Faith Column: Being a good Christian
May 22, 2015
We look around our world, listen to the news, or even look within ourselves and our families and see the frailty, imperfection, and flawed nature of mankind. In Bible words, sin abounds. This is easy to see and cannot be argued away. Man's nature is to think, "Well I've done more good than evil, and I'm certainly doing better than the next guy, so God must be ok with me; I'll take my chances." The thing about God is that He doesn't grade on a curve, His standard is 100 percent perfection for your entire lifetime. When some people hear that, it makes them want to throw their hands up in the air and say, "Well then there is no hope for me." As far as our ability to earn a righteous record with God, that is true. It is hopeless. We cannot earn right standing with God. The truth however, is that there is hope. Many Christians have more of an Old Testament mentality where righteousness was earned through actions, rather than a New Testament mentality in which righteousness is obtained by grace through faith in Christ. A little old covenant mixed with a little new covenant, and our minds become confused. Our minds can be like cement; thoroughly mixed, but well set. The purpose of the Law of Moses, the old covenant, was actually to bring humanity to the place we just described, where each person openly concludes, "In my effort, it is impossible to get a 100 percent, it is impossible to be righteous. I need a savior."
I missed that mark of perfection at an early age as did we all. I was just a child and I acted out in selfishness and anger toward my brother when he took my toy. You don't have to teach a child to sin, it comes naturally. We are all born with a fallen and sinful human nature. The redemption of man from this fallen and sinful nature is why God sent Jesus to the earth. It was not just the sins that people had committed, but the root of that sin, the fallen nature of man's spirit that needed to be redeemed. This is why Jesus died and rose again. He was paying the penalty of sin, He was establishing a mark of perfect righteousness as a man, and He was making it possible to be made righteous by faith. Now we can understand why Jesus said in John 3 that a person must be born again in order to be able to enter the kingdom of God. He was not speaking figuratively when He said "born again." He was speaking of the literal new birth of the human spirit. Being born again is what happens in the spirit of any person that puts their faith in Jesus Christ.
Jesus achieved the God standard of 100 percent, and His perfect score is offered and credited to the account of any person who calls upon Him in faith for salvation. So then it is not our righteousness or our efforts, but we are credited with His righteousness. This is made clear in 2 Corinthians 5:21 where it says that He knew no sin, but was made to be sin for us, so that we could become the righteousness of God through Him. In verse 17 of the same chapter, it says that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation! Old things have passed away and all things have become new! Ephesians 2:10 says that we are His workmanship, re-created in Christ Jesus for good works.
Do you see it? A new birth. A new creation. How does this happen? It is by the grace of God and by the work of the Spirit of God. When does this happen? When any person believes on Jesus and by faith receives the gift of righteousness. Why does this happen? God made this available to mankind because He loves us, He wants to bless us, and He wants us to know Him, to love Him, and to have free access into His presence. This offer stands for all mankind, for all generations, for all nations. He did the work and made it all available as a gift. It is offered independent of our past, our failures, and independent of our effort. For this salvation, a person just needs to say yes to Jesus and receive the gift. When you do, then God sees Jesus' righteousness when He looks at you. He looks through Jesus' blood and sees you as righteous through Him. So now we know why the Bible says that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. If you have not, I encourage you to receive His grace now.
Jason Haskell is the pastor at New Creation Church in Craig.