Gaining Favor from God
We cannot please God by trying to be good! I can fill my whole life with good works. Think good thoughts, speak words of truth and wisdom. Give away everything that I own, and meditate on God’s word. It is all good, but that is not it.
I was saved when I was six. I remember that I was excited about it. Over the years it faded further into the shadows of my mind. I had so many other things to worry about. Eventually I was not quite sure of what salvation was any longer. Was it a free gift from God, and all I had to do was to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, or did it require me to live according to certain rules, and to do good works? I seemed to be getting mixed messages when I read the Bible, and listened to preachers.
Living out our Faith
Why, if it is a free gift, does the Bible talk about living a righteous life? Don’t do certain things, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give to the poor, think no impure thoughts, love everyone?
I tried to do the right thing, and I guess for awhile I felt that God must love me, since I’m so good. I would eventually fail, one way or another. This separated me from God. I no longer was good enough to earn His love. I believed that Jesus died for my sins, but surely that was not enough. I also had to earn God’s love.
Confused, I went to God and asked Him to help me understand. Guess what? He did help me to see what being saved really means. He told me that there was nothing that I could do to earn His love. I could never be perfect on my own. As a matter of fact, I did not have to do anything else, than what I had done as a six year old child. Believe that God sent Jesus to die for my sins on the cross, and accept that as payment for my sins.
Loving God Genuinely
An interesting thing happened. By realizing the love that God had shown me, and that I was not required to live up to a high moral standard to earn His love, I began to love Him back. I was free. What happened now was that I no longer had to try to live a life of pleasing God. He had already sacrificed Jesus for me because He knew that I was incapable of following a written law. It changed my heart. It is funny, but now I want to live my life to please Him. When I fail I still know that He loves me enormously. I ask Him for forgiveness and continue to love Him.
So we are saved only by believing in God’s son, Jesus Christ, and accept his death on the cross as payments for our sins. When we truly understand this, it changes our hearts. We no longer try to do good, we WANT to do good. If we are saved and can’t feel this change in our lives, we need to seek God and let Him become the center of our lives.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. – Colossians 2:13-15