Deuteronomy 16-18; Psalm 38; Galatians 2
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” --Galatians 2:16
When I was in elementary school I believed what most children believe about Heaven and Hell. I thought that good people (like my Mom and Dad, all my school friends, and the nice cafeteria lady who always gave me extra French fries) would go to Heaven, and all bad people (such as murderers, people who smoke cigarettes, and my 3rd grade teacher and principal) would all end up in Hell. I, of course, was always with the group going to Heaven. Why? Because I was good.
Sure, I missed a few homework assignments, and I occasionally threw food at girls during lunchtime, but besides that, I was a good kid. I would never do anything really horrible, like kill someone, destroy my own lungs, or give a poor 3rd grader detention. I was a good kid. I did mostly good things and only a few bad things. And as a child I believed that my behavior was what made me good enough to go to Heaven. I believed that the things I did made me good enough for God.
There is an incredible Weight carried by most of the people on the earth. Everyone feels the burden of it at some point, even the people in the Church, maybe even especially the people in the Church. It is the Weight that is much too heavy for anyone to carry, yet we all find ourselves under its crushing pressure.
The Weight is this:
We believe that what we do makes us good.It is an unspoken belief for each one of us on one level or another. We feel that doing good things will make us good people, and doing bad things will make us bad people. We are convinced that in order to be acceptable and esteemed in the eyes of other people we need to work hard in order to meet the “standard,” to fulfill the “status quo,” when we will finally get to wear the badge that says, “HI MY NAME IS _________ AND I AM A GOOD PERSON.” But the worst part of the Weight is this:
We, even as Christians, feel that we have to work in order to be good, not only in the eyes of men, but also in the eyes of God.At this point the Weight becomes unbearable. Just as I believed as a child, we now believe that if we do not meet the “standard,” then God will not approve of us. If we screw up and fail to “perform,” then God will think less of us. If we do bad things instead of good things, then God will think that we are bad. The Weight becomes heavier and heavier as we realize that all the bad we have done far outweighs any good that we could ever do. In our own workings, we will never be good enough for God.
But there is Good News.
This Good News has a name, and His name is Jesus. Because of His life and death we are free from the Weight. When we trust in the work of Jesus, all of the pressure of performing disappears. Because we have faith in Christ, God can look at us and say, “You are good.” And this new approval and acceptance that we have from God is completely separate from the things that we do. At the heart of the Gospel and the Christian faith is the fact that you cannot work your way to any level of righteousness before God. But by believing in Christ we have a level of righteousness before God that cannot be matched by anyone anywhere.
Because of Jesus there is nothing that you can do to make God think any more or any less of you. To God, you are good. And He feels this way about you completely apart from the things you do.
I’m praying that this truth will sink deep into your hearts. I also invite you to look into the areas of your life where you are finding your self worth, in the things that you do rather than the finished work of Jesus.
Love you guys!