Advent: December 18

Advent: December 18

Romans 3:20-24

20 …no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Much as we’d like to please God, we cannot do it! There is only one person over whom Father God pronounced his pleasure, and that was Jesus – at his baptism in the Jordan, and at Jesus’ transfiguration. With God, anything less than perfection falls short. We cannot be righteous in God’s eyes under our own strength. We cannot please God by anything we do off our own bat.

This may sound negative or discouraging, but those who think that at heaven’s gate all their good and bad actions will be weighed up against each other (hoping that the good tips the balance) are on the wrong track. God is not pleased by our regular attendance at church, our loud singing or our willingness to volunteer for a reading or the intercessions, to arrange flowers, cut the grass or rebuild the shed! God is pleased only with his Son Jesus, and what he did.

Do you secretly seek praise for your hard work and dedication? Of course, you do need to have people confirm that you are in the place that God has called you to, and encouragement is great but, borrowing from the words of that famous prayer by St Ignatius, we labour and seek no reward except that of knowing we do God’s will.

God knew that it would be like this when he gave the Law to Moses, but God has a long-term plan, and he would in time send his Son to the world so that through his death he would give us access to his righteousness.

Jesus died carrying the blame for every sin of mankind. Every failure, every disobedience, every ounce of pride. In dying, he paid the price for our sin. His death was a single event, but the price of sin has been paid for all time. Our account has been cleared – nothing to pay, no arrears.

Our righteousness before God comes from our faith in Christ Jesus. Costly grace, but free to those who put their faith in Jesus.

How can we please God?

Do I strive to make the grade before God?

Father God, because of Jesus, I can claim his righteousness, and when I come before You in Jesus, You see Jesus. I stand justified by your grace because of what he did for me. Thank you, Father, thank you, Jesus. Amen