‘ Shouldn’t I be Getting Better? ‘

I’ve been a Christian now for about 50 years or so.

 So you would think that by now I would really be exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, doing all kinds of great things, large and small, and sinning less and less all the time.

But that is not the case. Actually, I don’t think I’m doing very many great things at all, compared to the likes of the Mother Teresas of this world. I haven’t given up my material possesions as Jesus tells His would-be disciples to do. I do not love God and my neighbors as myself. In fact, I quite often can’t stand my God and my neighbors.

As I get closer to the appointed meeting with my Lord, I really (for the most part) see myself as for what and who I really am; the biggest sinner that ever walked the face of the earth.

Sometimes I lay in bed at night and think of people that were long ago forgotten in my life, people that I did hurtful things to. People who’s lives may have been irrreparibly damaged…by me. I think also of the many good things that I had chances to do, but never did do.

I sometimes think of what Pastor Mark tells us, that “it’s not my worst that I should worry about when it comes to God, but rather my best. For the best thing that I have ever done on the best day day of my life…isn’t good enough either.”

This seems like a hopeless situation. I don’t seem to be able to, or desire to do the things that my Lord has commanded me to do. I guess that means I could be in for a really rough go of it on judgement day.

And that would certainly be true, if it were not for one thing that we haven’t talked about until now. I have a Savior. Someone loved me enough to die for me. Someone loved me enough to forgive everything I’ve ever done wrong and everything I’ll ever do wrong. Someone has put my old sinful self to death, on that cross 2,000 years ago, and in a more personal, tangible way, 50 years ago in my baptism.(Romans 6)

So now, as St. Paul says (also in Romans 6), I am to consider myself dead to sin. It’s as if it never happened. I was washed clean, for all eternity, in the waters of my baptism along with the Word of God’s Promise to be my God. He says to me, “you are mine”. He has adopted me into His family.

So whenever I dredge up those memories of wreckage that I’ve caused , I am to realize that these accusations of unworthiness are a lie.  I am worthy. Not because of anything that I have done, or will yet do, but because of what Jesus has done , is doing, and will yet do…for me.

I am declared righteous…for Jesus’ sake.

Getting better for the sake of my employer, my neighbor, my family, is always a good thing. Getting better for the sake of my Lord is not possible beyond what He has already done for me.

If you disagree with what I’ve said, that’s ok, but I would like to know why you feel I’m wrong on this one.


                     – Steve Martin

6 Responses

  1. Thinking about this today…

    That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring-Romans 4.16

    First question: what does the word “it” at the beginning of the sentence refer to?

    Sinners are saved by grace. We are not saved BY faith. To be precise, one is saved BY (God’s) grace THROUGH faith. We must define grace. Who’s grace
    are we talking about. Of course, most will add “God’s” grace. In other words, we are saved by God Himself. “Grace” therefore has nothing to do with us.
    This is God’s disposition to be gracious (kind and good) to sinners instead of just! He doesn’t have to be gracious. He can very well give us what our many, many, many sins deserve! That would be justice given out. But we are considering grace. God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Let alone defining what “faith” is…

    If we are saved by “grace” through faith, then it stands that faith too must be of the same kind…in keeping with grace. This is why the connection in Romans 4.16 is so profound, because it links all key words therein in the same type, kind and family. Here there is absolutely no room whatsoever, at all for boasting in our doing a single solitary thing. 100% means 100%, all of God and nothing of man. One saves because that’s what Saviors do. Someone must be a “save-ee”…meaning they are the rescued ones. To mix up these 2 roles is to lose what grace , faith , promise guarantee is!

    How shall your sins be forgiven? What will you do? What can you do to take away the offense that exists toward this Holy God? How can you, son or daughter of Adam & Eve, ever get back into a pleasing state with your All-knowing Maker? What can take your sin away? Someone must do something to take them away. Either your doing…or someone else’s! How can you know which will work?

  2. danny O.,

    What you’ve said, and the scriptures you’ve quoted seem to add up.

    But what about the other scriptures that say we need to be faithful and fulfill Christ’s commands?

    What about the fruits of the Spirit and living an exemplary life?

    Can we somehow marry this ‘grace of God’ that you speak of, to action on our part to be and do what God wants us to be and do?

    Thanks danny O.

    – Steve

  3. a good tree will always produce good fruit. the latter somes from the former…never vice-versa.

    as our good friend martin luther once said: when faith in Christ is present, you will be doing good works before you can ask what good works must I do!

    remember the woman at the well!!!

  4. Excellent !

    So, the Holy Spirit really does exist!
    And He really does carry out His will, even as He’s putting to death…our wills.

    This God of ours is really starting to act like a sovereign and Almighty God, and not like a stable boy that is there to help us up into the saddle!

    Thanks danny O., for your crystal clear thoughts on the matter.

    – Steve

  5. Steve, if and when you have time please expound on what you mean by the third line in your comment to Danny (HS putting our will to death?). And a scriptural reference that I can study.

  6. Hi Deborah,

    I’m a bit tired now and not all that sharp (as if I ever really am)…but I’ll take a quick stab at it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do better.

    I think what I meant to say to Danny was that our wills are tainted with self…and with impure motives. I believe that is why the Scriptures tell us that even, “our righteous deeds are as filthy rags”.

    So, as St. Paul points out in Romans 7, we do what we shouldn’t…and we don’t do what we ought.

    But, in Romans 6, St. Paul tells us that God does put our sinful wills to death, for us…in baptism. And now (even though we still sin – Rom. 7), “we are to consider ourselves dead to sin” (Rom. 6)…but by anything that we do, say, feel, or think…but by God’s action for us in baptism. That is to say that He brings the cross to bear in our lives, in real time, in our personal histories, in a concrete and tangible way. So that we can have the assurance of our salvation from outside of ourselves. Looking inward for any assurance is a very dubious exercise. One that will either lead to despair…or pride.

    Thanks, Deborah.

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