Scripture: Galatians 2:16- “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”
Here is an extremely critical aspect of the gospel. We often think that our good works will bring us more favor with God. The prophet Isaiah taught many years ago that our attempts at righteousness, our good deeds, our “self”-righteousness is like a filthy (menstrual) garment to God. The majority of humanity does not seem to get this- so they create religions and practice morality in hopes of appeasing their idea of God. They are trying to justify themsleves before God by their own efforts. Most people sense their guilt (even if they don’t admit it ) before God and so they try to tip the scales by doing good things. Many people think they are right with God because they are more virtuous than their neighbor. Many people think that God will not send them to hell because they are worthy of heaven. The idea that the only way to be accepted by the Living God is to be redeemed by Jesus Christ the Righteous One is for those religious practitioners and self proclaimed decent folk, infuriating. But although many will consider as foolishness the “good news” that their striving is worthless. Others will be set free- because they realize that no matter what they do they can’t make themselves right with God. Do you realize this? Do you trust in Christ’s work on the cross to make you right with God? No human person is justified by their works, but by faith in Christ Jesus. How liberating it is to let Jesus own righteousness appease God for us- to let Jesus blood cover us. Indeed…Jesus paid it all- All to Him I owe- Sin had left a crimson stain- He washed it white as snow.
Prayer: Father, you are the great justifier of sinners. Your glory necessitates justice and mercy and you have offered both. Because of the cross- a corrupt and self righteous sinner like me can be free from my striving. Lord, I am utterly sorry for ever having offended you- And if I could, I would “do” whatever I could to make myself right with you- to make my sin up to you. But I know that my efforts to please you fall on deaf ears and are worthless apart from your grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Thank you for giving me the freedom to live for you in response to your amazing love- No longer fearing the justice of your wrath or hell, but rather walking in the joy-filled reality that my guilt is removed and there is now no condemnation for me. Oh Father, help me to always remember my identity and position in Christ- that in Him I am justified and redeemed and thereby reconciled with and accepted by You. In Jesus name, Amen.