You know what’s silly? When we try to work for God.
It’s silly because justification cannot be earned. It takes an extravagant act of grace, an obsene gift, to set right all that sin has set wrong.
In Romans 5 it says one man’s one sin brought death to the whole world. If Paul were an Algebra teacher, he might have explained that concept like this:
If sin is ‘x’, then:
1x=condemnation for all.
There was a judgement following one single sin and because God is Holy and perfect judge, the just consequence for one single act of sin is death and condemnation for ever. (And if that doesn’t seem ‘fair’ to us, it’s only because we have absolutely no concept of the Holiness of God).
But the free gift of grace we have from God in Christ Jesus is a different equation. The free gift of grace led to justification for anyone who is in Christ.
And it wasn’t just undoing one single sin in each of us. When God looks at the state of mankind, He doesn’t have one sin per person to cover. He faces the obstacle of sin in every second of every minute of every day by every person.
If we call His gift of righteousness ‘y’, then:
1y > 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000*x
Grace is greater than sin. I don’t mean that one act of grace is greater than one act of sin. I mean, one act of grace is greater than ALL the acts of sin combined.
Grace wins. The trespass Adam committed in the garden was powerful. So powerful, that it infected the entire human race. But the free gift of grace that abounds to the glory of God through His Son eclipses the trespass entirely.
His blood is not only powerful enough to cleanse all of us of the sin that has infected us, it also infuses us with a righteousness so great that when we stand before God with all our billions of acts of unbelief, He is able to declare us righteous.
That’s no joke.
We could spend every minute of every day working for God and we would never attain that kind of wage. It is a disproportionate.
We may all ‘get’ that in our heads, but do we get it in our hearts? Do we embrace it?
If we believe that, it will be evidenced by the fact that we don’t attempt to earn God’s approval. It will mean we stand on nothing before Him but the blood of Jesus. If we find ourselves working for God, we should examine whether or not we truly get what it takes to make us whole before Him.
How do you know if you’re working for God?
It’s likely that the things you find your worth in before people are the main things you find your worth in before God. If you boast before men, it’s because you think you have something to boast about: you think there’s something that gives you a slight edge.
- Think of the places where you are defensive when challenged.
- Think of the places where you judge others.
- Think of the places where you are condemning and intolerant.
Behind those emotions are places where you think justification can be earned. Behind every scrap of panic that comes when you fail at work, or when your sin is revealed; behind ever scoffing glance you cast at sinners and wonder how they can be accepted by God – lurks the reality that you think you are somehow more worthy of God’s grace because of your works.
Fight against those tendencies. Because the gift of God’s gracious pronunciation of us as ‘good’ is far too extravagant to be earned. And those who work for that gift will indeed get their wages. But what they’ve earned will not be enough to secure their righteousness before Him.
*I wrote a lot of zeros, but you should translate that number as the highest number imaginable. It still stands that the gift is greater. Neat.