“Before the Throne of God Above” is a beautiful and classic hymn by Charitie Lees Bancroft. I love it when we sing hymns at church with contemporary songs (and yes, even the hymns without the modern twist).
My husband sang this hymn at church the Sunday morning of World Mental Health Day (October 10), which I did not realize at first. It just so happened I was supposed to lead this hymn, but I woke up with a fever and stayed home. As I watched the worship service online, the second verse really ministered to me.
“When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within…” As someone with ADHD, I sometimes experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. Hearing these words reminded me that feelings are not good or bad; they are just feelings.
To experience feelings and emotions is a characteristic of God that He has given us, allowing us to experience life more deeply. In moments of darkness, feeling hopelessness or fear, the enemy will shout a lot of lies to bury me even deeper in that darkness. Sometimes it is hard to remember that they are just that: lies. It is in these moments that I desperately need to remember the words of Truth we find through Jesus Christ.
“…Upward I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin.” It can be hard to remember that simply because I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, my past does not have a hold of me anymore, nor do the problems of today. I am not who I was; I am a new creation in Christ. This is not because I was supernaturally changed overnight; it is because Christ is good and perfect, and now I know him, so my identity is now Him. Oh, how I need these reminders daily.
Paul tells us in Romans 7:21-25 (ESV):
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
I read this chapter during my Bible study time the next day, and it just reinforced what I had already been thinking about. Evil always lies close at hand, ready to devour the people of God. I feel that war raging against the law of my mind and the sin in my bones.
But Christ has delivered me! I cling to Him when despair looms and the enemy tries to hold past guilts over my head. There is no more guilt, no condemnation in Christ, for He has made an end to all my sin.
“Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free…” Ok, this line is just good. See what they did there? With the “sinless” and “sinful?” Yeah. I just love that. I had been repeating this line to myself in the days leading up to that Sunday, because while the poet in me loves the parallel, the incredible truth of that statement fills my heart with longing for God, remembering the price Jesus paid.
FREE. I am free. Free from my past, free from my shame, free from my sin, free from death, free from darkness. I am no longer chained to my flesh, in bondage to my feelings or my thoughts. I can live life abundantly and in freedom through Christ.
“For God the Just is satisfied; to look on Him and pardon me.” I love the visual of “to look on Him” and its literal and metaphorical meaning. It reminds me of Moses lifting the bronze snake in Numbers 21. When I look to Christ, God pardons me; because I am in Christ, God looks at me and sees Christ. God is gracious, but God is also just. The consequences of my sin are paid for by Christ’s death and resurrection. God is holy and can only be surrounded by that which is holy, so when I look to Christ, God looks at me and sees holiness.
Romans 3:20-30 (CSB) summarizes it in this way:
“For no one will be justified in (God’s) sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law…The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as the mercy seat by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint, God passed over the sins previously committed. God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just and justify the one who has faith in Jesus… For we conclude that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law…since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”
The Lord has reminded me several times in the last couple weeks in several different ways that my mind is renewed and transformed by Him; I can live life abundantly in the ensuing freedom I receive in Christ. All I need is to abide in Him.
So, I will now be reminding myself to stand on the promises of God that I so easily forget when my mind entangles me or I have a hard time believing when the enemy lies to me.
Simple, but easily forgotten in practice.
Supernatural, but strived towards by works.
Beautiful, but heart-wrenching.
I’m just in awe of Jesus whenever I take a moment to reframe my mind by looking only to Him, sitting before the throne of God, which is exactly where I should be.