You do not deserve God’s favor. No one does. It is not until we have fully accepted that understanding that we can even approach God. There is absolutely nothing we can do to achieve God’s standard of righteousness. Our only hope is that God will accept us in spite of our flawed human nature. Our salvation is a gift from God. It is not something we can bring about in our own power.
“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9:16 (NIV)
Even if we live a perfect life, we still fall short. What we do is not as important as who we are. When we demonstrate a true dependency on God, and accept by faith that he sent His Son as our Savior, we have opened up the opportunity to experience God’s mercy.
“The people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.” Romans 9:31-32 (NIV)
It is only when we accept the fact that we can’t achieve the righteousness of God in our own power, that we are ironically given the power to achieve the righteousness of God.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NIV)
This is an issue of the heart. There is no mental calculus we must decipher. There is no physical accomplishment we must complete. All we need to do is truly and honestly believe.
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:10 (NIV)
That honest expression of faith expressed publicly to the world is our ticket to all eternity.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NIV)
God created us as arrogant, self-assured creatures that chase their own selfish desires. It is that human nature that we must overcome. God wants us to turn our attention to caring for others rather than ourselves. When we make that transition, He will then bestow upon on us that which we cannot achieve on our own.
“For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” Romans 11:32 (NIV)
This is the way God designed our existence. We were made to stumble. We were made to believe that we are fully capable of anything. Only when we realize God is completely in charge and humble ourselves before Him, are we eligible to receive His mercy.
“For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:36 (NIV)
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