How can I be “always confident” (2 Cor. 5: 6), when my state of soul is so changeable?
On what are you building your confidence? Many in this world, in their foolishness, are building upon the sand (see Matt. 7: 26, 27)––but in the day of judgement, when all they trusted in will be swept away, their confidence will be seen to have been tragically misplaced. By contrast, Christian confidence is built upon a solid and immovable rock: “Now he that has wrought us for this very thing [is] God, who also has given to us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore [we are] always confident” (2 Cor. 5: 5, 6). Who has wrought? God! Therefore, says the apostle, we are “always confident”. The rock on which these men of old trusted was God, and because of that they could look on the trials of life, on death, and on the beyond, and exclaim we are “always confident”. Oh may this be the case with you and I!
Our souls will never be fully established until we see that our fickle practical state has nothing to do with our acceptance before God. Some of us are like the ever changing ocean: one moment calm and shining, the next agitated and dark. Our confidence must be placed upon the rock, not in the troubled waters of our own souls. The eye needs to be on Christ (see Matt.14: 30). Only then will we ceased being “tossed and carried about” (Eph. 4: 14)), and only then will we be always confident.
When Abel brought his offering to God––“the firstlings of his flock, and of their fat” (Gen. 4: 4) it says that “he obtained testimony of being righteous, God bearing testimony to his gifts” (Heb. 11: 4). It was not the personal excellence of Abel that God looked at in counting him righteous, but the excellence of the sacrifice he brought in faith. When a man takes a cheque to the bank, he gets in full what the cheque is worth. He does not get more if his character is good, or less if his character is bad. It is not a question of what he is worth, either morally or commercially, but what the value of the cheque that he brings is worth. It was thus with Abel, and it is thus with every sinner coming to God through Christ. When an Israelite laid his hand upon the burnt offering (Lev. 1: 4), the offerer became identified with the unblemished offering. In the same way God reckons the value of the sacrifice of Christ to every believer. Is that work perfect? Yes! Will it be perfect forever? Yes! Then the believer’s place of acceptance is in exact correspondence. Thus we read that “by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified” (Heb. 10: 14). Mark, it is not merely “perfected” but “perfected in perpetuity”. There is no intermission , no interval when it is not so. There is no variation in our acceptance with God because there is no variation in Christ’s acceptance with God.
Many years ago a brother in Christ was travelling by car in company with some friends. The driver drew his attention to a church in the distance. ‘See that church’ he said ‘between this point in the road and reaching it, we lose sight of it nine times’. Presently they descended a small hill and entirely lost sight of the church. As they drove to the crest of the next hill, however, the building once more came into view. Again they dipped into a valley, and again the church become hidden, until they again reached the next summit, and saw the church. Thus they travelled on, sometimes losing sight, and sometimes catching a fresh view, until at last they drove past the building, having, as the driver had said, lost sight of it nine times within three or four miles.
Now how often do you suppose the church went up and down on that drive? ‘The church went up and down?’ you exclaim, ‘The ups and downs were with those in the car, not with the church!’ Exactly. Similarly, in the variable conditions of soul which you talk about, the ups and downs are with you, not with Christ. There are no ups and downs in God’s thought of Christ’s personal worth, or of the value of His sacrifice, and as He accepts you on that ground, there can be no ups and downs in your acceptance either. There is no change in Him above for “I Jehovah change not” (Mal. 3: 6), and this unchanging God is the one that “has taken us into favour in the Beloved” (Eph 1: 6).
If you want to know what God thinks of the believer, you must look at Christ, not at yourself, for “even as he is, we also are in this world” (1 John 4: 17). The Devil is quite content for you to be self–occupied, for he knows that a troubled soul will be a poor workman for the Master. God would have us occupied with Christ––and with the eye of faith on Christ, knowing what He is to God, there is no reason why we cannot be “always confident” and therefore of service to God. May it be so for each of us!