|Strategy :||Save myself|
|Goal :||Measure my merits|
|Self-analysis :||I may be bad, but if I work harder…..|
|Theology :||Reimburse God|
|Bumper Sticker :||“ I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go!”|
|Complaint :||I can’t work enough|
|Favourite Animal :||Beaver|
|Spends Time Looking :||Over the list of requirements|
|View of Grace :||Not me!|
|View of Sin :||I’m always guilty|
|Work Ethic :||What God demands is my business.|
|Favourite Phrase :||Get to work!|
|Boundaries :||If it feels good, stop it.|
|Paul's Pronouncement :||You have no solution for the problem you have.|
|Key Verse:||“…..People cannot do any work that will make them right with God.” (4:5)|
Can you relate to the brother in the River?
Ahh, now here is a son we respect. Hard-working. Industrious. Zealous. Intense. Here is a fellow who sees his sin and sets out to resolve it by himself. Surely he is worthy of our applause. Surely he is worthy of our applause. Surely he is worthy of our emualtion. And, most surely, he is worthy of the father’s mercy. Won’t the father throw open the castle doors when he sees how hard the son has worked to get home?
With no help from the father, the legalist is tackling the odds and fording the river of failure. Surely, the father will be happy to see him. That is, if the father ever does.
You see, the problem is not the affection of the father but the strength of the river. What sucked the son away from his father’s house was no gentle stream but rather a roaring torrent. Is the son strong enough to build an upriver path to the father’s house?
Doubtful. We certainly can’t. “There is no one who always does what is right, not even one” (Rom 3:10). Oh, but we try. We don’t stack rocks in a river, but we do good deeds on earth.
We think: If I do this God
will accept me.
If I teach this class…….and we pick up a rock.
If I go to church……..and we put the rock in the stream.
If I give this money…….another rock.
If I read my Bible, have the right opinion on the right doctrine, If I join this movement………Rock upon rock upon rock!
- You may take five steps, but you have five million to go.
The river is too long. What separates us form God is not a shallow stream but a tumbling, cascading, overwhelming river of sin .We stack and stack and satck only to find we can barely keep our footing, much less make progress.
The impact on the rock-stackers is remarkably predictable: either despair or arrogance. They either give up or become stuck-up. They think they’ll never make it, or they think they are the only ones who’ll ever make it. Strange, how two people can look at the same stacked rocks and one hang his head and the other puff out his chest.
Call the condition a religious godlessness. It’s the theme behind Paul’s brazen pronouncements: “We’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everyone else” (3:19 MSG)
Quite a trio, don’t you think?
The First on a barstool.
The Second in the judge’s chair.
The Third on the church pew.
Though they may appear different, they are very
much alike. All are separated from the Father. And none is asking
The first indulges his passions, the second monitors his neighbour, and the third measures his merits.
Self-satisfaction. Self-justification. Self-salvation. The operative word is self.
Self-sufficient. “they never give God the time of day” (3:18 MSG)
Paul’s word for this is godlessness (Rom 1:18 NIV)
Godlessness - The word defines itself. A life minus God.
Worse than a disdain for God, this is a disregard for God. A disdain at least acknowledges his presence. Godlessness doesn’t. Whereas disdain will lead people to with irreverence, disregard causes them to act as if God were irrelevant, as if he is not a factor in the journey.