My, how incurably “religious” we humans are. We’ll worship anything. It’s in our DNA.
From converting popular Hollywood actors and musicians into idols, to erecting massive cathedrals, to carving ornate statues, to idolizing religious leaders, we just won’t stop.
And, closer to home, we believe that we can earn God’s favor through our own efforts, our own “living a good life,” or “trying the best we can.”
But as well-meaning as we may be, it’s all a fool’s mission, as far as reaching heaven is concerned.
And all this despite repeated warnings in the Bible that to depend on “works” of our own hands is to “lean on a broken crutch.”
The prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 64:5-7, describes the sad end for those who place their faith in such religious posturing, “… all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our wrongdoings, like the wind, take us away.”
And that brings us to the “mother of all deceptions,” trying to add to the value of Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross for the sins of mankind.
First, a bit of background … Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
From cover to cover, the Bible echoes the same theme — nothing but blood can cleanse us from sin.
Not our own blood of course, but the blood of a substitutionary sacrifice, pictured prophetically in the Old Testament by animal offerings and ultimately fulfilled by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross in the New Testament.
In Leviticus 17:11, God made the way of salvation (atonement) crystal clear In the Old Testament:
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
It’s not about keeping the Law plus all the additional laws that were added later. Salvation and a heavenly destination are not about good behavior, they’re about a divine substitutionary death (as signified by the shed blood) to atone for sin.
God never has had a “Plan B” for redeeming mankind. Reading ahead in scripture, in Revelation 5:9, “Worthy are You (Jesus) to take the scroll and to break its seals; for You were slaughtered, and You purchased people for God with Your blood from every tribe, language, people and nation.”
The beauty of God’s salvation program is that it removes us from the equation entirely.
Jesus did “the doing” for us. The only thing we can “do” is to believe and receive the gift of eternal life.
The word is grace, God’s grace. Picture God’s hand extended out of heaven downward to earth and your hand reaching up to meet His, and when the connection is made (by faith) your salvation will have begun.
“But the works method and the grace method are mutually exclusive. Each shuts out the other. Men must cease even seeking; they must cease all works — weeping, confessing, repenting, even earnest praying, and simply believe God laid their sins, their very own sins, all of them (past, present and future) on Christ at the cross. There comes a moment when a man ceases from his own works, hearing that Christ finished the work, paid the ransom at the cross. Then he rests! Such a soul believes, knowing himself to be a sinner and ungodly, but he believes on God, just as he is, and knows he is welcome!”
Note that the scripture does not say that God justifies the praying man, or the Bible reader, or the church member, but the ungodly.
Have you yourself believed on the God that accounts righteous the ungodly? Have you ever really seen yourself in the ungodly class, a mere sinner, and as such trusted God on only one ground, the blood of Christ?
How About You?
Have you ever really come to Christ empty-handed like a child, expectantly holding out your hand of faith?
Have you ever given up on your “religion,” on living a good life, on anything you are doing to “please Him?”
Have you stood before God and made the blood of Christ your only claim? This pleases God more than anything you have ever done, are now doing, or will do in the future.
Jesus “did all the doing for you” — come to Him and rest …
As written in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “… knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
The blood of Christ, plus nothing!