It's time to let go of "salvation by self-help." God's free gift of true righteousness is much better!
Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God… . [T]here’s so much more. Let’s get on with it! Heb 6:1a (MSG)
Self-help. It’s the American way, isn’t it? Three steps to do this. Four steps to do that. And it’s a great way to repair a car or reconcile a bank statement, but it’s an awful way to live your true, inner life. Yet so many people rely on “salvation by self-help.” They think all their hard work makes God like them better—or at least dislike them a little less. You know the drill: “God, I taught a Sunday School class and donated to the food bank and drove the church bus for years! You owe me!”
Yet Scripture says that all of our self-effort, all of our self-righteousness, is like filthy rags to God. It’s not that He doesn’t appreciate our efforts. It’s just that our self-effort can’t bring us life. Only God’s presence can do that (Isaiah 64:6, John 10:10).
Why dress in rags when the Lord has given us robes of righteousness? When we trust in Jesus, God sees us as completely forgiven, loved, and accepted. Nothing we do can make Him love us more. Nothing we do can make Him love us less, either. We can come into His throne room any time; we’re dressed in the robes of our big brother, Jesus (Isaiah 61:10, Philippians 3:7-9).
Being loved like that changes us. There’s a grace, a peace, and a security that comes over our lives. It’s like we carry the fragrance of Heaven with us wherever we go. We’ll still do things for the Lord, of course—but differently. We’re no longer trying to buy our way into God’s love. Instead, we’re already there, and simply living out of it!
Father, I’m giving up the idea of salvation by self-help. How silly to think that anything I do could add to what Jesus has already done for me! I’m taking off the filthy rags of my own self effort. Thank You for clothing me in the beautiful robes of righteousness that Jesus purchased for me. Please teach me how to live like that, not trying to buy my way into Your love but simply living out of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.