But we are all an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. – Isaiah 64:6
I was checking out an old sermon last week from the early 1800’s. Honestly, it was difficult to understand, and I wasn’t getting a lot out of it, but then I came across these 5 words: “Receive Christ, don’t purchase Him.” I just read those words over and over. After about a week of contemplating them in my mind, I sure wish I had heard this years ago.
How many times have I expected that my behavior would win His favor? How many times have I thought that God would answer my prayer because I’ve been “doing pretty good”? Basically, there have been too many times in my life where I have lived performance-based Christianity. Why would anyone buy into this? The Bible clearly states that the righteousness that we think we do on our own are as “filthy rags.”
When you feel like you have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, what is your first reaction? Before you read on, really answer that question. My first instinct is to beat myself up for a while. Then, I will read the Bible, pray for a long time, read an old sermon, listen to a sermon, take a drive, or take a walk. None of those things are bad at all, but as I look back, I wonder what my intentions were in doing them. Something in me thinks that I might have been trying to earn God’s forgiveness and favor by doing religious things.
From this point on, I really hope that God will remind me of these five words. No matter where I am in life, or what I’ve done, may I simply receive His forgiveness. In Romans 6:23 it clearly says, “The wages of sin is death.” So many times, I stop right there and beat myself up for a while. I’ll end up praying to God and making my prayers all about what I deserve. If I’d just read on and finish the verse, “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If someone gives you a gift, all you can do is receive it. You don’t say, “How much do I owe you?” You certainly don’t go working for that person in an attempt to earn what they’ve already given you. Let’s not do this with God.
Lord, my mind races with all the times I really thought I was earning Your favor. You did all the work that will ever be required on the cross at Calvary. This morning, I simply receive Your forgiveness once more. Make me clean, pure, and holy. Sanctify me by the power of Thy Word. There is and never will be anyone like You. I pray for all who would read today that they would simply receive You. Not make any deals with You to do better . . . Just receive You. Amen