Makeshift Morality

Makeshift Morality.jpg
 
 

What do you do when you mess up?

Is your first response to hold your hands up and say sorry?

Mine isn’t.

I desperately scramble to assign the blame elsewhere. I ignore the sorry state of my shattered virtue and reject the undeniable reality of my guilt.

But when I refuse to confess my guilt to God I disregard the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings. We are not perfect, and God’s standard is perfection. I'm choosing to present my flimsy ‘goodness’ for assessment against His perfect standard, instead of grasping with both hands the perfect righteousness that Jesus has already given me!

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.
— Isaiah 64:6

I’m choosing to say:

“It wasn’t actually my fault, it was because of x,y,z.”

instead of:

“I am lost without you God, please forgive me.”
 

 

Why is it so hard for us to accept that God doesn’t want our makeshift morality?

Why is it so hard for us to drop the rags of our innocence and dive into the perfect depths of grace that Jesus bought for us with His life?

Because within each of us resides an expert defence lawyer whose sole purpose is to preserve the flaky veneer of our broken righteousness in the kangaroo court of our hearts.

They leap to our defence in the face of any accusation and coerce us into believing that we aren’t the biggest problem in our lives.

They convince us that our impatience is only because of the difficult people we have to deal with every day. They tell us that our anger is only because of the bad influences around us. They coax us into thinking that we only sin because of the temptation we’re bombarded with. They point the finger of blame at colleagues, friends, family, injustice, difficulty or a catalogue of other excuses - anything but ourselves.

On the surface they might sound like our most loyal allies, but they are in fact our most deadly enemies.

Why?

Because they stand between us and God.

We are blinded by our inner lawyer to the severity of our spiritual need. We’re shown virtue that we don’t have and screened from the sin that stains every day of our lives. We’re willing co-conspirators in this spiritual malpractice as we begin to think of ourselves as fundamentally ‘good’ people. We then defend that ‘goodness’ and condemn anything that threatens our indulgence in the delusion of it. We refuse to accept blame and we stop confessing the sin we can no longer see.

But this acceptance and confession is the very essence of the gospel.

There is no one righteous, not even one.
— Romans 3:10

Christianity is not about trying to be good enough. It isn’t about trying to do more good things than bad things. It isn't about presenting ourselves as 'good' to God by refusing to acknowledge that we’ve done anything wrong. It is accepting that trying to be good enough for God will always end in failure. It is openly confessing this failure and crying out to God for forgiveness.

He has already made a perfect way for you to know Him. He doesn’t want you to try and make your own.

We have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
— 1 John 2:1

The Bible makes it clear that we are not made right by our works, not by our efforts, not by our performance - but by faith. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in what He’s already done - not what you’ve failed to do. You do that, you’re declared pure by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven.

This doesn't mean that we are then free to live sinful lives with a clear conscience, rather that we are free to pursue holy lives in response to Jesus' sacrifice, out of gratitude and love, not fearful obligation.

So cry out today that you might have eyes to see. Let go of your inner lawyer and abandon the defence of your makeshift morality. Stand naked, without excuse or defence and be unafraid. Know that all that has been exposed has been fully and completely covered by Jesus. Know that your standing with God isn’t dependent on you. Know that God has given grace that has the power to do what nothing else can do - rescue you from you.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
— Ephesians 2:8-10
 
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