Jesus doesn't give you a clean slate - SPOTLIGHT
by Meredith Dixon
“Today is gonna be great!” I said excitedly to myself as I got up before the sun.
I pushed the green “go” button on the coffee maker, and sat down with my
Bible and journal in hand, ready to impress God and put on my best Christian
face for the day.
Read my Bible? Check.
Prayed for 30 minutes? Check
Posted a status of a Bible verse? Check
Scheduled to get coffee with someone hoping to talk with them about Jesus?
So there I was, soaking up the “wow-I- am-such- a-good- Christian-and- I-am-
ready-to- conquer-the- world!” feeling. I felt so worthy to enter His presence
and I knew He felt super proud of me for my hard work.
Well, I felt that way until I messed up.
I lost my temper.
I cheated on the test.
I ignored that annoying person.
I slipped into that age-old habit, the sin I felt like I just couldn’t shake.
In a millisecond, that on-top- of-the- world feeling faded and what felt like my
entire world came crashing down as I realized that I was not a “good
Christian” at all. I felt total defeat and I knew deep down that no matter how
hard I tried, I was never going to be where I wanted to.
In a moment of weakness, in a moment of fragility, gritting my teeth just
wasn’t good enough. And there I went, giving into sin again. I let myself down.
I let God down. And I just wasn’t worthy to walk into His presence.
So I gave up. And I ran to the only place that felt like I could hide: as far away
from God as possible (or so I thought).
I wish I could tell you of an exact day that I am thinking of as I write this. But
truly, this was the pattern of my life for months. For years. Honestly,
sometimes it still is.
So what is the issue here? Am I crazy? Am I just not as self-motivated as that
person who works at my church or that missionary who seems to constantly
be sharing the Gospel with so much joy and self-control?
That’s not it at all. Determination isn’t the issue. Self-control isn’t the issue.
Will power isn’t the issue.
The issue is this: I believe that Jesus has given me a clean slate, and that
couldn’t be further from the truth.
What is the Gospel?
If you would have asked me if I understood the Gospel from the time I was about 5 years old, I would have said yes.
As the years went on, I would not have just said yes. I would have given you a response that would have sounded very convincing and rooted deeply in scripture.
But the problem was, the words actually meant nothing to me.
I knew how to say the words, I even knew how to articulate them to others,
but I didn’t really know them. Yet alone believe them.
And I firmly believe that is because I was missing something huge. I was
missing something incredibly vital:
I was missing the second half of the Gospel.
If you were to ask anyone what they think the Gospel is, they would probably
respond with the most popular passage of all of scripture: John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes
in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV translation).
I think too often, we just read this verse and think “cool! He forgave me of my
sins. Now I have a clean slate and can go live for Him.”
Not so fast.
Our slate isn’t clean or empty at all. It’s dangerous to think so.
Our slate is actually full. It is brimming over. Overflowing.
Our slate is overflowing with Jesus’ perfect obedience and perfect record.
Not our own.
This is what makes the biggest difference in our lives. The difference between
living like orphans who have to earn our Savior’s love, or living as beloved
children of the King, through His grace alone.
Take 2 Corinthians 5:21, for example:
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that In Him we
might become the righteousness of God.” (ESV translation)
To me, this is the most overwhelming and mind-blowing verse in all of
The God of the universe who is without blemish (1 Peter 1:19), with no
unrighteousness in Him (Psalm 92:15), perfect (Matthew 5:48), just and
upright (Deuteronomy 32:4), and mighty in power, and whose understanding
has no limit (Psalm 147:5), actually became sin for me.
Without Christ, my righteous deeds are like filthy rags before the King (Isaiah
64:6), I am completely dead in my sin (Ephesians 2:1), and I go astray from
Him, running as far as I can (Isaiah 53:6).
Yet Jesus literally became the most sinful parts of me, so I could become His
very own righteousness.
This is the entire heart of the Gospel. This is the motivation behind every
second of our lives as Christians.
This is all summed up in one little and powerful Latin phrase, one of the key
phrases of the Reformation: “simul justus et peccator”.
Translated: simultaneously righteous, yet a sinner.
The late RC Sproul gave this little explanation of this phrase:
“In and of ourselves, under the analysis of God’s scrutiny, we still have sin;
we’re still sinners. But, by imputation and by faith in Jesus Christ, whose
righteousness is now transferred to our account, then we are considered just or
righteous. This is the very heart of the gospel.”- RC Sproul
I am a sinner. I feel this deeply all the time.
But this is not my identity. My identity is in Christ, as stated in Galatians
2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ
who lives within me.”
So this means that when I do mess up, I do not have to (in fact, I am told not
to) despair! Because my name isn’t my messed up. My name is Forgiven.
One of the favorite pastors and authors, Matt Chandler, puts it beautifully
in his book called The Explicit Gospel:
“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when
they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him,
because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not
predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his
― Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel
He puts it another way by saying “When you blow it, God still celebrates His
Son in you.”
The phrase His Son is key. It’s not that God says, “well ya blew it today, but
you did pretty okay yesterday so I’m gonna balance the two out give you a free
He says, “Meredith, you blew it today. You blew it yesterday. You will blow it tomorrow, and actually, you will blow it until the day you die. But I don’t look at you and primarily see your sin. I look at you and I see myself. And that is the one and only reason why you will ever be acceptable to me. Because I am acceptable to my Father, and my Father sees you in Me.”
How do I even actually live out of this knowledge? How do I live like my slate
is not just clean, but full?
It all starts with looking up. Look at Christ. Look at the finished work He has
done on your behalf, entirely on the basis of His grace and not your merit.
There is a quote by Robery Murray McCheyne so rich with truth that I always
run to when it feels like Satan is pointing his finger at me: “For every one look
at self, take ten looks at Christ.”
And rest. Abide in this finished work.
JD Greear, author of my all-time favorite Christian book called Gospel defines
abiding as “making my home in His love for me.”
What a beautiful picture. To make my home in His never-ending,
unconditional love. To make my home in the identity He has given me, in the
righteousness that He has imputed to me. After realizing this, how can we not
live our whole lives in obedience to Him?
Lord, help me live like my slate is brimming over. To remember every day that
the moment I open my eyes, I am fully accepted and completely forgiven. May
basking in this bring me to further joy and obedience for your glory. Amen.
About the Spotlight Writer
Meredith is a junior at The University of North Georgia and is currently studying Sociology. Meredith currently works at a foster home for abused and neglected teen girls and is very passionate about social work, youth ministry, coffee shops and reading.
You can find her on her instagram @_meredith_grace_dixon_ :)