"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
- Ephesians 3:14-19
What gives us a sense of significance?
What provides security?
What will ultimately satisfy us?
How can we enjoy peace of conscience?
Why do we do what we do?
What does our activity ultimately accomplish?
Who are we, really?
These are profound questions. They’re some of the ultimate questions of our existence.
Are we left alone to answer them? Or does God provide a reference point and revelation not only of himself, but of us?
If we are alone, we create our own significance. We manufacture our own security. We must find that which satisfies us. This is what some call the path of irreligion.
If God is here, we might find significance in him. We might find security in him. We might find satisfaction in him. The question is how.
Religion tells us that the pathway to blessing with God is our performance. By embracing what he considers good and rejecting what he considers bad, we make ourselves right before him. He will judge us well. We’ll be self-justified. Although the object of religion is God, the pathway to him is one of self-reliance.
In this way irreligion and religion - despite their appearances to the contrary - are really the same thing: they’re efforts in self-reliance.
Jesus exposed this counterintuitive insight into religion throughout his earthly ministry. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were eminently religious. Yet, Jesus considered them enemies of God.
Why? Even though they claimed God as their object, they would not come to him humbly. They came to him pridefully - on the basis of their own merit, on their own terms. Sure, they talked a lot about the law of God, but cheapened it to suit their preferences. They reinterpreted and redefined the standard of God's law into something they considered attainable. Consequently, they were filled with arrogance (looking down on others who didn't appear to perform as well as they) and hypocrisy (pretending to be better than they actually were).
Jesus rejected both the pathways of irreligion and religion. In their place he offered humanity a better way, the gospel.
The gospel is the good news that Jesus performed for us. He lived the life of true righteousness that God demands, and did so on our behalf. He also died the death that our guilt requires. He took the penalty of our sin, in our place.
In the gospel, we find that Christ's perfect performance, not our feeble attempts to perform and pathetic attempts to pretend, is the ground on which we stand. Irreligion cannot deliver us. Religion cannot deliver us. Christ alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by him.
Child of God: Although your faith in God is a living faith and will invariably evidence itself in the works God prepared in advance for you to do, these works do not justify you; they do not make you right with God in whole or in part. It's only in the works of Jesus Christ that you stand. Your works of obedience are the response to God's gracious acceptance, not the means to earning it. God won't ever love you more for your obedience or any less for your disobedience. He loves you, always and forever.
You're loved. Don't forget it.
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