Devotional - 2003-01-30 - My Part is Nothing
Originally Published 1999-03-11
Eph 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NAS)
I've heard it a hundred times. "I'm not good enough yet, but I'm working on it. I'll settle things with God when I've beaten this one or two things down. When I've conquered those things, I'll be ready to meet God." Well, if that is the way you think too, I've got bad news for you. In Isaiah 64:6 we read that our very best actions are just like filthy rags in God's sight. The words filthy rags are literally translated menstrual cloths. That stings a little when we think of the things we've done to please the Father. This does not speak of the acts done for God when He has prompted us. It refers to the things we do in our own strength, especially before He saves us from sin.
Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (NAS)
So, the question is asked - Is there anything I can do to help God, or my standing with God, in my salvation? The answer is no. We are spiritually dead to God. How can a dead man do anything to help himself? This is a sticking point for some in our performance-oriented culture. We do and we learn and we work to get ahead. There is nothing wrong with hard, honest work unless it becomes something that interferes with our relationship with God. But none of this impresses the Lord in the light of our salvation. God even has to give us the faith to accept His grace - so there is literally nothing that we can take credit for in the process.
Isa 48:11 "For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; for how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. (NAS)
He does what He does to promote His name and His glory. God the Father called you and me for His sake. Yes, He cares for us or He would have called not one soul from the damnation that we so richly deserve. But, God is securing for Himself a people who love Him to live with Him forever - praising and in fellowship with Him through eternity.
The converse is also true. There is no person that is beyond the saving reach of God. People have told me, "You don't know what I have done. God could never save me." If I can coax the person to share with me their terrible failing, they are often surprised to hear stories of Bible characters that have done far worse. David, a man after God's own heart, planned the murder of his mistress' husband Uriah. Uriah had been David's close friend. David trusted Uriah to the point that he gave Uriah the orders to carry to the General that would lead to Uriah's death. Uriah never looked at those orders, but faithfully carried them. Even in the face of such a heinous crime, God does not cast David aside. There was punishment and rebuke for David and Bathsheba to be sure. But their salvation was never in doubt. If God can forgive that far, is there anything He will not forgive?
Isa 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. (NAS)
As a matter of fact, when every other possibility has been eliminated, that is when God is likely to move. It is at that moment, when He is the only explanation, that the Father will move for His glory. When the night is dark and you can't see where your help is coming from, look for the hand of God to move decidedly in your life.
Isa 59:16-17 And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede; then His own arm brought salvation to Him; and His righteousness upheld Him. 17 And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself with zeal as a mantle. (NAS)
The bad news is that there is nothing we can do on our own to aid in our salvation. The good news is that the works is already done.
Lord Jesus - It is for Your glory that there is nothing we can do and no one beyond Your reach. Since You know us so well, You know this is hard for us sometimes. We want to be a part of everything and doing our share - carrying our weight. But this is one time when we are totally reliant on You. If we will stop fighting You, trying to do it ourselves, Your promised salvation is there waiting. Amen.