Friday, March 04, 2011

"I did the best I could"

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Romans 3:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Romans 3:20

Many people, if asked why God should let them into heaven when they die, respond with some version of: "I did the best I could." Even amongst us who claim to trust Jesus alone as our means to heaven, there is sometimes a sense of earning our way by being good enough.

In our focus verse from Romans, Paul squelches any possibility of that. There's a lot to explore in this one short verse.

1. It implies the need of humans to justify* themselves before God.
Way back in His unfolding revelation, God showed at least two things about Himself:
- He is personal: note His personal appearances to Abraham, Jacob, Moses and many others.
- He is demanding: shown by the giving of the ten commandments and the Mosaic law with penalties for failing to comply.

Theologian H. C. Thiessen says, in his Lectures in Systematic Theology: "The specifications of the divine commands with the announced penalty which would follow failures to obey served to arouse a conviction of guilt and fear of the consequences of sin" - p. 276.

2. It tells us that we can't be justified by keeping the law.
Though we do still take the Ten Commandments as our standard of morality, "They are repeated for our instruction as to what the will of the Lord is, but not as precepts that we are to endeavour to keep in order to become righteous. 'That would be useless,' Paul says,'by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified'" - Thiessen, p. 242.

3. It implies there is a way to be justified.
It is through Jesus. He paid the death penalty for our sin. We trust in Him alone.

"Paul declares that by the works of the law no flesh is justified in His sight. The law merely serves to reveal sin and to impel the convicted soul to flee to Christ. Jesus taught that the 'work of God' is to 'believe on Him whom He hath sent (John 6:29).

Men are not saved by 'doing the best they can' as the statement is commonly understood; but they are saved by 'doing the best they can' if thereby they mean that they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:12)." - Thiessen p. 365.

No matter how "good" we are, it's not enough to save us. We are all, from the most heinous murderer to the most saintly Mother Teresa, on level ground before God and in need of Jesus' death to be justified (i.e. reconciled with God).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for sending Jesus who kept the law, and then died in my stead because I can't keep it. Help me to hold my dependence on You and Your justification through Jesus always in mind. Amen.

MORE: "Welcome to the place of level ground" by Brian Doerksen

"Welcome to the place of level ground" lyrics and cord chart.

1] To show to be just, right or reasonable; vindicate.
2] To declare or prove guiltless or blameless, absolve, excuse.
3] To cause to be free of grievous sin, and be reconciled with God.

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