Thursday, June 30, 2011

Doing good things

Today I feel compelled to share a bunch of quotes from a book I'm reading. A bunch of one-liners really jumped out at me from Chapter 8 in Warren Wiersbe's book "Be Joyful" (a study on Philippians). My friend Faith and I have been reading and discussing this book together and we came to the mutual conclusion that this chapter just wasn't as interesting or engaging as some of the previous ones. Neither of us learned much that was new to us and we didn't feel especially convicted or encouraged by it either. But at the same time I had underlined so many lines from the chapter. If they weren't new epiphanies and didn't propel me into action, why had I underlined them? After thinking about it more I realized that some truths are just very important to be reminded of, especially when Satan is always prowling around whispering "sweet" lies in our ears. And his lies are so easy to believe because they appeal to our doubts and natural tendencies.

Last week, one of my daily email devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries (I recommend ladies subscribe to this) reminded me of something that ties into this: Reading the Bible prepares me for life, its not just there to rescue me from it. When I routinely fill my mind and heart with truths from His Word - both the ones that are new to me and the reminders - then I'll be less likely to believe and act on Satan's lies, which are sure to land me in "Rescue me!" situations.

So these are the quotes that I find to be truthful treasures:

"Like most 'religious' people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven!...He had to lose his 'religion' to find salvation."

Didn't REM write a song about that? :)

"...there are only two kinds of righteousness (or spiritual wealth) - works righteousness and faith righteousness - and only faith righteousness is acceptable to God."

"Ephesians 2:8-10 and Titus 3:3-7 make it clear that nobody can be saved by doing good works, even religious works. A Christian's good works are the result of his faith, not the basis for his salvation."

"There is only one 'good work' that takes the sinner to heaven; the finished work of Christ on the cross (John 17:1-4; 19:30; Hebrews 10:11-14)."

I just love how freeing these reminders are. There's no good thing I can do to earn God's favor. Any good things I do are only my response to his love and grace and mercy in my life; they are a result of my faith. 

"When he looked at himself or looked at others, Saul of Tarsus [Paul's name before he was a Christian] considered himself righteous. But one day he saw himself compared with Jesus Christ! It was then that he changed is evaluations and values, and abandoned 'works righteousness' for the righteousness of Jesus Christ."

"Paul looked at his own record and discovered he was spiritually bankrupt. He looked at Christ's record and saw that He was perfect. When Paul trusted Christ, he saw God put Christ's righteousness to his own account! More than that, Paul discovered that his sins has been put on Christ's account on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). And God promised Paul that He would never write his sins against him anymore. What a fantastic experience of God's grace!"

Having an accounting and banking background, I especially love the analogy of the accounts. When I put my faith in Jesus, he takes on my sin debits and credits me his righteousness. So when God the Father looks at my account, it's got the "goodness" balance from his Son. And I didn't have to work for or earn that transaction, I just accepted Jesus' gift of grace through my faith. My sin debt paid for without having to work it off. How sweet is that? Satan's lie is that I can claim some glory in this transaction if I try harder, do better and look better. He doesn't want me to think about what's going on in my heart as long as I'm "following all the rules" and measuring up to my own standards.

"When he was living under Law, all Paul had was a set of rules. But now he had a Friend, a Master, a constant Companion!"

This makes such a good point - without a personal relationship with Jesus, the Bible can be viewed as just a set of dos and don'ts.

All of these quotes from the book were reminders that just help me question my motives. What is the attitude of my heart? Am I seeking and following God's wisdom found in His Word? Am I truly showing sacraficial love to other people? If I'm not relying on God's strength and power and Jesus' righteousness, then these are harder than just settling for outward "religious" deeds. But since Satan wants me to fall back on my own strength and power, he tries to convince me that good works and going through the religious motions are a fine substitute for having the right state of heart.

It's not about religion. It's about my relationship with Jesus.

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