Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Every Christian I know well has confessed to asking themselves this question occasionally, “How much is enough? How good do I have to be, to be assured I’m saved?”
Let’s face it – obedience is hard! And as righteous as we all aspire to be, there are times all of us just give up the struggle with certain sins and do what we know if morally wrong, and just “trust Christ” to forgive us. Why is it good, faithful Christians presume on God’s grace to forgive us, rather than simply obey? It’s what in, The 10 Second Rule, I call “grace abuse.” Grace abuse is holding God to his promises while using them as an excuse to break our promises to him. Most of us wouldn’t think of ourselves as actually doing that – but isn’t that what we’re really doing?
Christ’s sacrifice was meant to pay the price for that which I cannot do for myself – perfection and absolute surrender. Jesus expects all of us who claim his name to full-heartedly give our all to loving God, doing his will, and serving his kingdom on earth. When that’s not enough – and it isn’t, of course – yes, in the end he remains faithful even if we aren’t. That’s the real purpose of grace – to do what I can’t. It should never be my excuse for what I won’t.
So the primary reason some of us aren’t making more progress on living more godly lives is that we’ve made peace with our consciences. We’ve come to what we think is a reasonable balance between sin and surrender – a compromise we can live with, and one we think God is okay with, too. We tell ourselves that Jesus died not just for past sins but for our present and future ones as well. We’ve been forgiven! And that’s a powerful incentive to settle for partial surrender. For good enough. Anything more just feels unnecessary – overkill.
But then you just have to wonder what Jesus himself thinks when he hears us singing our hearts out in worship, “I surrender all,” knowing full well that we have no real intention of surrendering all? And, “take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold,” when he’s looking at millions of mites’ worth of cars right out there in the parking lot! Who are we kidding? Singing songs we really don’t mean and other thoughtless forms of worship simply perpetuates this illusion of surrender.
You see, if I were God, I’d put everyone on the incentive plan. Good people go to heaven – bad people to hell. And I’d give the “good people” some idea where the bar is so there’d be no whining about it later. Sounds fair, right?
We should all be glad I’m not God!
The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” God knew we could never be good enough. That’s why Christ died for us.
Our problem – my problem – is that every day I need to put on spiritual blinders. Those things they put on racehorses, so they pay no attention to the other horses or the crowd, but have their attention fixed only on two things – the finish line and the jockey’s instructions.
Forget what other people are doing! God isn’t grading on the curve. You’re either a child of God, or you are not. And children of God act like it. So, what is God telling you to do?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1
Today, are you wrestling with a moral or spiritual decision that requires you to stop looking around at what other Christians are doing or giving points for being a “pretty good” Christian, and both believe and live this:
“This is how we know we truly belong to him. Whoever claims to be in him, must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:5,6
Always be thankful for grace. But never presume upon grace to sin.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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