One of our old favorite hymns is the beautiful, Just As I Am. This hymn was written by Charlotte Elliott in 1834 and has been a standard in many hymnals ever since. The lyrics portray the wretched condition of people in sin who are seeking relief. With all their guilt, with all their remorse, with all their sorrows, penitent sinners humbly come to the Lord for redemption. It is a song of hope which has long been used at the close of sermons to invite and urge sinners to respond to the gospel.
As wonderful as this great old hymn is, a recent adaptation of it has given even more power to its theme. In 2009 a talented songwriter added this refrain: “I come broken to be mended, I come wounded to be healed. I come desperate to be rescued, I come empty to be filled. I come guilty to be pardoned by the blood of Christ the Lamb, and I’m welcomed with open arms, Praise God, just as I am.”
This refrain captures the biblical truth of the penitent soul seeking redemption. We come to the Lord for salvation, because we are not able to save ourselves. We come to the Lord for salvation, because there is no other from whom we may receive it. This is what Peter said in Acts 4:12 — “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
We come, “just as I am”, but we come in order to be changed into someone better than we have been. We are broken by sin, and we come to the Lord to be mended as only He can do. We have been wounded by our sins and by life, and we come for the touch of His healing hand. We are desperate to be saved from our sins, and only He can rescue us from eternal condemnation. Our lives in sin are empty, no matter how much of the world’s goods we may possess, and only the Lord can fill us with the only thing of lasting value. We are guilty because of our sins, and we come to the Lord to receive pardon by the power of His blood, which was shed on Calvary to atone for the sins of the world.
The glorious bottom line is that we don’t have to clean up our act in order to come to the Lord. We come, just as we are, stained and dirty because of our sins, and the Lord takes us in that condition. He takes us, just as we are, in order to cleanse us from sin in the waters of baptism (Acts 22:16). He takes us to cleanse us so we will rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). He takes us so we no longer will be “just as I am”, but will be a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17).
One cannot sing these words without coming face to face with both the reality of his sins, and with the need to become something different in order to inherit eternal life. The Lord did not shed His precious blood so we can falsely claim His name, and then continue to live in sin. In Rom. 6:1-2 Paul said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Instead, the Lord shed His blood so we would be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and would no longer be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1-2). The Lord wants us to come, just as we are, so we will appreciate the change that only His blood can effect in our soul’s condition.
“Just as I am! Without one plea, but that Thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee. Just as I am! And waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot. Just as I am! Tho’ tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, with fears within, and foes without. Just as I am! Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve, because Thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”
Let this be our anthem, and our goal each and every day until the Lord brings us home.