Earned or Given?

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"Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." - Romans 4:4-5

Is your righteousness (or right standing) with God earned or given? In his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul explains that if someone works, the wages they earn are not a gift from their employer but their due. He gives this illustration to show that this is not how it works when it comes to your righteousness (or right standing) with God. There is nothing that you have done, are doing or will do that will earn you right standing with God. This is because even your best works in this life are tainted by sin. Even when you sometimes do the right thing, you often do it with the wrong motives. You are completely unable to make yourself right with God because of sin's pollution in your thoughts, words and deeds.

So what is your hope for righteousness (or right standing) with God? Don't try to work your way into a right standing with God - that's impossible. Instead, believe in Jesus Christ who justifies the ungodly. Believe in him who exchanges your sin for his righteousness (or right standing) with God. When you turn to Christ, your faith is counted as righteousness (or right standing) with God. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the one mediator between God and humanity. He is your substitute. He stood in your place. He lived the life you should have lived (perfectly obedient to God the Father) and he died the death you deserved on the cross so you would be declared righteous. As John Calvin once put it, "Faith is like an empty, open hand stretched out towards God, with nothing to offer and everything to receive." Come to Jesus Christ with that kind of faith today. He offers you his righteousness (or right standing) with God as a gift! 

For Jesus,

Pastor Mark

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