We Come to God Only Through Jesus
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” (Luke 18:10-12)
Ever thought about talking “big” before God–trying to give Him an explanation of your greatness, exclaiming that you are far better than other people? Not really a good idea! The Pharisee in today’s parable certainly had an elevated idea of himself. As he compared himself with those around him, he developed a distorted view of his own righteousness.
In reality, we all need a good dose of Job’s final analysis of himself after coming face to face with God:
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:6)
You might be thinking how someone whom God called “blameless” could have such a low view of himself. It is because each one of us is totally sinful before a Holy God apart from Christ. If we have an elevated opinion of our own righteousness, we must remember that it is only Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross that allows us to come into God’s presence. We can never stand in our own right before our Holy God. Jesus is our only access to His throne. Jesus himself taught:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
It is not the blood of animals that gives us entry into His presence (as practiced by the Jews for centuries):
But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
It is not our acts of “righteousness” and “good works” which save us:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
Rather, it is Christ’s blood that cleanses us from all sin:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
We are redeemed from the empty way of life through the precious blood of Christ!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.
God alone is worthy of our praise! We all fall short of His glory and righteousness.
Take It to Heart
“Our nature struggles fiercely against being saved without our works and tries to deceive us with a grand illusion of our own righteousness. So we may find ourselves attracted to a life that merely appears to be righteous. Or because we know we aren’t righteous, we may be frightened by death or sin. Therefore, we must learn that we should have nothing to do with any other way of becoming righteous, except through Christ alone.”
“‘God be merciful to me a sinner’, is a prayer easy to be said, but hard to be felt. One eye upon the perfection of God’s laws, and another upon your own heart, may bring you up to it. But the Spirit’s light is also needful, for which you must pray earnestly.”
(K.H. Von Bogatzky)