for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. [galatians 5:6]
the world is always adding up the score.
in a conversation i had last week, the bottom line was this, “i think if you just try your best to be a good person, you’re going to be okay.” this is always such a sad sentence for my ears. people who spend their whole life striving for their good works to outweigh their bad, so that the scale tips enough in their favor that they can spend eternity in heaven.
but in reality, and in scripture, we can clearly see that there is no score to add up. at least no points to be put in the good works column. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. [rom 3:23] how short? infinitely short. with a chasm between us and God too great for us to fathom. for whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. [james 2:10] all of the points in the bad works column! we are guilty! all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. [isaiah 64:6 niv] even our good works done in our flesh are put in the bad works column! they are repulsive to God, and can never earn us favor with him.
but because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. for we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. [eph 2:4-10]
praise God that he has made us a way through faith in Jesus Christ! with the faith given to us, we are made alive in Christ, and are moved to love his beauty, and changed into the very same image that he bears, the very glory of God. God did, in fact, create us for good works that would glorify him, and we will see that play out in the rest of this chapter. those good works are compelled by the love of Christ, and powered by the Holy Spirit. but those good works earn us nothing. not his salvation. not his favor. not his presence. we have all of those things lavished on us because of the perfect work of Jesus Christ! and so we trust fully in God being well-pleased in his only begotten Son, who died on our behalf, for the forgiveness of our sin, and for the gift of his righteous record to be given to us. we are fully forgiven, we are permanently sealed, and we are eternally loved.
in what ways are you still striving in your flesh? are their still ways you are trying to be right before God in your own strength, for your own merit, because of doubt in the sufficiency of the cross? brothers and sisters, Jesus did not come to die in order for you to meet him halfway. surrender fully, and let his love fill you with joyful helplessness before an all-sufficient God!
~ arwen eastman