Posts Tagged Salvation
Glad I took some time tonight to read this again.
I find myself meditating on the following verses in Romans 3:
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
We are to do good deeds, and I suppose doing what the law commands was (and is?) considered “good deeds”. But the thing he’s trying to get them to understand that doing what the law commands, even if we could follow it completely and without fail (no one can), is not what saves us. The law exists only to show us how guilty we really are.
What I read about the Pharisees back then tells me that they took great pride in following God’s commands. It seems like this was their focus. The laws are complicated and lengthy. I imagine them sitting around for hours debating and discussing every little nuance. Yet, what’s important is to know that God sent Jesus to die on the cross as payment in full for all our sin. I still know there are many people thinking that if they can just do more GOOD things than BAD that they’ll be okay. Without accepting & believing that Jesus Christ did what He did, it doesn’t matter how GOOD you have been.
Paul really clears it up in the following verses in the same chapter:
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
It’s so simple. But it was so different than anything they’d heard.
Lord, how I wish I could simply obey and never fail you. But I know that even when I do fail, you are willing to forgive me. It’s hard to grasp the depth of your love for mankind – especially someone like me. But I’m grateful. Help me to keep my eyes on You so I can continue becoming more like you on this journey you have me on.
Today’s reading got me thinking about rewards. I’ve always resisted thinking about being rewarded by God for doing good. Yet, the Bible is clear that there are rewards for those who are faithful in God’s kingdom. Conversely, there are also consequences for doing wrong. Look at the passage in Romans 2, verses 5 – 11:
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
As Christians, we know that our eternal life is solely dependent upon our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, reading this passage could make one think that doing good can save you. Out of context, one can certainly get that impression. However, I believe that Paul is pointing out that it is God inside us, changing us, that makes us righteous, and that results in our outward expressions of good. Look at what he says at the end of this chapter in verses 28 & 29:
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
It is easy to appear spiritual on the outside, but you will know a person by their deeds (fruit). On the other hand, if God is inside a person, it will show outwardly.
It was as perplexing back then as it seems to be today. I’ve talked with several people who have this mindset of the Galatians – that you must obey the law for your salvation. Although we’re not talking circmucision today, as in the day, there are still laws that people try to measure themselves against for their salvation. “Have I done more bad things today than good?” This is an age-old trick of the enemy. Get people focused on “doing” rather than “being.”
Paul makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that this is the farthest from the truth.
The law condemns. It shows us our sins. It was designed to last only until the coming of Christ. No one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law.
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 You have suffered so much for the Good News. Surely it was not in vain, was it? Are you now going to just throw it all away? 5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law of Moses? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
It is through faith that we have life. We receive God’s promise of freedom ony by believing in Jesus Christ.
This seems so clear. Yet, why do we punish ourselves when we sin? Why do we live like prisoners to our sins? Why do we see people fall away from the church because they feel they can’t live up to the standard? True: we must confess our sins and repent. But, this is separate from our position in the Kingdom.
Why is it difficult to see? Why is this freedom just out of reach for many? For those that have heard the truth and believed, how can sin continue to strangle us?
Could it be that there are so many among us that do not have faith in Jesus Christ? Are there still those that have not heard and understood that faith in Jesus Christ is what saves us?
grace & peace,