No one is as smugly confident as the sibling of a child who is being disciplined by their parent. If you have kids of your own, you’ve seen this for sure. If you don’t, maybe you’ve watched this dynamic play out in nephews and nieces, or perhaps you remember what it felt like in your own childhood.
There is usually a specific look on the face of the innocent child, a mixture of genuine pity and barely concealed satisfaction, like they know they shouldn’t be happy their sibling was caught, but at the same time justice is sweet. At least, it is when it happens to the other guy.
While gloating isn’t the ideal reaction to justice, confidence is a natural result of knowing that you’ve done nothing wrong. If you are innocent, you know you don’t have to live in fear of punishment. Proverbs 28 describes it this way: “The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion” (v. 1). Others might be scrambling to cover their tracks or to justify their actions, but you don’t need to. You have nothing to fear and nothing to hide.
There are two potential problems with this innocence-equals-confidence connection though. First, we live in a broken world where justice is not always carried out properly. There is no absolute guarantee that our innocence will be upheld. Sometimes we are falsely accused or unjustly treated. This is the exception though. And even when it happens, at least we have a clear conscience before God and ourselves, which should count for a lot. The second problem is more common: we are rarely innocent. At least, not completely. Maybe we do what’s right in one area, but we mess up in two other areas. This is a real problem because, since we are painfully aware of our imperfection, we can never feel completely confident.
This is where our righteousness in Christ makes all the difference. We can’t stand confidently and boldly on our own righteousness, but we can stand on his righteousness. God’s declaration that we are holy, righteous, and innocent in Christ infuses us with true confidence. That is why the writer of Hebrews reminded us to “hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory” (3:6).
We already know that this righteousness doesn’t give us a license to sin freely. The reason sin is sin is because it hurts people, whether the sinner or those around them—and that’s why God’s love won’t tolerate it. But if we do sin, we don’t have to run and hide. We aren’t in danger of being kicked out of God’s family or rejected by heaven. Our belonging is found and secured in Jesus.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:15–16)
The “high priest” here is Jesus, of course. The writer of Hebrews was saying that Jesus knows our weaknesses because he walked the same planet we do. He is in heaven right now, listening to our prayers. So when we come before God in our time of need, we are met with mercy and grace, not judgment or rejection.
We want to leave you with this final thought: our boldness to come before God should be reflected in our boldness in life. Spiritual confidence will produce natural confidence, if we let it. This isn’t about arrogance or a better-than-thou attitude that religion can too easily breed. Rather, it’s the quiet confidence that comes from knowing our past, present, and future are in God’s hands, and they are safe there.
Julianna Bevere is a co-founder of SonsAndDaughters.tv and she desires to see the sons and daughters of God rise to their potential so that their impact reverberates long after their final breath. Julianna is deeply in love with her husband, Addison, and together they have four adorable offspring—Asher (12), Sophia (10), Elizabeth (7), and Augustus (5). Julianna and her family live in Colorado Springs, but she’ll always be a Texan at heart.