by Shawn Brasseaux
The vast majority of our world is so burdened and weighed down with works-religion. What a shame!!! Our world is laboring with the hopes of somehow appeasing their false idol and/or religious hierarchy. The God of the Bible is not asking us to blindly perform a large set of ridiculous religious rituals: He wants us to obey Him in light of faith (1 Samuel 15:22). The nation Israel was religious, but they were not following God’s instructions with faith, and God was sick of their vain religious performance (Isaiah 1:11-15). Today, the world is no different. Society fasts, prays, goes to church, meditates, water baptizes, sacrifices, burns incense, lights candles, tithes, tongue-talks, does the “jitterbug for Jesus,” and sings hymns and chants. It makes God sick because there is no faith in any of that mindless religious activity!
God is not pleased with our world. They have a so-called “spiritual” outward appearance, but an unbelieving heart on the inside. God wants us to trust His Word, the Bible, and people are not doing that. They ignore Paul’s apostleship, they spurn the Gospel of the Grace of God, and they refuse to believe anything God says.
In Matthew 23:27,28 KJV, Jesus referred to these Pharisees as “whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” What did Jesus mean by this? The Pharisees were self-righteous, having a godly outward appearance but an evil heart of unbelief. This is why Jesus repeatedly called them “hypocrites” in chapter 23 of Matthew. They were religious leaders and sticklers for the Mosaic Law, but had no real desire to follow God. They would call everyone else evil, but they were oftentimes the ones who would attempt to trick Jesus into saying something incriminating.
They loved their high social status, their religious authority, their formalism (grand outward appearance), but that did not matter because they were lost, dead in their trespasses and sins! They wanted nothing to do with their Messiah-King Jesus, which is why they refused John’s kingdom water baptism in Luke 7:29,30. But, they had an outward appearance that seemed to convince you otherwise, huh?
The Apostle Paul (formerly Saul) had been a Pharisee, and throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, Saul persecuted believers. He thought he was good enough by performing the demands of Judaism, but again, God had to save his lost soul in Acts chapter 9! As you can see, religion cannot save anyone. Just because people have a religious, godly appearance does not make them people of faith. Compare Scripture with Scripture, and you will get a better understanding.
Do you remember the Lord Jesus’ parable about the 100 sheep, found in Luke 15:3-10? This is the perfect analogy of self-righteous sinners. The shepherd in the parable has 100 sheep, and one sheep gets lost. In order to seek out the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep out in the wilderness. Once the shepherd finds the lost sheep bleating for help, he brings the sheep home, and celebrates that he found lost his sheep! In verse 7, we read Jesus saying, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth [changes his mind], more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
The reason why they needed no repentance is because they were lost, but they thought they were “good enough!” The 99 sheep thought they were doing “good enough” by themselves, and were comfortable lost in the wilderness! The poor lone sheep lost in the desert knew he was lost, and cried out to the shepherd for help! This one sheep symbolized the few Jews who embraced Jesus as Messiah; the 99 other sheep were the “good-enough” Jews who ignored Jesus Christ. But, today is no different.
People confused by religion, for the most part, want to remain lost. “Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:9). The “god of this world” Satan has blinded them using works-religion, so they remain in darkness (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). But, thank God that we have been set free from the spiritual blindness, and we can see what God’s Word says about “good enough” people—none of us are “good enough” for heaven.
Salvation belongs to him who “worketh not, but [who] believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly; his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). You cannot provide your salvation by performing religious rituals because there is no saving power in religion. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, we read that “the power of God” that is needed for salvation can only be found in the Gospel of the Grace of God. Certainly, the Bible affirms that Christians are called to do good works (2 Corinthians 5:14,15; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-15), but I want to be emphatically clear that goods works are a result of—not a prerequisite for—salvation! Never confuse Christian good works with good works to become a Christian.
Biblical salvation is not available for “good enough” people who are “doing the best they can.” Salvation cannot be acquired by those who are “keeping the Ten Commandments.” Remember, “the [Mosaic] Law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:9,10 KJV). Had we been good enough on our own, there would be no need for God to institute the Mosaic Law (Ten Commandments). But why does the Law exist? To prove our failures and prove God’s righteousness.
Romans 3:19,20 KJV say, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The Ten Commandants only condemn us; they do not make us righteous.
Do not work for salvation, for as a sinner, you cannot do enough to please God. God is not asking you to join a church, “measure up,” or pay a large sum of money. God’s salvation is a gift to you, and gifts are free. God will never owe you salvation, and it is only by grace that God is offering salvation freely to you through the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork on Calvary. Christ was the only one righteous and holy, fully able to bear your sins and take them away with His shed blood.
Remember God is only pleased with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, who is faithful. Only Jesus Christ was “good enough.” Everyone else, including you and I, are not “good enough”—if we were good enough for heaven, then Christ would have had no reason to come and die! When God applies Christ’s righteousness to our account, we become the “righteousness of God in Christ,” and then we become fit for heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus Christ was our substitute, which is how we sinful beings can be have a perfect standing before God.
THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV)
“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
Acts 16:31 KJV
“‘Good enough’ may be good enough for you, and good enough for religion, but it shall never be good enough for God, neither shall it be good enough for heaven!” —arC Quote