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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

Not Perfect? Read This!

It is clear, then, that God's promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not because Abraham obeyed God's laws but because he trusted God to keep his promise. So if you still claim that God's blessings go to those who are "good enough," then you are saying that God's promises to those who have faith are meaningless, and faith is foolish.

But the fact of the matter is this: when we try to gain God's blessing and salvation by keeping his laws we always end up under his anger, for we always fail to keep them. The only way we can keep from breaking laws is not to have any to break! So God's blessings are given to us by faith, as a free gift. - Romans 4:13-16 TLB

When I first saw these verses in the Bible, I underlined them and put stars all around them. Do you ever feel like you don't deserve God's gift of salvation? If you do, I know how you feel. These verses are for you as much as for me. They tell us that we don't have to earn salvation or God's love. We couldn't even if we wanted to. The truth is, we could never be "good enough" to save ourselves. That's exactly why God sent us a Savior. In fact, the Bible reveals that even our best efforts wouldn't measure up. Isaiah 64:6 says, "All our righteous acts are like filthy rags." But while we can't model perfection, we can model spiritual growth. Out of gratitude for God's gracious gift, we can seek to abide in Him and be fruitful for His glory. And we can serve Him and others out of a thankful heart.

In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast." One reason why God wants to make our salvation a gift is so that we can't boast about it or take the credit for it. God wants the glory, and He deserves it. Scripture reveals that when people asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" He answered them, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:28-9) We all know how much Jesus spoke about the importance of our doing good works and loving and serving God, but here He gives us the bottom line. It's not what we do that matters most to God, it's in Whom we believe. It's not what we do that makes us righteous in God's sight, it's what He has done for us. Does that mean that the Bible condones sin? Not at all. The same man who wrote the verses above in Romans 4, the apostle Paul, also wrote in Romans 6:2, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" From the moment of salvation, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist sin and obey God. We become increasingly uncomfortable with sin, and God's ways become more attractive to us. And Scripture assures us that "God is at work within us, helping us want to obey him, and then helping us do what he wants." (Philippians 2:13 TLB) I pray that these truths will help you to relax a little more and enjoy your special relationship with God. May you rest in this precious promise from Him: "So now, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us"! (Romans 5:1 TLB)

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for trying to earn the salvation You want me to receive as a free gift. Help me to stop striving to please You and to learn to abide and rest in You. Give me a revelation of my new identity in Christ so that I can cooperate with Your plan for my spiritual growth. Thank You for showing me that it's not my perfection that counts, but Yours!

- J. M. Farro


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