“The knowledge of the glory of God must be promising if it is to carry power. We must know it and believe that we are included—that the promises are ours, that the call is to us” (John Piper)
Life shakes us up. It smacks us with wind and waves. It might be a trial, suffering, a personal temptation, dealing with guilt and shame, struggling with something like anxiety or fear, or the discouraging howls of an extended spiritual wilderness. When these storms blow hard, what keeps us upright? What sustains and steadies us?
God’s promises have proven to be the rock-solid foundation I need. In 2 Peter 1:3-4, the Apostle Peter emphasizes the power for godliness in any situation coming through the knowledge of God and the promises of God. God reveals Himself to us as a promise-making God and we rely on Him as a promise-keeping God.
Every promise of God is signed, sealed, and delivered to the believer because they are in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). Whenever God acts on our behalf or strengthens us for any good work He calls us to do, He does so through His promises. The promises of God are sufficient to satisfy us and sustain us.
Here are four reasons we need God’s promises in our day-to-day Christian lives.
1) We Gravitate Towards Performance
By (fallen) nature, we try to prove ourselves to God, to others, or even to ourselves. We staple together who we are (including our worth, value, and significance) with what we contribute. Who am I is often measured by what I do. This shows up in how we talk about ourselves to others but also in how we relate to God. When the whole world around us operates on a performance and works-based economy, it’s hard to fully enter into and live from a promise and grace-based economy. It’s why many Christians so quickly, even if subconsciously, slip from salvation by grace to sanctification by works.
Even if we’re not trying to justify ourselves through works, we attempt to pay God back or earn things from Him through our little efforts. As you know by experience, that never pays off. But we return to this haunting lie that God views me and relates to me based on how good or bad I am.
The gospel redirects us from a life driven by our performance to a life of resting in God’s promises. Promises remind us that through Christ we already have everything we need as a free gift and nothing needs to be earned or paid for by us. We are fully and forever accepted by our Father because Jesus did all the good works we needed and shares them with us through his imputed righteousness. Living by promises reminds us we can’t perform perfectly before God or secure his favor, and we don’t need to because Jesus already did so for us through his life, death, and resurrection.
We live by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone not just at salvation but daily for growing and enduring. The more we hold on to promises as a rhythm of life, the more our fingers loosen their grip on performance-based living as the means by which our relationship with God stands or falls. Gracious promises free us from performance-based living that crushes us.
2) We Neglect Available Resources
We regularly battle temptations and trials thinking we operate from a position of insufficient resources, but promises remind us we live out of Christ’s sufficiency and fullness for us. We face a struggle, a recurring temptation, or an unwelcome trial and all we see is our own helplessness, weakness, and emptiness. It’s overwhelming when we compare the mountains we face with the limits of our own skills, strengths, and stamina. When we look within, we realize we’re in trouble and we give way to fear, anxiety, or discouragement.
The problem is we’re only looking in the small, empty cupboards of our own resources and neglecting the gigantic, fully-stocked pantry of God’s resources just waiting to be used. Promises remind us there is great provision awaiting us, but it’s not from us.
Promises get our eyes off of self. They bring a hand to our chin, lifting our eyes upwards to see the glory and grandeur of God who is ready to step in and step up on our behalf. Promises place us under the power of God, the resources of God, the blessings of God, and the care of God. Anything we might lack on our own is more than made up for by the generous and gracious promises of God.
Read the Bible and grab onto what God tells us He is like and what He will do. The only way we can endure trials, resist temptation, love sacrificially, and live with joy is by living out of the fullness of God’s resources. The Bible is like the PEZ dispenser of beautiful and empowering promises given in Christ. We turn page after page of Scripture and out pops promise after promise for us. Cling to them. Turn to them. Depend on them.
3) We Think About God Wrong
We all too often believe God could not love us or be for us as we are today. We think of God and then relate wrongly to God out of fear, unbelief, and dark shadows cast from our earthly relationships. We project how others have thought of us and treated us onto God. Because of this, we need promises convincing us that God’s great, Fatherly love is set on us in Christ.
The nagging thought in our mind is I’m too messy, too sinful, too stubborn, too slow to grow, and therefore, surely God cannot love or be happy with me. We think He might love and approve of a better version of us, one that has their act together. Most of the time, I’m not even happy with where I’m at spiritually, so I assume there’s no way God can be pleased with me. For many of us, those are the pesky, soul-sapping thoughts that cause us to pull away from God rather than drawing near.
When you read your New Testament, it becomes clear again and again that while God does want us to grow and mature, the promise is that in Christ we are forgiven, cleansed, embraced, favored, adopted, and loved by our Father. And that’s the today me; the struggling, embarrassing, slow to grow, messed up me that isn’t all that lovable. God’s promises to love us, care for us, draw near, comfort, provide, and even to delight in us apply to us in Christ “as is,” meaning as we are today not because of who we hope to be one day.
It’s these gospel-promises that help us see God clearly, rightly, and as a God so much different than any other person we’ve known. Gospel-promises change our perspective and posture towards God from fear and intimidation because they unveil His beauty, kindness, mercy, goodness, and love.
Throughout the New Testament, God goes out of his way to convince us that in Christ we are completely and powerfully loved, out of the Father’s grace not because of the child’s goodness. God isn’t waiting for you on the other side of whatever you’re going through today or in this season. He is with you. He cares for you. His love is set upon you right where you are. He wants more for you but He’s not demanding more from you. Promises assure us of these truths when our thinking leads us astray.
4) We Listen to Lies
We listen to the condemning lies of our Accuser when we should listen to the life-giving promises of our Advocate. Ever since the Garden, Satan has whispered into our ears things about God. “God did not actually say this.” “God is trying to limit you and keep you from becoming happy or becoming like Him.”
Satan not only whispers lies about God but he holds out empty, false promises to us. “You will become like God.” “You’ll be happy or fulfilled if you do this.” His promise always fail, and then after we’ve fallen for them (again) he quickly returns with condemning lies. “God could not accept you. Look at what you’ve done. You’ll never change. Everyone is disappointed in you.” Even though it only leads to our destruction, we listen to the lies of our Accuser.
Promises help us silence those lies so we hear the true, burden-lifting and life-giving promises of our great Advocate. Jesus always tells us what is true, whereas our Enemy sits on a throne of lies. Jesus always delivers on his promises, where sin and Satan are full of shiny, empty promises that never pay off. Jesus tells us all the blessings and promises we have in him. Jesus assures us he will never leave us, and that in him, we have what we need.
The Accuser seeks our harm with his empty threats but the Advocates seeks our good with his strong promises. The Accuser wants us to think about the “what if’s,” the “what could be,” the way we feel or how things “seem.” The Advocate pushes the theoretical to the side so we plant our feet on what is true, and who God is and will be for us.
God’s powerful promises crush my unbelief, doubt, and fear. Hear them. Stop listening to lies and start speaking the truth of God’s promises. When bombarded with lies, battle with the sword of Scripture through God’s precious promises.
In the dark places of our weakness, fears, and unbelief we need the light of God’s good, abounding, soul-sustaining, and life-giving promises. Through God’s promises we know both who God is and what He’s told us He will do for us. God sustains and strengthens us in every situation by His promises. Get in the Word to look for them, treasure them, store them up, and live on them.