Sunday, July 17, 2011
Nothing, but the BLOOD of JESUS!
You know that old saying, "You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!"?
I think this is great advice to all of us who call ourselves by the King's great name. My sinless Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, willingly died a vicious, agonizing death on a cross to pay the penalty of the crimes of His people. He did not rot in His grave, but rose victoriously on the third day. As Christians, we should be trusting for our salvation in "nothing but the blood of Jesus". But it seems that there are times that we try to trust in THAT plus..........our own self-righteousness. Eeeew. Not good.
Do you ever watch other brothers and/or sisters in the LORD struggling with some visible sin-issue and you sort of sidle up to the LORD, shoulder to shoulder and cluck your tongue, shake your head sadly and say to Him, "Just look at that. Pitiful, isn't it? They just can't seem to get it together, can they?" Of course, this is a total fantasy and not reality at all. You are still a sloppy sinner and so am I. Gulp. I hate it, but it's true.
I ran into an old friend of mine recently. She and I used to go to church together. I fondly remember many conversations we had when I was a new believer where she encouraged me with scripture to keep seeking the Lord and not get bogged down in my failures. I thought of her as a great joyful encouragement. But, this day, she was so different. Her eyes were dark and sad. Her beautiful hair now hidden with a cloth. She smiled but it was joyless. She and her family no longer attend our fellowship. They prefer to "worship in a different way".
Months before, I ran into a mutual friend of ours. I considered this woman to more than likely be her best friend. She told me that she and this friend of mine no longer saw each other or talked anymore. I wondered why. When I saw my friend that afternoon, I realized there was some kind of icky wall there. She looked at me as though I was "missing the mark". I saw her as though she were in a cult. When we parted my heart was heavy with a great sadness. And it's been plaguing me ever since. What happened? Why is she and her whole family trying to keep the Law, all of the sudden, when Jesus died to free us from the law of sin and death? She knows the scripture but she's choosing to believe new and strange doctrines that ultimately promote: Jesus death plus your good or acceptable behavior/lifestyle = Salvation. My friend won't even speak the Lord's name anymore, other than the Hebrew pronunciation. Our once sweet fellowship seemed only a fond memory. It was a heartbreaking encounter that afternoon and I was sick about it.
But, honestly, I went home and I asked my Lord to forgive me if it offends Him that I refer to Him as Jesus, Lord, God, Father or any of the other terms of endearment that I use to speak with Him. Did I need to do that? No, but you know, I do love Him and I never want to offend Him. And He offers grace to those who ask for it honestly.
I know of other women (and men) who seem (to me...let's get that straight) to be trusting in not just the blood of Jesus but in their own self-righteousness, also. We should not be obedient to God and His word because we want to "earn" brownie points with Him towards our salvation. But, we should be obedient to the lifestyle that He calls us to (according to the Holy Bible) because we LOVE Him and we want to show Him that we love Him by our desire to be obedient (according to His word) and not according to the teachings of men that do not line up with Scripture.
Every time I read the book of Galatians I remember that God has not called me to become a Jew to please Him. He called me His daughter knowing I was a Gentile. He is reconciling the whole world to Himself. If it were only Jews that He was interested in, then that would be a pretty small party in Heaven. God does not want anyone to perish but that all might receive eternal life through Jesus Christ.
The next time you are tempted to think that you are "in" with God because of your self-righteousness plus God's work on the cross, just remember:
"God saved you by His special favor when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
That "special favor" the word speaks of is GRACE. You know, God's Riches At Christ's Expense. Let's not forget that our righteousnesses (even after we are trusting in the blood of Christ) are still as filthy rags to God. See Isaiah 64:6
When you are standing next to something that stinks, all you want to do is: GET AWAY FROM IT, right? Our self-righteousness is actually pride and God resists the proud!
So, the next time I sidle up to God (in my mind) and cluck my tongue and shake my head about my stumbling brother or sister, I will remember that that attitude is like filthy, nasty, stinking rags to Him. I will imagine God running away from me in disgust. I will remind myself of all of my weaknesses and how God is not finished with me yet, either. I will pray for my siblings. I will continue to humble myself to my God Who is able to do exceeding above all that I can imagine. And I will cast down as sin that high thing that exalts itself above the knowledge of God. In other words, I will check myself before I wreck myself and continue to rely on "nothing but the blood of Jesus".