There seems to be such a divide in the world today. Even in the church you can still see the same battle being fought between the Pharisees of today and the faith believers. There are those in the church who are still trying to earn their righteousness by adherence to the law of Moses as if Christ’s death, burial and resurrection had no value on their justification.
But when I read for example Galatians 2:16 which says: “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through Faith in Jesus Christ, so we also believed in Christ Jesus in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” I see no cause to try to earn my righteousness by trying to be better.
But then good intentioned people will often say “but that’s not what Jesus said”. You’re right! He didn’t say that… well not exactly.
But He told the adulteress who was about to be stoned “neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.” He gave grace where the law demanded punishment giving the woman the ability to change her life and the ability through that grace not to sin.
But to the Pharisees of the day who were so steeped in religious law they couldn’t see grace standing in front of them. So Jesus constantly reminded them of their limitations to earn righteousness. For example, He said in Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Jesus repeatedly brought the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the time to the end of their belief in the law to expose their inability to earn righteousness through that covenant.
The Pharisees outcast sinners, punished and even killed them because their law demanded it and yet Jesus took time to sit with those very same sinners to show them love and give them grace. And it was through that grace that those sinners found redemption.
Take the tax collector that had cheated people for years. Just one encounter with Jesus where he received grace and not condemnation led him to repentance (which means to turn away from) and to restore all that he had taken. It wasn’t the law or exposing his sin that caused him to repent, it was living Grace.
I would suggest to you that if you are trying to earn your righteousness from God by focusing on your sin, you will never receive your justification because you’ll never be Jesus. He was the only man who was without sin that has any claim to or the ability to earn righteousness. The rest of us all fall short.
If you get angry, according to Jesus you’re guilty of murder. If you look at a beautiful woman or man and lust even for a moment, then according to Jesus you’re and adulterer or adulteress. If you commit any sin according to Jesus, you’re guilty of all of them. So, how are you ever going to achieve the perfect righteousness by trying to live as if you’re Jesus. We’re not him and personally I’m not trying to be Him.
Instead, I’ve realized that God loved me so much that he sent to this earth His son, who is perfect, to take my place in judgement so that I would receive His righteousness through the blood that He shed on the cross as a gift. That I would live free from the curse of the law and instead live in the victory that He paid for with that blood.
Now, I realize I’m not Jesus but I would invite you into this journey with me to discover all the benefits of being justified by Faith in Jesus Christ and not by an adherence of the law. If we focus on Jesus and His love for us, I believe that our lives can only change for the better and we can live a life of victory. The one Jesus paid such a heavy price to give us.
Faith in Jesus is the answer… period.