The Merit of Observing

Many of us learn from our parents, our teachers, and society in general that if you do good things, you earn good things. This is somewhat true. I know that I have earned good grades for doing homework. I know I have a decent driving record for following the rules. I have had many opportunities over the years that were a result of good work, good behavior, good attitude, etc. I am sure as you are reading this, you are nodding in agreement as you are reminded of situations where you were rewarded too. 

Please understand that I am in no way trying to speak out against rewarding that which is good. Today’s verse speaks of the law — “the law that fully exposes and unmasks the reality of sin.” The verse notes that observing the law does not mean being declared righteous before God. We cannot earn our right standing with God. We cannot earn our salvation. There is great danger when we take the things of this world — even the merit system itself — and think that it lines up with God’s kingdom. 

It is true, we will be rewarded for what we do in this world. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will have to account for how you used His blessings in this life. Jesus paid the penalty of your sins so you will spend eternal life with God. Still, you will answer to Jesus for the times you did not follow His lead. This impacts your heavenly reward. If you are not a believer, you will have to pay for the penalty of your sins. There are no rewards. (See Matthew 16:27, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:10)

Don’t miss the most important thing here. Without Jesus, there is no salvation. You cannot be in the presence of God for eternity. Instead you spend eternity in hell, a place of constant torture and isolation and darkness (Matthew 8:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Even if you think you do good things or you are a good person, you will miss the mark. As it mentions in today’s verse, you will NOT be declared righteous. As you try to earn your way into heaven by doing good things, you will fall short. Remember, we all fall short (Romans 3:23). The law fully exposes and unmasks the sin. You can feed the homeless, take in orphans, donate all of your belongings; however, without Jesus, you are still guilty. You still miss the mark. You still have sin to account for because in attempting to keep up with the law, you will fall short. 

Every day we fall short. In the Bible, there’s this moment when Jesus provides healing and says, “Go and sin no more.” I think of this often because I know that it’s not easy to do. As we go through our day, we are bound to sin. I am in no way excusing it. Yes, if you are a Christian it shouldn’t be happening as often as when you were a non believer. Remember, sin is going against God. If you are truly living with the power of the Holy Spirit, you could resist temptation (Galatians 5:16-17). Yet daily we find ourselves following our own leading and we get ourselves into trouble. Many times, even before I get one foot out of bed, I have sinned. 

You can find peace in knowing that God sent His one and only Son to pay the penalty that you could not pay. You can find hope in knowing that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins, that He paid the price once for all. You can trust that if you believe in Jesus Christ, you are saved. Today, be reminded to live out this salvation. Take the grace that you so freely received and live by it, and pour it out to others. Do not get caught up in the merit of observing the law. Do not live by a checklist. Do not consider if you are being a “good Christian.” There’s no such thing as a good Christian or a good person for that matter. Remember, there is only One who is good (Luke 18:19). Life isn’t about a list of rules; it’s about relationship. With Him. A relationship with our loving Father. Spend time with Him today. You will be blessed.

“For by the merit of observing the law no one earns the status of being declared righteous before God, for it is the law that fully exposes and unmasks the reality of sin.” – Romans 3:20 [TPT]

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