As we plow through January of a New Year, I still find myself thinking about new directions. I plan to write more about my past, present and future in later blog posts, but for now, I want to review a basic truth.. When one starts a new project, a solid foundation often proves critical. For me, this is a good starting point.
For me, nothing is more foundational or important than faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. The New Testament does a wondrous job of spelling out exactly what that means, and how that works.
My study today comes from a bird’s eye view of the book of Romans; specifically, the first half of the book. These main points lay down the foundation of what I believe.
– No one is good. We have all sinned.
Romans 3:10-12 says, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
This is important. In today’s society, many Americans feel that they live ‘good lives.’ Walk up to the basic person on the street, and he or she feels that compared to those in prison, or some of the more heinous characters from history, they live a life that demonstrates goodness. Unfortunately, the standard for righteous living is not our fellow man, but rather God’s Holiness. Compared to that, none of us are ‘good.’
– We cannot ‘earn’ our salvation.
I have some very faithful, religious friends who live very upright, moral lives. They feel that living as such helps to earn their salvation in the life after death. The Bible cautions us in numerous places about this approach.
Isaiah 64:6 says 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.
Romans 3.20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Does that mean we should live sinful lives? Far from it! However, we must understand that in light of our sins, our best works are like filthy rags. We are all unclean, so to speak, and all the good works in the world will not change that. If you commit a heinous crime, a righteous judge will still throw the book at you regardless of how many ‘good’ works you do before and after. God is no different. In His perfect Holiness, he cannot handwave our multitude of sins because we did some good deeds along the way… regardless of how many there are.
The fact that the motivation for many good works has roots in selfishness ( Trying to earn one’s way to heaven is pretty self centered ) does not help, either. But, that’s another subject.