February 15, 2017
The Scripture reading for today started out, "Who can say, "I have made my heart pure?"" From there, it proceeded to, "I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing...In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them...If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The texts are, Proverbs 20:9, Romans 7:18-19, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 1:9.
Last night, I watched one of the satirical YouTube videos of Donell and Conell taking on the heresy of thinking we can somehow add something to the grace of Christ for our salvation. It's pretty funny stuff, but also highlights the point that St. Paul makes when he denies that there is anything at all we can do to merit salvation. Ours is to simply believe in what God has done for us in Christ. For years, I believed this in both head and heart, but had trouble applying it to myself. Every time I sinned, or even didn't quite attain the standard I thought I should, the guilt would set in, and I found myself listening to the shaming voice of the 'Accuser of the Brethren.' It never ended well, and I spent a good many years living under the weight of 'not good enough.'
In reality, I was living the consequences of not fully trusting in God's goodness and in the perfection of his plan of salvation by grace through faith. It's those last words that are telling. God's salvation is by grace alone. Period. It's not faith in Jesus AND... It's faith in Jesus alone. When we allow our falling short (which is our lot as human beings - Romans 3:23) to chip away at our utter and complete faith in Christ, we end up with a watered-down salvation which is no salvation at all. In fact, it is all or nothing, and too many of us have an almost-faith that ends up being no faith and no salvation at all, as we hop on the devil's treadmill of "just try a little harder."
It has taken me too long to get to the place where I am truly believing in the gospel word of John: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Let those words seep into your soul. They are life. In Christ.