I did it my way!
“For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Instead, they are clinging to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. They won’t go along with God’s way.“ – Vs 3 NLT
This chapter is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts in chapter 9. He expresses his sincere desire that his Jewish brothers and sisters would come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ: “…my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation” (Vs 1 NET). He says, “I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God – but they are doing everything exactly backwards” (Vs 2 MSG). They were attempting to achieve righteousness on their own efforts by striving to keep the Law. They had good intentions, but were headed down the wrong path. They had the right objective: pleasing God, but they would never reach their end desire. Back in chapter 8 Paul reminds us that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8 NASB). In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “Now without faith it is impossible to please him” (NET). Paul makes it clear in verse 4: “For Christ has accomplished the whole purpose of the law. All who believe in him are made right with God” (Romans 10:4 NLT).
But isn’t it amazing how many today are still trying to get right with God through their own futile efforts? And that number includes many of us as believers. We have been saved by faith, but for some reason we keep trying to please God with our enthusiasm and self-effort. Like the Jews, we are “impressively energetic regarding God.” We are busy serving Him, giving to Him, going to Bible studies to learn more about Him, attempting to pray to Him, even telling others about Him. But all our “zeal is not based on knowledge” (Vs 2). It’s not in line with the truth. All the things we are doing are good, but we are doing them for the wrong reason. We think that our efforts are somehow going to make God happier with us. The reverse is also true. We think that if we DON’T do them, God will be displeased with us. But what does the writer of Hebrews say? “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” Faith that Jesus has done all that needs to be done to secure our righteous standing before God. We can’t add anything else to the equation. We can’t please God any more than He already is. When we do those kinds of acts in our own strength, we are reminded by the prophet Isaiah: “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6 NLT). But when we do them out of faith, knowing that they add nothing to our standing before God, then they become an extension of our faith. We do them because we love Him, not in some misguided effort to earn brownie points with Him.
God made the formula for righteousness pretty simple: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Vs 9 NLT). That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. No added works. No need for any good deeds on our part. Just believe. You can’t replace it with good intentions, hard work, holy sweat equity, or anything else. It is all based on belief in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We can only do it God’s way.
Father, thank You that you gave me another way other than my way. It would never have worked. But because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, I sit here this morning as righteous and holy in Your sight. I am Your Son. I am a fellow heir with Christ. I have an inheritance in heaven that no one can take away from me and that I can’t blow on the stock market. My standing is secure. And all it took was simple belief. How amazing is that? You are a great God and worthy of anything I can do for you in an attempt to show my gratitude for all You have done for me. Thank You! Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men