see this little fruit pop out on their branches. And you know what? If you just stay in Christ, if you love him, the more you love him, the more you realize how much he loves you, the more you know who you are in Christ.
Let me tell you today that you're saved by grace, born again for a brand-new life in him, recreated in Christ Jesus. We all got messed up. God's original plan for us did get messed up, but we are recreated in Christ Jesus, born again that we might do the good works that he prearranged and made ready for us to live, that we might live the good life that he wants us to live. Today I just simply wanna say to you if you've not received Christ as your Savior, we have phone operators standing by. You can call the number that's on your screen. They'd love to pray with you. Also, I'm gonna pray with you just here at the close of the program and just let you know that God's arms are open wide to you today. He's inviting you into a relationship with him.
Nobody's in a pit so deep that God can't reach down in it and lift them out. Christ died once for our sins. One single sacrifice for our sins that shall avail for all time, and that sacrifice is for you. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, therefore all are made righteous with him by faith in him. All you need to do today is say, "Yes, I am a sinner. I made lots of mistakes. And I'm ready to turn away from that sin right now. I wanna do a complete turn around and I wanna go in a brand-new direction. I say goodbye to sin and hello to Jesus". And if you mean that in your heart, I want you to pray that prayer with me right now. The Bible says that God forgives our sins, he forgets them, he remembers them no more, and he removes them as far as the east is from the west. What kind of good news is that?
Now, let's pray this prayer together. "Father God, I love you. Jesus, I believe in you. I want you in my life. Forgive my sins. Cleanse me from everything that's not right and make me a brand-new creature. Wash me clean. I receive you, Jesus. I believe you died for me. I believe you rose from the dead. Come and live in my heart. Now I give myself to you, and I receive you, and I thank you that I am now saved". Wow, let's give you a big hand clap there. Whoa, that's so good, such good news.