Every man is religious.
Even the self-declared secularist is religious.
Even the atheist.
They just refuse to recognize that their philosophy is a religion.
That is why we are in the midst of a religious war. Even if it only has the appearance of a “cold war”, it is still a raging battle.
A False Hope
This warfare can all be traced back to the underlying battle that every man wages. Which takes place in the depths of his own soul.
Because, every man must make a decision about God. It is an unavoidable decision.
My old friend, Ron, used to wear a T-shirt that said, “Be kind to everyone.” And on the backside it said, “Because everyone is fighting a battle.”
God places us in a position to either love Him or reject Him. And we each make a clear choice to do one or the other. Even if we fantasize that there is some middle-of-the-road line we can navigate.
Anyone who attempts such foolishness is what the Bible refers to as a “prudent” man. One who always tries to take the diplomatic “middle ground”. Who is always trying to avoid conflict while maximizing the benefits that he can obtain from this world. Never really declaring himself for one side or the other.
Such men live in denial of spiritual reality. Pretending that such a decision doesn’t really exist or that can be avoided by intellect and cleverness.
Or that God saves men based upon their varying degrees of goodness. And not on any specific set of beliefs.
Out of this, comes a false hope in what men think God will do for them based upon something they deserve. Based on whatever a man gives up, sacrifices or performs in God’s name. Whether that name is “Jesus Christ” or some other name.
Men cling to the idea that God gives men what they deserve. Or what they have earned by good deeds and good intentions. And that God, if He is truly fair, will make His decision based upon this concept of “fairness”.
What Do We Deserve?
If you read the book of Job carefully, you will find that Job deceived himself into believing that God failed to take into account his righteous life. So, Job was in despair over God’s supposed unfairness toward Him.
And although he didn’t actually come right out and accuse God in so many words, he certainly danced around the idea. The idea that something was amiss in God’s administration of His vast eternal plan.
But God set the record straight with Job by stating that man had no real understanding of what He was doing. That man was not there when He created and named every star. Nor when He established the foundations of the earth.
In short, man really knows nothing of God’s thoughts or plans. And is in no position to judge the actions of God. Any more than a squirrel can help us do our household budget.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
And yet, our default position is often the notion that God should do things for us because we “deserve them”. Because of our good deeds, our self-sacrifice in not doing bad deeds, and due to our faithfulness to His words.
But, that is not the gospel.
We do not get what we deserve.
Because, according to God, we all deserve hell and the lake of fire.
The Foundation of Grace
Even the Christian deserves no better. Despite all the things we do or desire to do for the Lord. We are still dealt with based upon the grace of God.Which is not about anything we have earned or deserve.
Because all that we have or ever will have is based upon who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us.
When we think in any other way (and this goes for the believer as well), we are not operating under grace. We have placed ourselves back under the law. Which is all about God’s perfect demands. Which we will never meet.
“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
The law was not given so that we could have life through keeping the law. The law is really the nature of God “codified”. Or, in other words, the nature of God revealed in written form.
And it was given so that men could see their need. So men could see just how deeply the depths of sin go. So that our wretched sinful nature could clearly be revealed to us. So that we, in despair over our condition, would turn to Christ for mercy.
And that is the key.
That we have everything because of the love and mercy of God. Which flows from the glory and wonder of His own Person. And not based upon any requirement upon God to do something for men.
For any man.
What We Value Most
Those that are in Christ — that is, those that have trusted in the righteousness of Jesus Christ for their acceptance before God — are fully approved of God. Based solely upon Christ and His value.
So, you may see from this that it is all about what we value most. Even as believers.
Do we continue to value our own efforts or our own supposed good intentions? OR Do we value Christ?
Or is there something else, or someone else (such as Mary, the saints, a prophet, a leader, an angel, or ourselves), that we are placing confidence in to gain God’s approval?
Or are we trusting Christ PLUS some other thing?
God’s satisfaction toward us, for our salvation as well as for our daily walk with Him, always returns to what we value most.