The specific phrase "come as you are" is not found in Scripture. However, understood rightly and in the context of the totality of Scripture, the phrase does seem to contain some very important truths.
First, the phrase "come as you are" is intended to combat the false belief that we must make ourselves acceptable to Christ by ceasing from sin or doing good deeds before coming to Him. This we cannot do and could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite of Christ's teaching. Scripture tells us that our good deeds cannot save us (Ephesians 2:8–9). Even our best works are as filthy rags when viewed by our holy God (Isaiah 64:6). If we could make ourselves righteous before coming to Christ then His sacrificial, substitutionary death would not have been necessary for our salvation. Christ Himself stated that He came to save sinners (Matthew 9:12–13). He ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 9:10). He protected sinners, such as the woman caught in adultery, from the self-righteous Pharisees (John 8:3–11). He did not come to save those who in their sinful pride believe themselves to be righteous, but those who know they are not righteous. Jesus calls all who are weary and burdened by their sin to come to Him and find rest for their souls in Him (Matthew 11:28–30). He calls not just sinners but the foremost of sinners to come to Him (1 Timothy 1:15–16).
So, does Jesus demand anything from those who would come to Him? Yes, He demands that we be born again spiritually (John 3:1–8). It is not enough to make moral improvements, we need new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26), hearts that are repentant and believing. God commands all people to repent and believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved (Mark 1:15; Acts 19:4; 20:21; Hebrews 6:1). However, even this repentance and faith are not our own doing but are gifts from God through which we receive the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9).
As a result of being made alive to God and becoming new creations in Christ, our lives begin to change (Colossians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Although we do not become sinless after this rebirth, we do have a different mindset toward sin. We desire to depart from sin, we mourn over our remaining sin, we are convicted by the Holy Spirit when we do sin, and we confess our sin to God (2 Timothy 2:19; Romans 7:24; John 16:8; 1 John 1:9). After our spiritual rebirth, we also begin to exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, such as love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22–23). However, all this is a result of coming to Christ and not a precondition for coming to Him. We come as we are, but we do not remain as we were (Philippians 1:6; Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Let all who are thirsty come and drink from the Living Water, Jesus Christ (John 4:10; 7:38).
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