2 Chronicles 19:2-3 says “And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.”
Jehoshaphat had lived an upright life as king; he’d torn down many of the pagan places of worship and reinstated the priests of Levi. But in a moment of blindness he’d hitched his wagon to Ahab, corrupt king of Israel. Jehu was sent in this verse to slap him on the wrist, but notice the wording used: “therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.” Wrath from God for his blind following.
There’s two critical lessons in this:
1. Sin is sin, regardless of ignorance. The evil here wasn’t in helping Ahab, but in not knowing or seeing who Ahab was before doing it. The prophet Micaiah had been asked if the battle was righteous and he said it was not, but on went Jehoshaphat anyway. There is sin in lack of discernment.
2. God’s grace has always existed. You could call it mercy that Jehoshaphat wasn’t punished, but it went further; the Lord continued to bless him after this. That’s grace, and is critical to understand this point; as I said in my last post, God’s gave is often misunderstood and reassigned to be His mercy by people who miss His blessings and count them as somehow earned.
These two points are critical to understanding the Salvation brought us by Christ.
There is nothing — not one thing — you can do to earn Salvation. Sin is in your nature and despite your best efforts you can find righteousness no more than you can find gold at the end of the rainbow. You are not living an upright life; you may live less evil than some, but “less sinful” is about as important a distinction as “less dead”. You are made from corrupt earth and every instinct in you is an affront to God because it’s ultimately selfish. That’s actually a good thing!
Why? Because of the second point: Grace is only grace because it is completely unearned. Grace is called grace because it is given unfairly to the undeserving. Christ died for all. All Jews? No. All Christians? No. All. By His words He came that none should perish. His atonement was, and is, whole and perfect.
Does that mean there is no Hell? No, because while you cannot earn salvation, it does require acceptance. A gift can only be a gift if it is accepted. Christ’s gift of grace must be taken willingly. Jehoshaphat could easily have thrown himself into blind despair that the Lord was wroth with him. He didn’t. He continued to trust and Love God and accept His grace despite knowledge of his sinful nature. He did it without any knowledge of exactly what he was doing; he knew only that he should follow the Lord with all his heart.
How much easier, then, for us? For we who were granted the vision of Christ on the cross and who simply have to say “Father, I see my hopelessly sinful nature, and I weep for the pain it causes You. I know I cannot overcome it, but I know Christ has lifted me above it. I accept Your grace and I Love You!”
There is so much corrupt belief in this world; that we must behave in a certain way for Him, that we are only saved if we do thing X, or don’t do thing Y. All of it is nonsense. Bowing to the Lord can bring you blessings, to be sure. Trying not to sin makes your great closer to Him and relieves your torture, but in no way do these things save you. That power is from Christ alone, and comes to every tongue that confesses Him. What comes after its completely beside the point; let Him save you and He will direct your steps, but until your dying day you will be a corrupt and fallen sinner. Accept that. Accept His grace. Your world will change forever, I promise you.