The Necessity of Rejection
W4R #144 Reed DePace January 29, 2019
A Weekly Prayer Devotional Seeking God
to Pour Out His Spirit in Revival on Us[*]
Rejection is Essential
True faith in Christ must include rejection. If it doesn’t then there is no true salvation present. The failure to reckon with the necessity of rejection is harming lots of would be Christ-followers.
The rise of the nones in America, many from Christian backgrounds, signals a rejection of the weak gospel found in our churches. This is the gospel that offends no one, but offers a path to human flourishing, one that is worldly at best. Even among the 65% of Americans still identifying as Christians the necessity of rejection is not recognized. Rejoicing in a libertine gospel (say the sinner’s prayer and don’t worry about how you live), or laboring under the legalist gospel (say the sinner’s prayer, now try real hard to make sure you don’t lose it), such folks are still experiencing the guilt that leads them to sleepless nights and fretful days.
O LORD, why do you reject me? Why do you turn your face from me? I have been sick and close to death since my youth. I stand helpless and desperate before your terrors. Your fierce anger has overwhelmed me. Your terrors have paralyzed me. They swirl around me like floodwaters all day long. They have engulfed me completely. (Ps 88:14-17 NLT)
True faith, the only kind that comes when the Spirit causes you to be born again, always and necessarily includes rejection. The Bible stresses three manners in which rejection must be understood for Spirit-regeneration to be present: 1) we are rejected, 2) we were rejected, and 3) we must reject.
We ARE Rejected
The necessity of rejection begins with this: God rejects all of us because we are rebels against him. Yes, the words “sin” and “sinner” are used in most churches. But these words are rarely set in their biblical context. When they are, it leads us to a whole different understanding of just – how – much - God - rejects us in our sin:
O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. … [The Lord] watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth. The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence. (Ps 5:4-5 11:4-5)
Many professing faith in Christ (i.e., Christians) have never been blessed by the first use of God’s law:
Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. (Rom 7:7a emphasis added)
The Ten Commandments reveal the depths of our wickedness. They reveal, in other words, why God rejects us, utterly and completely. We’ve not used God’s law in the way he intends, fearing people’s rejection if we tell them how God rejects them in their sin. The result is a weakened witness of a truncated and defective gospel, one that has no promise of the Spirit’s use to convert sinners!
We WERE Rejected
God rejects us in our sin so strongly that he describes it as hatred (Ps 26:5; 31:6). But there is also love. In the second manner of rejection’s necessity God’s love for us resolves itself in his rejection of his Son on the cross:
For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you [rejected me,] tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies? … My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? (Ps 43:2; 22:1)
On the cross God rejected his Son, making him the object of his hatred for our sin (2Co 5:21). Failing to understand this manner of rejection, many Christians still suffer under sin’s power: guilt! Through guilt, sin compels them to live the Christian life by the flesh, their self-effort, guaranteed to fail (Rom 8:2-11). When the Spirit brings true faith in regeneration, he not only convicts us that apart from Christ we ARE rejected. He also convinces us that now in Christ, our rejection is past, that is, we WERE rejected!
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)
We MUST Reject
Reckoning with these first two manners of rejection’s necessity leads us to the third: those professing faith in Jesus MUST reject sin! This is the law’s third use: Christians love what God loves, and hate what God hates:
Truly, I love your commands more than gold, even the finest gold. Each of your commandments is right. That is why I hate every false way. (Ps 119:127-128)
This hatred for sin must show itself in our battling against the remnants of sinful desire in us. Enlisted in Jesus’ army, we are to wage relentless war against remaining sin:
I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate. … But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power [seeks to re-enslave me] to the sin that is still within me. … For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. (Rom 7:14-15, 23; 8:13)
This is what many Christians are missing in their faith: they do not understand that they MUST reject what God hates or they are not saved. True faith from the Spirit in regeneration leads us to loath sin, in all its ways.
The failure to reckon with these three manners of rejection’s necessity leads to many Christians living stunted lives. Many never reckon with how deeply God rejects them in their sin. Many never reckon God’s rejection of Jesus in their place. Many do not reckon with how much they must reject sin. Their conversion is unclear. Their love for the world’s lusts continues. And guilt still rules their lives. They’re in danger of God’s final rejection:
But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars-- their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Rv 21:8)
This is a terrible situation. Many profess Christ, yet they’re not experiencing the three-fold rejection that marks true faith through the Spirit’s conversion. May we go to them and tell them of the necessity of rejection.
Dear Lord, we confess we are afraid of being rejected by the wrong person. We’re more afraid of our family/friend/neighbor/stranger’s rejection than we are yours. Forgive us and cleanse us through the one you rejected for us, Jesus. Then compel us to go and declare the good news of this threefold rejection.
Restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. Pour out Your Spirit in revival on us. To Your glory, together with Your Father and Your Spirit, we ask, Amen.
[*] This weekly prayer devotional focuses our attention on some aspect of our need for the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our church. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (Ps 85:6)? For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isa 44:3-4). Pick a 15 to 30-minute time-block in your schedule over the next week and use this devotional to focus your prayers. As you can, consider fasting from a meal and using that time to pray for revival in our church.