I was told once that Christians can be divided into three groups: Modern-day Pharisees, Christian Eeyores, and lastly, the Grace Community. And I was told that I was the modern-day Pharisee type. A lot of you were as well. You know, the really annoying, judgmental, legalistic type?
But, c’mon, unless you used to be an Ultra-Orthodox Jew, you were nothing like a Pharisee. Neither was I.
The Pharisees were hard-core religious zealots who devoted every minute of their lives to being righteous; they were sincere and serious. Their zeal was based on the Laws that God spoke to Moses.
“For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.” Romans 10:2
Not according to knowledge?
The apostle Paul goes on to explain in Romans 10 that their religious practices were “their own” attempts at righteousness, and had nothing to do with God’s.
Yes, God gave the Law to Moses, but He did not give it so that it would lead us to Him. To a life of faith, of reality. The Law was given to increase the knowledge of sin and to lead us to despair and to the feet of the Lord God. (Romans 5:20)
So, if you desire righteousness and holiness, your efforts at being ‘good’ will not succeed. The Bible is so clear. Again and again we are told that, to be righteous in God’s eyes, you must have FAITH. Before Jesus came, one had faith in God and the words He spoke to one’s heart. After Jesus came, one puts their faith in the death, burial, and resurrection. It is THAT that spells out the good news, the gospel; it is that that saves a soul from hell.
Paul calls the gospel “the word of faith.” The gospel is “the word of faith” because it has to do with assenting to what God reveals to your heart, it is about saying yes, having faith, and telling God, “yes, I believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead.”
The Christian life is a life of faith. “From faith to faith,” as it is written. We are saved through faith by grace, and then we grow to know Jesus through faith by grace.
Faith is the noun form of the verb “to believe.” Faith is about trusting God. It’s about believing Him. You trust Him for salvation and you continue to trust Him every day afterwards.
. . . yet with most of us, there was a slight detour into “works.” For me, it was a 15 year detour. Although we were not as serious and sincere as the Pharisees, we church addicts were still nonetheless trying to establish our own righteousness based on “law.” Our lives were guided by rules and principles and standards (not by the Lord.)
But God brought me back to Himself. He asked me to quit church, to give up my religious idols. To surrender my pride to Him. He asked me to stop TRYING to be righteous.
It’s great news because anyone can do this; the gospel applies to anyone and everyone! God’s idea of righteousness is attainable.
We don’t have to be modern-day Pharisees to be righteous in God’s eyes. I’m still blown away by that! So, thanks for listening. 🙂
“Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4