1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. Romans 4:1-8 (NASB) (Read verses 5-8 on the site)
I was in a discussion once where the person with whom I was conversing was very upset because he felt that when we raise the standard high in our churches that it can be very discouraging to those who are not as spiritually mature as others. He believed that churches need to be more easy going and less demanding. He also believed that all we have been saying against seeker-sensitive church models, for instance, is unfair because in those churches those who may not be very mature can feel comfortable and welcome. …
My heart broke while reading his comments because I understood exactly what he was talking about and I began to see that there is another group of Christians out there that are drawn to churches that are not so demanding on doctrinal issues as in a typical Reformed church. They are the ones who feel that they will never measure up. They feel inadequate to the apparent “Holiness” seen in the more mature members in those churches.
I honestly do not know what sort of Christian would ever place those sort of demands on other Christians. However, I do know that Christians are not perfect and not one of them can stand before God and say they deserve their salvation. All of their spiritual growth since their salvation would not have happened outside of God’s grace. Their spiritual gifts were just that, gifts. None of us deserve this salvation. Our good standing before God is a gift from our Heavenly Father that not one of us deserve.
I have heard many atheists say something like this, “I hate your stupid religion (Christianity) because your God saves wicked men.” I remember when Ted Bundy, before he was executed several years ago, professed faith in Jesus Christ. The howl from some people that this evil serial killer could possibly be in Heaven after he died showed the absolute absurdity of Christianity. However, as the passage that I placed at the top of this post says about God that He is, “Him who justifies the ungodly.” (v5)
What most people, including many professing Christians, do not understand is that no one is righteous before God. All of us who profess that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour were in no better standing before God than the worst murderer that has ever lived prior to our salvation. I suppose some people may believe they are better than other people because of their innate goodness, but that holds no water with God.
10 as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18 (NASB)
Because of Man’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) all people born since (except our Lord Jesus Christ) were born spiritually dead in their sins. Some people who are not Christians do good works. Many Christians do good works within their own strength and abilities. All of that, to God, is as filthy rags.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)