One of the saddest things I see as a Christian is someone who is trying to earn grace and forgiveness. Just watching it is exhausting, and unfortunately I watch myself do it more than anyone I know.
When we give our life to Christ, God pours out His grace and mercy like a flood. It’s unconditional, never ending, and always fulfilling.
In fact, this love is so great and life altering that it changes us. It’s so incredible that we convince ourselves we don’t deserve it.
And that’s true, we don’t deserve it, but thanks be to God that while we WERE STILL SINNERS Christ died for us (see Romans 5:8) He paid the penalty for us, not because we were good, but because He is infinitely and definitively good.
We sometimes even buy into the lie that we can pay God back for what He has done for us. And when we fall into sin we feel that we need to make up for it with good works. Not that doing good things is wrong, but God wants your good behavior and good works to flow from His love, not your guilt.
We think that we can tip the scales back in our favor by performing religious acts or pursuing moral behavior in a way that outweighs the sin we have committed. With this balancing act comes a crushing weight that we can’t carry.
You can’t pray enough, serve enough, or attend enough to ever account for your sins or get Him to love you more than He already does.
All of those things may be good ideas, but THEY WILL NOT SAVE OR KEEP YOU FROM SIN.
We fool ourselves by living with a mentality that says we can sin and rinse it off with good behavior. When we choose this lifestyle we inevitably repeat the same process over and over again because we CAN’T change ourselves. We weren’t designed to and we don’t have the power to.
God knows that you could participate in this ‘sin-rinse-repeat’ cycle forever. You could try to appropriate and sacrifice for your wicked behavior for the rest of your life, but to God even on our best day it’s still as filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6)
The fact is, God loves you way too much to leave you in this cycle. He wants to free you from this enslaving way of life. Don’t spend time trying to clean up your behavior before coming to God. He loves the ‘real’ you – right now, not some make-believe, perfect, future version of you.
So how do you step off the religious hamster wheel and step into God’s freedom?
You choose to realize that when you are weak, He is strong.
When you’re unable, He is more than able.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
Are you tired of carrying the weight of your guilt? Are you tired of adding up your good works and subtracting with your sin? God intends for us to live in peace, in rest, and in His love.
That habit you can’t kick, that addiction you can’t break, that sin that follows you around… God gets most glory when we just lift our hands up in surrender and point to Him as our only way out.
And it’s not just an idea; it’s a way of life.
It’s living, it’s breathing, and it moves on you and in you.