Quite Simply … We Need a Savior!
“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19-20)
The righteousness Jesus demands from His followers is unlike that of the Pharisees. The Jewish leaders were simply into externals. Externals represent only what man can observe and not what God sees. Jesus taught quite the opposite! It is obedience at the core, at the heart level, that God desires. When cleansing takes place internally, the external will follow!
Jesus always aimed at the heart. He was looking for a true inner righteousness based on faith in God. In Scripture, the heart is the term used to describe the seat of all our affections and desires. Our actions and words come from the overflow of our hearts. That is why Jesus told us the fruit of our lives is a good indicator of what lies within us. Are we full of selfish ambitions, vain conceits, greed, anger, and the like? Or are we full of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness? What is in our hearts will always eventually manifest itself in our behavior and words. We may be able to mask it for a while, but ultimately what is at our core will come forth. It is God’s desire for us to get rid of the evil that lies hidden within our hearts. We are pros at justifying our poor behaviors by blaming them on all types past experiences and dysfunctions. Our hearts are prone to delude us and they frequently lead us astray and take us down the wrong path. We are often ignorant of the depravity that remains within us.
“Christians are rapidly losing sight of sin as the root of all human woes. And many Christians are explicitly denying that their own sin can be the cause of personal anguish. More and more are attempting to explain the human dilemma in wholly unbiblical terms: temperament, addiction, dysfunctional families, the child within, codependency, and a host of other irresponsible escape mechanisms promoted by secular psychology. The potential impact of such a drift is frightening. Remove the reality of sin, and you take away the possibility of repentance. Abolish the doctrine of human depravity and you void the divine plan of salvation. Erase the notion of personal guilt and you eliminate the need for a Savior.” (John MacArthur)
It is God alone who knows the true condition of the heart of man. Scripture tells us:
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:14-16)
Take It to Heart
“The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity, and had no reason to expect anything but severity. We have seen why the thought of grace means so little to some church people–namely, because they do not share the beliefs about God and man which it presupposes. Now we have to ask: why should this thought mean so much to others? The answer is not far to seek; indeed, it is evident from what has already been said. It is surely clear that, once a man is convinced that his state and need are as described, the New Testament gospel of grace cannot but sweep him off his feet with wonder and joy. For it tells how our Judge has become our Saviour.” (J.I. Packer)