Ephesians 3:12 has this amazing statement, “IN [Jesus] and THROUGH FAITH in Him, we can approach God with freedom and confidence.”
Why is this true? Let me tell you a story about something that happened when I visited a friend of mine. When I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell, I immediately knew I was in trouble. A horrible barking and snarling erupted on the other side of the door. I could hear it boiling down the hallway to the door and could hear the slam as the dog crashed into the door and began clawing and growing on the other side of the door. I could see his shadow through a small gap between the door and the threshold. It was if he was trying to get to me under the door. I was seriously contemplated beating a hasty retreat.
Suddenly I heard my friend’s voice give a one syllable command to the dog and the barking stopped. The door swing open and I could see the dog snarling, held back by my friend’s grip on its collar.
“I… I.. I… can c – c – c – ome back another time,” I stammered, staring at the curled lip and snapping teeth of the still growling dog.
“No problem,” my friend assured me, “just do as I do,” bending squatting low by the dog. I followed his cue and also squatted low to be on the same level as his dog (still snarling). My friend reached around and shook my hand with his left hand. He then kind of stroked my arm, I guess to show the dog I meant no harm and I was a friend. Then he reached down to my hand and suggested I reach out to the dog and let him sniff me.
Sure that I would come back short a finger, I offered my hand to the dog to smell. The dog’s ears perked back up, he started wagging his tail and then licked my hand! Amazing!
When we stood back up, the dog was transformed, from being my enemy to accepting me as a guest in the house. I couldn’t stop commenting on it to my friend. “Dude, what made the difference? He likes me. That was amazing!”
My friend was grinning from ear to ear and looked like he might bust out laughing. “What’s so funny?” My friend confided, “He doesn’t like you, he likes me! I just rubbed my scent on your arm and hand when I greeted you. When he smelled your hand, he actually smelled my scent and decided that you were safe ’cause you smelled like me.”
This illustrates well what happened for us at the cross. “We may approach God with freedom and confidence” because Jesus has embraced us, covering us with His blood (his scent) so that we may enter His house as a friend and not an intruder.
Don’t ever think we can approach God on our own. The wrath of God would tear us alive, just as my friend’s guard dog would have if I entered his house on my own. But “IN HIM AND THROUGH FAITH IN HIM” we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and may enter without fear.
That is the meaning of Romans 5:1-2—Therefore, we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
When you stand before God, He will ask you, “Why should I let you into my heavens?” How will you answer Him?
There are hundreds of wrong answers, but only one right one. We could plead church attendance, helping other people, teaching Sunday school, volunteer work with the homeless, giving money to the church, etc. But that would never be good enough to win entrance into the Father’s house. Even Mother Theresa who sacrificed her life to help the desperately poor in India knew she needed a Savior.
Jesus said, “I am the Way, I am the truth, I am the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NIV) Later in the New Testament it’s described this way, “For Christ died for sins, once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV)
It is IN JESUS and THROUGH FAITH in Jesus that we may approach God with freedom and confidence.