Little Johnny Talks With God

A story about believing God in faith, then falling to religion, and back to grace. 

Two years ago little Johnny heard a sermon calling him to “come to God just as he was and place his faith in Jesus alone as his savior”. He was told that in his sinful state he was dead in Adam and separated from God, but through faith in Christ, the Bible promised that God would save him from his sins and make him a new creation. The preacher said, “come as you are, Christ died for the ungodly”. Johnny heard and believed the gospel message.

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Little Johnny accepted Christ and promised that he would serve Him all the days of his life. For little Johnny, this was the happiest day he’d ever experienced. After all, he was finally made right with God, through faith. Something amazing happened to little Johnny…His desires were all new. He no longer enjoyed being in his sin. Love poured out of him. Wow, God really did something amazing – just like the bible said.

As time went on little Johnny realized that he still struggled with sin and he couldn’t understand why he sometimes gave in to the very thing he now hated. He thought “how could a true follower of Christ still sin”. Then the religious pressure kicked in from some friends. He was told that his struggles were breaking his fellowship with God. He was told God wasn’t hearing his prayers and that God would punish him for his sin. He was told he was only enjoying positional forgiveness. But there was another problem.  Little Johnny could not find this teaching in scripture. Well, he could if tried hard enough, but he’d have to make a man-made theology out of a few passages to get there because there was not a single verse that actually said such things. Johnny’s struggle was he wanted to trust Jesus as his means of righteousness but somewhere along the line religion changed the game and made his behavior his mean of righteousness.   So in despair and hungry for answers, he looked to God for answers.

LITTLE JOHNNY: God, I have been struggling with sin and I can’t seem to completely stop. Please don’t leave my presence.
GOD: I will never leave you or forsake you. I told you that in Hebrews 13:5.

LITTLE JOHNNY:  I know you said that God, but you don’t understand. I sinned against you.
GOD: My son died for your sins, Johnny. I told you that in scripture.

LITTLE JOHNNY: Yea, I know He died for my sins, but you don’t understand I committed the same sin over and over, and I’m not even 100% sure I won’t struggle with it again.
GOD: Johnny, as far as the East is from the West I have washed all your sins away, and I told you that in Psalm 103:12.This promise was not just for when you sinned one time. I hate sin, and I want you to avoid it because you’re not made for sin and it will never satisfy you. But when you stumble, and you will stumble in many ways, I will keep washing it away.

LITTLE JOHNNY: But you don’t understand, I have not fully repented of my sins. My friends tell me if I have not fully repented then my fellowship is broken with you.
GOD: Just because they said it doesn’t make it true. I never said that. I hate sin, and I don’t want you to be tangled up in it, but I told you in Hebrews 8:12 that I would never again remember your sins and lawless deeds. Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY: I kind of believe you, but everyone tells me that’s just making excuses for my sins. They call it a license to sin or something like that.
GOD: What bible verse does that come from Johnny? It’s not my word. My word told you in Colossians 2:14 that I canceled the charges against you and removed it from the record books. Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY: Yes, but I’m afraid because I know we still need to be punished for our sins. Everyone knows that.
GOD: My Son was punished in your place. Do not fear. I told you in 1 John 4:18 that there is no fear in love because love casts out all fear, because fear involves punishment. Johnny, there are earthly consequences for sin and I care deeply when you suffer from it, but you need to know that the reason I want you to avoid sin isn’t so you can avoid my punishment. I want you to avoid sin because I love you and I hate to see it leave you empty and rob you of your true source of joy. You are not the sum total of your sins. You are the righteousness of God – and that doesn’t change when you sin. Your righteousness is about my Son, not your perfect behavior.

LITTLE JOHNNY: Well I can’t tell people about that kind of grace because that sounds like I’m just saying you can do whatever you want and that God doesn’t care.
GOD: Johnny, I do care, and I care so much that I gave my only Son to die for your sin and so you could draw near to me. This religious double talk has caused you to think I forgive your sins unless you sin. But I told you in Romans 2:4 that it’s my kindness that leads you to repentance. Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY: Okay, but you also said in John 14 that “if anyone loves you they will keep your commands”.
GOD: Do you think those commands are laws? That’s human theology. Did you read the chapter before and after 14? In John 13:34 I told you about a new command I was giving and I said “love one another as I have loved you”, and then I clarified my commands in John 15:12 when I said “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

LITTLE JOHNNY: Okay, I can see how so much kindness and forgiveness would cause me to change. I mean who would not want to please someone that never holds a single thing against them? You couldn’t help but totally love someone that was that forgiving. But all my religious friends say we need the law as our moral guide.
GOD: Yes, they do say that don’t they? But I said in Romans 5:20 that the law was brought in that sin would INCREASE.  Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY: That’s not what you meant God. Everyone tells me the law shows us right from wrong. The law is holy and perfect and we need to obey it.
GOD: Why do you need the law? Don’t you trust Jesus to be your guide now? The law is holy and perfect, but the problem with the law is you, under it. The law never made anything perfect.  For that reason, I told you in Galatians 3:13 that Christ redeemed you from the law. Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY: God, Jesus Himself said I didn’t come to abolish the law. You should know that.
GOD: Johnny, why do you read isolated verses and miss the whole gospel message? My son also said He fulfilled that law and in Romans 8:2 I clearly told you that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”. Don’t you believe me? In Romans 7:6 I said you were released from the law. I also said in Hebrews 8:13 that I made the old covenant obsolete, and I even called it weak and useless in Hebrews 7:18 because it made nothing perfect.  Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY:  So if I’m totally and completely forgiven then what’s to keep me from just going out and breaking world records for sin? No one can handle all that freedom.
GOD: Well Johnny, I guess you might be right if the only thing I did was forgive your sins. After all, you’d just be the same evil person looking for new ways to sin. But you seem to be forgetting about the other part of the gospel. I told you in Colossians 2:12 that the old you were buried with Christ and the new has come. In Ezekiel 36:26 I said I removed your old heart, gave you a new one, then put my Spirit in you and gave you totally new desires. I made you new Johnny. Don’t you believe me?

LITTLE JOHNNY:  I guess I missed that. That explains the internal struggle I have when I sin. My new Spirit is waging war against the flesh (Gal 5:17). So if I have a new heart and new desires then why do I still sin?
GOD: Johnny, you are dead to sin (Romans 6:11), but sin is very much alive. The evil one works day and night to tempt you, mislead you, and he works very hard to accuse you and steal your joy from resting in the finished work of Christ. I want you to know this Johnny – the answer to overcoming sin is resting in Christ alone. If you look to the law for righteousness you will fail every time. By the standards of the law if you keep the entire lase and only stumble at one point you will be guilty it all – I told you this in James 2:10. Don’t water it down like religion does as they cherry-pick which laws they keep. By the law everyone will be destroyed because as I said in Galatians 3:10 “all that rely on the works of the law are under a curse and cursed is everyone who does not continue to do EVERYTHING written in the book of the law”. But if you trust in Jesus alone as your righteous then you will be saved and you can finally begin to battle against sin.  Johnny, I hate sin, but I love you, and even when you sin I don’t want you to look at fixing your behavior as your means to righteousness and closeness to Me. Just cast your eyes on my Son, and He will lead you to walk in the Spirit every time.

LITTLE JOHNNY: Wow God! Your burden is really light and your yoke is easy. I now understand what it means to rest in Christ. I believe you God!
GOD: Now go and sin no more. But know that if you do (and you will) that your sins have been (past tense) forgiven. Then get up, dust yourself off, and walk in the Spirit. Always remember that when it comes to righteousness it’s who you ARE, not who you are trying to be.  I love you son.

The takeaway from this story is that by one sacrifice we have been made perfect for all time – once for all (Hebrews 10:14). Nothing we ever do or don’t do can change that. We are not under two covenants (the old and the new). The old covenant was only given to Jews. Under the old covenant, the Jews tried to obtain righteousness through the law. Every one of them failed miserably. We only had one covenant with God – and that’s forgiveness by hearing and believing in faith about the finished work of Jesus.

[Romans 2:14] For when Gentiles who DO NOT HAVE THE LAW do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves

[Ephesians 2:12-13] remember that you were at that time separate from Christ,  excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

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