Saturday, August 30, 2008

"I'm Not Good Enough."

Last week’s sermon was taken from Colossians 2:4-23 in which Paul talks about clinging to Christ and not being deceived. He warns against “fine sounding arguments” as well as “hollow and deceptive philosophy” among other things. (Wise advice for today as well isn’t it? I could go on a political tangent here, but I won’t). He encourages his readers to cling to the principles found in Christ and not the principles, legalism, and rules of the world. After all, we are aren’t saved by law, but by grace (Ephesians 2:8).

I encourage you to read the text for yourself. Because of the length, I haven’t posted it, but Chad did a great job of breaking it down and explaining it (hear it for yourself on our church website - http://www.missionoflife.com/ - when the sermon is uploaded). Chad explained what the “arguments” were and the audience to which these arguments were presented.

The recipients of Paul’s letter were a mix of Jews and Gentiles. So, those that sought to teach false doctrines fine-tuned their “fine sounding arguments” by appealing to the weaknesses of both groups. Jews came from a background of “law” and the Gentiles came from “sacrifice” (as in, sacrificing to whatever god they needed to sacrifice to for whatever reason). Chad described that for both groups, it was a “never enough” problem. For the Gentiles, it was their altar of sacrifice. For example, if they offered one of their gods a sacrifice of the blessing of crops they had had, but then had a bad year the following year, they must not have given the gods “enough.” But, if they had had a good year, then they would owe the gods MORE of a sacrifice because of the blessing they received. That creates a problem doesn’t it? How do you judge how much to sacrifice each time? There’s always that burden of worry of “is what I give good enough?”

Similarly, the Jews were the same way. Obedience through the law was how they attempted to find favor - though, in their case, it is just ONE God (the one and ONLY GOD!). Though, whether Jew or Gentile, their degree of obedience or sacrifice was never sufficient. One’s best was never “enough.”

However, Paul assured his readers that the issue of “enough” has already been appeased. The “enough” has been satisfied through Christ!!! CHRIST SATISFIED THE SIN DEBT ONCE AND FOR ALL AND THROUGH HIM (AND ONLY HIM - AND NOT THROUGH OURSELVES) IT’S ENOUGH!!! Hallelujah!! We don’t have to worry about the burden of perfection and legalism anymore!

Sadly, however, the “fine sounding arguments” still exist today. Many of us still walk in the lie that we have to be “good enough” which is pushed on us by the endless materialism (another variant of the “enough“ problem), rules, and legalism of our society - and even our churches!! Many of us still struggle to be “good enough”; whether it’s in the eyes of our peers or God’s. In fact, Chad showed us a list of many of the denominations that are around today. He said the only thing that separates one from the other is “rules.” What a shame that the Pharisee mentality still exists; all this “adding” of rules and requirements in order to obtain rightness with God. The church needn’t be a “credit” building system. You can’t “brownie point” your way into the Kingdom! And while most would say, “well duh!” there are some that think of salvation this way; as if church attendance could save you!! I remember seeing this very idea on “Home Improvement” when Randy decided he didn’t want to go to church with the family anymore. Tim told him that he shouldn’t skip because it was like “credit” and if you don‘t go, you “lose a credit.” It’s a rather humorous and ridiculous notion isn’t it? Yet, there are those that live as if that statement were an actual truth!! There are lots of “Sunday morning Christians” out there who mistakenly think that rules take precedence over grace and a real relationship with God. If they can just be a “good person,” that will be “good enough.” That is, until someone else who is “better” than you points out just how worthless you are and how much “holier than thou” they are than you.

I, for one, know what all of this is like. I had the “not good enough” mentality for a good while, and thought that I somehow had to earn my way to grace. I’m sure that there are those that probably felt like I did in that I had to be “perfect” like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa in order to go to heaven. It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have been able to break free from those lies and embrace the whole truth that it’s not anything that I “do“ or “earn” obtain favor or salvation. IT‘S ONLY GRACE!!

Legalism is a terrible burden to bear; I know this firsthand! At times, I still have it creep up on me, but I’m much better about identifying and shutting it down quickly than I used to be. Reading Paul’s letters, especially Galatians, really helped me with that. The whole idea is to embrace CHRIST and His atoning sacrifice as the only way to have right-standing before God. As Chad has said before, Jesus is the “filter of grace.” It’s by that filter that we are purified. Jesus is the way to fellowship and relationship with God. There can’t be any relationship without the blood. So, if we are trying to “earn” what we’ve already been freely given through Christ’s sacrifice, we are totally missing it!! If we, in our pride (and probably even ignorance), continue to think that we have to purify and perfect ourselves in order for God to love and accept us, we are getting it backwards. God loves us regardless; period. And, the purification and salvation comes through our outright admission that nothing WE can do can earn our salvation. What need would we have for a Savior if we could earn it ourselves? And, furthermore, who are we to basically tell Christ that His blood isn‘t sufficient enough and that our salvation depends on our own “righteousness“?

We MUST admit our need for the grace of God; which is only obtained through Christ. That surrender is what perfects and purifies us; through submission to HIM and not trying to do it ourselves. Even when you think about it, doesn’t it make more sense to come to Jesus in the state you’re in so that you can be cleansed rather than waiting for the “right moment” when you’re perfect so that you can come to him? For one, that day will never come and for two, even if it were possible, what need would we have for a perfect God if we were already perfect on our own?

If you are waiting until you’re “good enough” to accept Christ, maybe it’s time to learn the truth: You don’t come to Christ when you’re “good enough.” You become “good enough” THROUGH CHRIST when you come to HIM!! Don’t delay….come to Him TODAY!! Paul says in the latter part of 2 Corinthians 6:2 that “..now is the day of salvation.” DON’T WAIT!! Any “righteousness” that you can obtain is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and will never make you “good enough.” That’s why Jesus died for us in the first place, BECAUSE we aren’t “good enough” and never can be good enough on our own!!!

So, to all of my friends who (like me) have believed that they aren’t “good enough,” I encourage you to embrace the truth of grace. Allow Jesus to take away the burdens of unworthiness and legalism as you submit your confession of, “It’s true. I’m not good enough….and THAT is why I need you! Save me from myself!! Redeem me!!”

If anyone wants to talk more about this with me, I am here for you!! I have been there!! I know how you feel (and Satan still tries to trap me with it sometimes). I love you and want to help you through it!! Grace and peace to all of you!!

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