(Originally posted on the Bibles for America Blog)
The world today is full of troubles—wars, environmental crises, senseless violence, economic uncertainty, troubling new viruses, social upheaval. When you look at the chaos around the globe it can make you wonder, Does God have a plan? Why did He create everything? And if He does have a plan, how do we fit into it?
In this post, we’ll look at verses from both the Old and New Testaments, along with some key notes from the Recovery Version, to find the answers to these pressing questions.
God is a God of purpose
The Bible shows us that God never does anything aimlessly. He always acts intentionally, with a plan in mind. For instance, Revelation 4:11 says:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, for You have created all things, and because of Your will they were, and were created.”
This verse makes it clear not only that God has a will, but that He created all things because of His will.
Now let’s read Ephesians 1:11:
“In whom also we were designated as an inheritance, having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
Here the words purpose, counsel, and will indicate to us that God is a God of purpose.
From just these two verses, we can see that God wants something. And to obtain what He desires, God has a plan and works everything according to the counsel of His will.
God’s creation of man
Now that we’ve seen that God created everything because of His will, let’s consider God’s creation, especially His creation of man.
Genesis 1 tells us that when God created the heavens and the earth, He simply spoke. God said, “Let there be,” and things came into being, including light, dry land, plants, light-bearers (the sun, moon, and stars), sea creatures, birds, and animals. God was happy with what He created. The Bible tells us God saw it was good.
Then God came to the peak of His work of creation: man. In Genesis 1:26, the Bible records for the first time God’s thought concerning the man He would create:
“And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”
God wanted to make man in a unique way: in His image and according to His likeness. Since God has a mind, emotion, and will, He wanted man to have a mind, emotion, and will.
He also wanted to make man according to His likeness, that is, to resemble Him. For example, when you look at a photograph of a person, you see the likeness of that person. God wanted man to be according to His own likeness.
Then, instead of simply saying, “Let there be man,” God created man in a very intentional way. Genesis 2:7 says:
“Jehovah God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”
In addition to creating man in His own image and according to His likeness, God also made man with a distinctive feature: the human spirit. Zechariah 12:1 says:
“Thus declares Jehovah, who stretches forth the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth and forms the spirit of man within him.”
The human spirit is so special that God’s Word places it on the same level as the creation of the heavens and the earth! That’s because the spirit of man enables man to contact, receive, and contain God.
No wonder after God created the heavens, the earth, and finally man, Genesis 1:31 says this:
“And God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
Only after man was created did God look upon all His creation as not just good but very good. God was happy with all He created, especially man.
God’s plan for mankind
God already had myriads of angels to worship and serve Him. What was in His heart for mankind was something different.
In God’s heart was the deep desire to enter into the human beings that He created with such thought and care. He wanted us to receive Him so He could be joined to us. God wanted to share His life with us and live in us. In such an intimate relationship, God would be everything to us. He would live together with us, and we would be one with Him.
And because we were created in God’s image and according to His likeness, by being filled with Him, God would be manifested and expressed through us and with us. Simply put, this is God’s plan.
The fall of mankind
We’ve seen how God created man according to His plan in a wonderful way. But in this universe, God has an enemy, Satan. Satan hates God, and he hates man because man will fulfil God’s desire. So Satan seized the opportunity and tempted man into disobeying God. Instead of receiving the life of God as God intended, man took in the evil nature of Satan. Because of that, all mankind was polluted by sin and separated from God. This corruption has been the source of all the vicious evil in the world throughout all of human history.
But nothing can deter God from carrying out His plan with mankind! In His wisdom, God Himself became a man, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. He took care of the problem between the righteous God and sinful mankind. Because the redemption Jesus accomplished is thoroughly effective, God’s plan can be fulfilled with everyone who believes in Jesus.
God’s plan and our life as believers
As believers in Jesus Christ, when we received Him as our Savior a number of wonderful things happened to us. We were forgiven of our sins and saved from eternal judgment. And what’s more, Christ came to live in our spirit, our deepest part.
Now the Savior who loves us and died for us is no longer outside of us. First Corinthians 6:17 says:
“But He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit.”
Note 2 in the New Testament Recovery Version on one spirit explains the amazing meaning of this verse:
“This indicates the mingling of the Lord as the Spirit with our spirit. Our spirit has been regenerated by the Spirit of God (John 3:6), who is now in us (v. 19) and is one with our spirit (Rom. 8:16). This is the realization of the Lord, who became the life-giving Spirit through resurrection (15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17) and who is now with our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22). This mingled spirit is often referred to in Paul’s Epistles, e.g., in Rom. 8:4-6.”
First Corinthians 15:45, referenced above, says:
“So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul’; the last Adam [Christ] became a life-giving Spirit.”
Now as the Spirit the Lord is more than near to us. His Spirit and our spirit are mingled as one. This brings us into the most intimate relationship with the Lord.
God’s great plan for every one of us is that we would know Him not merely objectively as our Creator God, but subjectively as the One who saved us and came to live in us.
It’s because He lives within us that we can know Him in a personal and experiential way. He can speak to us inwardly and we can fellowship with Him. We can enjoy Him as He walks with us, supplies us, comforts us, and supports us all the time. At any moment, we can contact and experience Him in our spirit.
How God fills us
It’s an astounding fact that the Lord is now living in our spirit, and we can experience Him at any time. But He doesn’t want to stay confined to our spirit. He wants to fill us by spreading out from our spirit into our whole being. As He fills us with Himself, He can be expressed through us.
We see this in 1 Thessalonians 5:23:
“And the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Our being is composed of our spirit, our soul, and our body. God wants to sanctify us wholly, that is, in every part.
Note 5 in the New Testament Recovery Version on this verse is enlightening and includes references to some key verses, which we encourage you to read. The note helps us see how God works to sanctify us wholly. The first section of the note defines our spirit, soul, and body:
“This word strongly indicates that man is of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. The spirit as our inmost part is the inner organ, possessing God-consciousness, that we may contact God (John 4:24; Rom. 1:9). The soul is our very self (cf. Matt. 16:26; Luke 9:25), a medium between our spirit and our body, possessing self-consciousness, that we may have our personality. The body as our external part is the outer organ, possessing world-consciousness, that we may contact the material world. The body contains the soul, and the soul is the vessel that contains the spirit. In the spirit, God as the Spirit dwells; in the soul, our self dwells; and in the body, the physical senses dwell.”
Then the second section explains how God sanctifies each part:
“God sanctifies us, first, by taking possession of our spirit through regeneration (John 3:5-6); second, by spreading Himself as the life-giving Spirit from our spirit into our soul to saturate and transform our soul (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18); and last, by enlivening our mortal body through our soul (Rom. 8:11, 13) and transfiguring our body by His life power (Phil. 3:21).”
Our daily Christian life
Our life as believers in Christ is one of experiencing and enjoying the Lord who dwells in our spirit. In a loving and intimate relationship with Christ, we can know Him and experience Him as everything to us.
We can maintain our fellowship with the Lord by praying to Him, feeding on His Word, obeying Him when He speaks to us about any matter in our daily life, and confessing any sin He makes us aware of. As we do this, He has the opportunity to grow in us and spread from our spirit into every part of our soul; eventually, He’ll even enliven our body. By being fully saturated with Him this way, we redeemed and regenerated human beings created in God’s image and according to His likeness together will become His expression in this universe for His glory.
This is why God created all things, and this is His plan for every human being. God desires all men to be saved so they can be part of His wonderful plan.
Seeing God’s plan will revolutionize the way we view the world and humanity. Nothing is happening in a random way. His enemy is still at work inciting chaos and trying to keep people away from God. But God, who is far greater, is operating in many ways to save people and bring them back to His original plan. This view will be a solid foundation for our Christian life and even help us tell others about God’s plan for them.
The subject of God’s purpose and plan is great and profound and has many aspects. We’ve only touched upon it briefly in this post. For a more detailed view, you can download The Economy of God here and start by reading chapter 1.
And if you live in Australia, you can order a free copy of the New Testament Recovery Version here so you can read all the New Testament verses we mentioned in this post and their accompanying notes and verse references.
When we first repented to God and received Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we were forgiven of all our sins, and peace flooded our hearts. And God’s Word assures us that our salvation is for all eternity and can never be undone.
But although we’re saved, we know from our personal experience this doesn’t mean we’re immune to sin. We still sin after experiencing salvation, despite our best efforts. So what should we do when we sin after being saved? The Word of God tells us that we should confess our sins to the Lord.
Confessing to God the sins we commit after we’re saved is absolutely critical for our life as a Christian. In this post, we’ll cover why we need to confess our sins, what it means to confess, how to confess, and the results of confessing.
Why we need to confess: Sin breaks our fellowship with the Lord
Our God is a God of love, but He’s also holy and righteous. God can’t tolerate sin, so the sins we commit create a barrier between us and Him and interrupt our fellowship with Him.
We can see this even in our human relationships. Let’s say you offend your friend by saying something hurtful, and you never apologise. You both feel there’s a rift between you, but until you clear the air by apologising, you simply can’t be at ease in each other’s presence.
This is even more true when it comes to our relationship with the Lord. When we commit a sin, we sense in our conscience that we’ve offended the Lord. The ease and sweetness of our relationship is lost. We’ve trespassed against Him, and that sin is now a barrier between us, disrupting our fellowship with Him.
So we need to confess our sins to the Lord because even though our salvation is eternal and we can never lose it, our sins cause our fellowship with God to be broken.
What it means to confess: To admit, to acknowledge our sin
First of all, how do we know when we’ve sinned? As 1 John 1:5 tells us, “God is light.” So when God shines on us, He exposes our sins and failures, and we become conscious of them. The resulting sense of guilt in our conscience is uncompromising and can’t be quelled by any reasoning or excuse on our side. Instead of explaining our sin away or trying to cover it up, we should acknowledge the sins God shines on and ask for His forgiveness.
Psalm 32:5 gives us a good example of this. The psalmist said, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, I will confess my transgressions to Jehovah. Then You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”
These verses help us see that confessing our sins to God means acknowledging them and not trying to cover them up, but admitting them to the Lord. We agree with God’s judgment and say, “Yes, Lord, that is sin.”
How to confess: Praying to the Lord as soon as we realise we’ve sinned
When we realise we’ve sinned and offended the Lord, we need to confess. But how do we do this?
We confess our sins in prayer to God. Whether it’s a small transgression or one that’s more serious, when the Lord makes us aware of it in our conscience, we must immediately admit our sin to Him in prayer and ask for His forgiveness.
You don’t need to go to a certain place, tell a particular person, or wait for a special time to confess your sins. No matter where you are, as soon as you are conscious of your sins, you can confess them directly to the Lord by praying to Him. Since He’s living in your spirit, you can pray to Him at any time to confess your sins.
A practical example
Let’s say there’s a stock of notepads and pens at your workplace. Since they’re just the kind you like, you help yourself to a few for personal use at home. In the morning, as you turn your heart to the Lord to spend time with Him, He shines on you and convicts your conscience that you’ve taken something that doesn’t belong to you. At this point, you could reason, “The office has plenty of those things; they’ll never be missed.” Or you can go along with the feeling of conviction and guilt in your conscience and agree with the Lord that what you did was wrong.
When you decide to go along with the Lord, you can immediately pray to Him, “Yes, Lord, You’re right; I’ve sinned. I confess that I took those things. I’m sorry. Forgive me, Lord. Thank You for shedding Your precious blood to take away my sin.”
Notice that this simple prayer doesn’t include a promise to do better. That isn’t required for confession. What is required is acknowledging your sin to the Lord and declaring your faith in His work on the cross.
Of course, in this example, after you confess to the Lord you should also return the items to your workplace and not keep them.
The sin in this example might seem small, even insignificant. But in principle, all sins—big or small—must be confessed, since any sin interrupts our fellowship with God.
The result of confession: Forgiveness and cleansing
In 1 John 1:9, a verse written by the apostle John to believers, we see the result of confessing our sins:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If we confess, the result is that we are forgiven and cleansed.
Note 2 on this verse in the New Testament Recovery Version explains what it means for God to be faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins:
“God is faithful in His word (v. 10) and righteous in the blood of Jesus His Son (v. 7). His word is the word of the truth of His gospel (Eph. 1:13), which tells us that He will forgive us our sins because of Christ (Acts 10:43); and the blood of Christ has fulfilled His righteous requirements that He might forgive us our sins (Matt. 26:28). If we confess our sins, He, according to His word and based on the redemption through the blood of Jesus, forgives us because He must be faithful in His word and righteous in the blood of Jesus; otherwise, He would be unfaithful and unrighteous. Our confession is needed for His forgiveness. Such forgiveness of God, which is for the restoration of our fellowship with Him, is conditional; it depends on our confession.”
By confessing our sins, we receive forgiveness—a forgiveness solidly based on God’s righteousness.
Furthermore, note 3 on the same verse explains what it means for Him to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness”:
“To forgive us is to release us from the offense of our sins, whereas to cleanse us is to wash us from the stain of our unrighteousness.”
By confessing our sins, we’re forgiven and cleansed, and our fellowship with the Lord is fully restored because the obstacle of our sin is removed. Praise the Lord!