The Righteousness of God and man
by anonymous contributor
"In all false religion, the worshipper rests his hope of divine favour upon something in his own character, or life, or religious duties...The sinner's own character, in any form, and under any process of improvement, cannot furnish reasons for trusting God. However amended, it cannot speak peace to his conscience, nor afford him any warrant for reckoning on God's favour; nor can it help to heal the breach between him and God. For God can accept nothing but perfection in such a case, and the sinner has nothing but imperfection to present. Imperfect duties and devotions cannot persuade God to forgive." (Horatius Bonar from God's Way of Peace)
God alone is perfect. We are not, "for all have
sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Since we fall short of His
perfection, we will always be imperfect creatures presenting to God imperfect
works. All our works, from the day we are born to the day we die are of
no more worth to God than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Such works have
their base in the flesh (or self), and God says, "Cursed is the man who
trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the
LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5). And, "...they that are in the flesh cannot please
God. (see Romans 8:5-9).
There is nothing we can do for God by way of good
works, so how can we possibly hope to please Him at all when it seems we
are doomed from the start?
He did for us what we could never do for Him. He
satisfied His own righteous demands for perfection by His unmerited favor,
or grace, toward us in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It
was Jesus who revealed the only work that will satisfy God. "This is the
work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent. (John 6:29). This statement
reveals a most obvious but horribly misunderstood truth about salvation.
It may be stubborn pride or ignorance, but many appropriate for themselves
something which belongs to God alone. "THIS IS THE WORK OF GOD", not ours.
God knew that all of humanity would never be able to achieve the impossible,
so He did it all for us in Christ's finished work on the cross. It is that
simple. Our work is to repent of our sin and trust Him for our salvation.
Understand this and act on it and it will be pleasing to God - more than
all the works of man's self-efforts combined since the creation of the
world. "...there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:7)
But don't misinterpret what Jesus said. He fully understands that we are
all sinners. It is only the self-deluded who feel no need for repentance.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our perfection the moment
we trust Him alone for our salvation because it is His perfect work that
has satisfied all of God's righteous requirements. If this was not true
He would have rotted in the grave. The resurrection is God's approval of
His Son's work successfully completed for us in providing salvation for
the individual who trusts Him. So perfectly did Jesus Christ do all that
God required for perfection that it was a single, solitary work needed
to be done only one time for all time.
This is what all false religions have in common:
they make perfection the end result of human effort when it should be the
beginning of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone. No system
of beliefs centered in man's efforts at pleasing God (Roman Catholicism,
Mormonism,Watchtower Witnesses, etc.) - no matter how outwardly pious they
appear - will ever satisfy God as did Christ who did it all for us. Adding
anything else to God's work of salvation is an abomination in His sight.
We become His enemy, and our own, by being a hindrance to His work of grace.
We have no merit or worth apart from Jesus Christ
alone in the question of salvation and achieving a right relationship with
God. The works done through faith in Christ are the expression of that
faith and not as a means to gain the salvation we already have. Faith without
works is dead if the faith we claim to have is devoid of any expression
of love and obedience to Him as its object.
We will never have the perfect knowledge or ability to rise above our own imperfection. We can perform a million more works, or even countless billions more, but our renewed efforts will still fall infinitely short of God's perfection. We can never reach up to His level by self-effort, but He alone has the ability to stoop down to our low level to touch us. He became one of us in all respects except sin, in Christ.
"For when we were still without strength, in due
time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will
one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood,
we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we
were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having
been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but
we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have
now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:6-11)
Also, these links to other articles:
The Sin and I by Jeff Dull ; Perfect Righteousness, Your Inheritance -- Claim It! by David Wilkerson