“Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to His mercy He saved us…” Titus 3:5
One little word expresses the false idea many have of how we as human beings get to heaven—DO. It seems intrinsic to our natural minds to think that if we do well enough in living our lives then God will accept us. We presume that God determines whether or not we’ve done well enough by putting the bad we’ve done on one side of His divine scales and the good we’ve done on the other side and if the scales tip in favor of our goodness we are measured as “acceptable”.
In the Old Testament God spoke to a pagan king and said, “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27). God told king Belshazzar, “You don’t measure up!” The scales were tipped against him and that same night he lost his kingdom and his very life. The truth is we all come up short when God weighs us in His balance. That’s because God doesn’t weigh our good works against our bad works rather, He weighs our life and all our goodness against His holiness. Because the scale opposite our lives holds the weight of God’s perfection none of us measure up.
This is quite a dilemma. What can we possibly do to measure up against perfection?
In the work of Christ on the cross God’s grace supplies us with what we need to measure up. One word expresses this act of grace—DONE. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When Jesus died on the cross He took all our sin upon His broad and holy shoulders and died for them. After six hours on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” The work of removing all our bad so that we can measure up to God’s standard of perfect goodness was accomplished.
When we place our faith and trust in the finished work of Christ we are made perfect. We become “the righteousness of God in Him.” By His grace we measure up to the standard God’s holiness demands.
We are not saved by what we DO; we are saved by what Christ has DONE.
Humbling, isn't it? Yet, it is also freeing! I no longer have to live with the uncertain fear that I will come up short. I can have the assurance that I really do measure up to what God expects and must have—perfect righteousness! This righteousness can never be attained but it can be received. No wonder the scripture says, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Receiving such a gift will leave me with a grateful heart. And out of this grateful heart I strive to live for Christ—not to show God that I am worthy of His salvation but to show God that I am grateful that He has made me worthy through the sacrifice of His Son.
“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” Titus 3:5-7 NLT