I see in my kids a reflection of myself. We are caught in a paradox seeded in the blueprint of humanity. An inner desire to be in relational conflicts with a passionate drive to be right. For my kids, this comes out in epic sibling battles.
My kids love each other, and depend on that sibling relationship for encouragement. Through their friendships with one another they gain an understanding of the world of High School and Middle School. They share in common the burdens and blessings of being a child whose Dad is a Pastor of Worship. They rely on each other to endure the German stubbornness and sometimes quick temper of their dad.
But, while they see their need for a sibling relationship, they are torn with a drive to be right. Now, I don’t mean to say that they look for the right answer. No, not at all. They deeply desire to prove that the thoughts and opinions they start with are the right ones. Scripture teaches that none of us, by nature, are right. None of us, by nature, are even good.
not even one.
11 No one is truly wise;
no one is seeking God.
all have become useless.
No one does good,
not a single one.”
13 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “They rush to commit murder.
16 Destruction and misery always follow them.
17 They don’t know where to find peace.”
18 “They have no fear of God at all.”
We were made to live in intimate relationship with our Creator. Because of our sin nature it is impossible for us to have this Father/son/daughter relationship with God here in this life or in eternity. This sin nature is our inheritance (Thanks grandpa Adam and grandma Eve). We have also inherited the penalty, which is death.
That sounds so harsh. “But, I’m a nice person.” “I do more good stuff than bad.” “I help the poor. I go to church.”
Let me ask you a question. Where did you ever get the idea that God has a scale and weighs your good things against the bad? That’s not how it works. If the imagery of a scale helps your understanding of the judgement, then you should think of it like this. If you were born standing one the side of the scale and you needed to throw your good deeds to the other side of the scale, you would not be strong enough to throw them that far. No matter how good your deed is, your arm isn’t strong enough. It’s not about how good your deeds are. It’s about you not being able to reach the other side of the scale with them.
Jesus came and poured out His righteousness for us. He substituted Himself for us on the cross. He died in our place. Because we were helpless to do anything, He did it all. Every ounce of our salvation is the work of Jesus. You can’t do good enough works to earn it and you can’t do enough good works to prove it. Try as you might, you can’t even live up to the laws we’ve been given.
Made in the image of God to live in intimate relationship with God under the righteousness of God. That relationship was broken by Adam who passed on to us an inheritance of unrighteousness. This unrighteousness first inherited then fully embraced by our own sinfulness. Jesus came to cleanse us from Adams stain and forgive our sins. His work on the cross did it ALL!
I recently saw this tweet – “Supplementing God’s grace with your works is like supplementing the Arctic Circle with your ice chip. You Are You Kidding?” – Scotty Ward Smith via twitter.