It seems I am always in need of remembering the righteousness of my Savior.
This is because I know a Christian must do the following things:
• Surrender to God’s will (Romans 12:1-2)
• Truly die to sin and live to righteousness (2 Peter 2:24)
• Do whatever God says (1 John 2:3-5)
• Love God more than anything (Luke 14:26)
• Be God’s instrument for righteousness (Romans 6:13)
I am a Christian. The difficulty is, at any given point in time, these statements do not seem to describe me. I understand that they need to be true, and I continue to try and try to figure out ways to make them true.
I get discouraged, sometimes, when they don’t seem to be true. Quite honestly, at least one of them (loving God more than anything) never really seems true.
This seems to be the Christian equivalent of low self-esteem. The problem isn’t that I don’t love myself… oh, I do. The problem is that I continue to see that I don’t match up to God’s requirements. My self-love combines with my continuing guilt to add up to real doubt that I’m headed anywhere but bad.
I try to convince myself that I have supernatural power to do these required things.
Then I don’t do them. And I’m really in trouble again.
And I can doubt that I’m really saved.
Because saved people have supernatural power.
Sermons about God’s enabling power to do good seem to rub wrongly, because I don’t do good. Well, I do some good… but loving God to the extent that my love for my kids seems like hate (Luke 14:26)? Hmm.
Is there anything that helps this?
Yes there is.
Consider this quote, from William Newell:
“Christ’s work, though on behalf of man, was wholly His: glorious and perfect, yet to be received by man in its blessed results of eternal pardon, peace and blessing. To be received, we say, by simple Faith, unmixed with human effort. A humbling process, indeed! For man must go out of the righteousness-producing business, and rest wholly and forever on the work of Another, even Christ” (Hebrews, pp. 238-239).
This is important foundational knowledge. What saves me is the grace of God. This grace of God is seen in the death of Jesus Christ for my sin. I brokenly and humbly put my trust, my faith, in Jesus. I am not only forgiven of all my sin against a holy God, but also I am given Christ’s righteousness.
His perfect work saves me… really, Jesus Christ saves me… not my commitment, not my work. Because I’m justified freely by His grace, I measure up to the full demands of God’s righteousness in Christ (2 Cor 5:21). Right now. Done.
How I am amazed… that it isn’t my commitment that saves me, but my Christ. That it isn’t my really hard effort that saves me, but my Savior does. That it isn’t what I do for God, but what God has done for me.
This puts a little different twist on the start of this post.
The righteousness I have to stand before God isn’t my own. All those requirements listed above, they are what happens in the life of one who is already saved. Not one who hopes to be saved. That’s an incredible difference.
My increasing knowledge of the incredible grace of God that has been and continues to be poured out on me, my increasing knowledge of the overwhelming love of Christ for me… results in me actually more and more desiring those top things. I can actually trust that God will work in me, even if on a day-by-day basis I seem stalled. Patience, believer. Keep after the knowledge of God’s incredible love for you in Christ.
Because this is the truth:
The sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will surrender to His will (Romans 12:1-2)
The sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will learn to truly live (2 Peter 2:24)
The sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will want to do whatever He says (1 John 2:3-5)
The sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will love Him more than anything (Luke 14:26) (!)
The sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will want to be His instrument (Romans 6:13)
Perfection isn’t had right now. Perfection is not to be had on earth. And I have to trust…when my will is engaged, and yet I flop again. This is the work of faith. I have to trust forgiveness really is full and free. Growth makes faith easier, but faith must continue even when growth seems so slow. I know that the sure result of His perfect work for me is that I will have an eternity of perfection, worshiping Him forever.
If Christ’s righteousness is worth anything.
And it is. It is worth everything.