Thoughts from The Bible

Confidence at the Coming of Christ

by Sarah Wootten

You were caught red-handed. You thought no one was watching, but moms always know. She walked into the kitchen right as your hand was pulling the cookie out of the cookie jar. There was no escape. There was no excuse. You couldn’t blame it on your siblings. It was all your fault, and mom witnessed your guilt. Immediately, tears welled up. The bottom lip quivered. You would have hid in a corner with a blanket over your head if it was an option. But you saw no way out. Do you remember that feeling as a child? It’s an overwhelming mixture of shame, guilt, regret, disappointment, and sorrow. It’s wondering if your wrong can be made right, or if your guilt will linger forever.

As we come to the end of 1 John 2, John tells his readers an important reason why they should not trust the antichrists, the false teachers. John wants the believers to be confident when Christ comes instead of shrinking away in shame. “And now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink from Him in shame at His coming,” (1 John 2:28, ESV).

The confidence that John is describing isn’t a confidence of ability, nor does it have any hint of arrogance. Certainly, we have no confidence before Christ based on our merit, character, devotion, or knowledge (Philippians 3:3). No, the confidence before Jesus that John is describing is the same assurance that John has been describing all along in this epistle. It’s knowing the true God and His salvation. So when Jesus returns for His Bride and to judge the wicked, believers can be confident knowing that their sin debt has been paid. They have received the righteousness of Christ. When the holy Son of God comes, believers won’t have to run and hide because of their unholiness. Their sins have already been paid for. They are safe, being found in Christ.

On the other hand, unbelievers do not share in this confidence because they don’t know the truth. This is what John is warning his readers about. Don’t fall into lies that lead to condemnation and judgment. If you turn away from the truth, then you won’t have confidence at His coming. Instead, you’ll be filled with shame. Remember Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit that God commanded them not to touch? When God came walking in the cool of the day, what did Adam and Eve do? They hid themselves. They were full of shame, embarrassment, and guilt, and rightfully so. Imperfect, unholy man should always feel shame when confronted with the perfect, holy God.

Right now, God has given humanity a wonderful season filled with patience and grace. He is giving us opportunity to seek the truth, repent of our sins, and trust in Him. We don’t have to be filled with shame at His coming. Salvation is free for all who believe. And since the penalty for sin has already been paid by Jesus, He can take away all the shame that we experience and give us the righteousness of Christ.

But on a day unbeknownst to us, Jesus will return to judge the wicked and to make all things right. And on that day, it will be too late. All who are found outside of Christ will experience shame before God. God will find them guilty of their sins, and they will not experience eternal life with Him. Instead, they will endure His eternal wrath.

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