Sometimes I feel discouraged by reading the New Testament. There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament alone, complete with seventy-four things to be and thirty things to not be…
Do you ever look at even a few and realize that, even as a Christian, saved by grace, loved by Jesus, walking in the light– you still fall short?
I gossip. I have hateful thoughts. I lose my patience. I get stuck in sin patterns. I’m lazy. I forget to pray. I put things in the place of God. And then I go and break the other 1,043 commands.
Looking at myself in the mirror of the Word of God (James 1:23-25), I see all the sin that is still in me. I see that I still fall short every single hour of every single day. My sin nature is still there, and even now, no good can come from me.
Lots of Christians (including yours truly) get salvation a bit backwards sometimes. God saves us, they say, and then we strive to deserve it.
I believe that’s a lie. I believe that I will never, at any point in my life, be worthy of the grace that God has given me. And I believe that it is the greatest pride to think that this is possible.
Stick with me– I’ll explain.
One of my most profound experiences of God’s love for me happened one day when I just wasn’t doing anything right. I had been trying and trying to be a “good Christian” but failing miserably. I didn’t feel loved at all. I felt ugly and angry and discouraged. And that morning, I was done.
And it was in that place that God really touched me in a new way and just kind of whispered “I love you.”
Then I realized: God didn’t show up for me when I was striving for perfection. God didn’t wait to whisper His love until I was doing everything right. No, He showed up when I was about ready to give up. He gave me His love when I felt dirty and messed up and utterly unworthy.
You see, I had always known that I could never earn God’s love for me. I knew that Jesus had given His life as a free gift. I wasn’t trying to earn His love…
I was trying to deserve it.
And in that moment, it was as though Jesus whispered to me: You will never deserve My love, but I’m giving it to you anyway.
You rob the gospel of its power when you try to deserve the love of God.
The power (and beauty!) of the gospel is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we were dead in our transgressions and sins, He redeemed us. And now, even though nothing good dwells in our flesh, Christ is transforming us into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit.
But what to do with the verses about “walking in a manner worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) or having a “life worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27)?
There is only one way that we could ever have a life worthy of the gospel of Christ… and that is through Christ in us.
Christ is worthy. It is in His worthiness that we are justified. And it is through His worthiness that we are sanctified. And one day, through His worthiness, we will be glorified.
We do not deserve our salvation by following the law any more than we earn it that way. When the Bible says that it is not of ourselves, it means it.
If I printed off a list of 1,050 commands and kept it to the best of my ability, I would not be worthy of salvation.
Do you believe that?
However… I believe that right here, right now, I am worthy of salvation. Not in myself, but because Jesus has made me worthy. In Him, I am holy and blameless. In Him, I am made new.
God’s love does not rest on my performance. His love does not rest on my ability to keep the law. His love does not even rest on my obedience.
His love for me rests on Jesus’ finished work on the Cross.
Do you want freedom? Do you want grace? Do you want joy and peace and sheer abundance of life?
It comes in gripping this Truth.
It comes in the love of God. I thank God that His love does not depend on me. I thank God that He loves me when I sin and when I run away and when I struggle. I thank God for teaching me this lesson a little more every day.