Sunday, April 30, 2006

Justification: How Can I Stand Before God?

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6:6-7)

This sounds so much like many of us. God, what can I do? How can I approach You? What works can I do to be acceptable in Your sight? What can I do that will make me righteous before Your eyes? What can I do for You so that You'll give me what I want? Shall I offer thousands of prayers up to You? Shall I burn incense and offer some choice oil to appease You? My first born, Lord, if only you'll grant me [enter desire].

Get to the point, Kristina, get to the point. I want you to reread that paragraph above. Who is doing the action here? Me. You. Bob, Sally, Jessica, Samantha. We're doing things to get a response out of God. We're doing the work to make us right with God, perhaps we're doing the work to get something in return...a raise? Heck, a job? A new car? Yes, yes, what's the point Kristina? The point, my dear friend, is there is nothing I can do (or you can do) to make ourselves acceptable to God. Well, that's not true, there is ONE SINGLE thing we can do to be acceptable to God. We'll get to that in a moment, but first let's look at this. We all by nature try to do things on our own, we want to save ourselves, we want to make ourselves acceptable and then come to God, we want to change ourselves. We want to do, we want to be the one responsible for the action. We want to be the one to burn that incense and offer up that sacrifice. But is that really what God has called us to do? What has He called us to do?

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)

It's amazing how simple things really are with God. We want things to be complicated, we want to do a million things. But God has called us to do one simple task. To allow Christ to reign as our Lord and Savior. That's it folks. You want to get right with God? That's it. Submit and follow. Accept that He was the one to sacrifice, accept that only His sacrifice can make you acceptable to God. Only Him.

We make things so much more difficult, so much more complicated. It is in our fallen nature to do so. In the beginning things were nice and simple. One rule: Don't eat the fruit of that tree. So, of course we eat the tree. We don't accept simplicity, and because of that we plunge the entire universe into a complex system that is never as good as the original.

And so life continued, and deep within us we all long to be able to stand before God again. But still we demand the right to do as we want, to complicate things as we see fit. He gives us one rule again, follow Christ and find your freedom, and we reject that rule. We're a stubborn lot, I tell you. We always want to do something. If we can just live "right," do "good," then we can stand before the Lord...Or so we think.

They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:12)

Oh, but how we like to think that we do good. We have movie stars fighting to end world hunger, surely that is good. Surely finding housing for the homeless is a good work.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6, emphasis mine)

What then? God says our very best is nothing but filthy rags to Him. We have to keep in mind that we are separated from God. God has given us a way to restore that relationship...One way. Feeding the hungry, finding a cure for cancer, housing the homeless, these are all beautiful and wonderful things, but outside of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ they are nothing.

Nothing we can do will ever justify us before His eyes. It is Christ's sacrifice, not our own, that brings us to Him. Scripture is clear, I cannot save myself. You cannot save yourself. And perhaps even more difficult to accept (at least it is for me) is the fact that we cannot save someone else. I have to allow Christ to be my sacrifice, I have to accept and submit to Him. You have to do the same. We cannot force Christ's sacrifice upon anyone else. His righteousness is imputed ONLY to those who respond to and accept God's call. Going to church on Sunday isn't going to save you, and forcing your husband or wife to go along won't save them. Feeding the homeless guy at the corner isn't going to save you. It is only through Christ that you can be saved. It is His work we must lean upon, not our own.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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