Romans: Day 25

The Message of Christ

by

Today's Text: Romans 10:1-21, Isaiah 52:7, Joel 2:32, Galatians 3:7-14

Scripture Reading: Romans 10:1-21, Isaiah 52:7, Joel 2:32, Galatians 3:7-14

I sat on the plush, cream-colored sofa, helping my mentor fold laundry while her two-year-old played on the floor. I was a senior in college, involved in campus ministry and leading a Bible study, and I enthusiastically updated her on both endeavors. I’d begun telling yet another story when she calmly interrupted me with a simple, matter-of-fact statement: “You believe in a works-based gospel.”

We’d known each other a while, and her statement stunned me. Was she serious?

I quickly brushed it off in the moment. But later that week, I found myself kneeling by the side of my bed, soaking my plaid, purple bedspread with tears. She was right.

There I was, wallowing in my sin, wanting desperately to be back in the loving arms of my Savior. I had asked for forgiveness, but the relief wasn’t coming. As I poured my guilty conscience onto the pages of my journal, I was struck by one word: time.

That’s what I thought I needed: time. I didn’t really want forgiveness. I wanted time—enough time to fill my life up with the right things, the good things, to settle the score. It was salvation by works at its worst.

All my striving, all my desire to put time between myself and my mistakes, it was another attempt to earn my salvation through my own effort. Rather than trusting the work of Christ on the cross for my righteousness, I had become dependent on my own actions to save me.

I was living exactly like the Israelites Paul describes in Romans 10:

Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness (v. 3).

After Christ’s death and resurrection, Israel was still working hard to keep the Law of Moses in order to gain righteousness. They were working to save themselves, forgetting that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (v. 4).

The law, our works, the right things—they were never supposed to save us. God had planned our salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ all along. Christ is the only perfect fulfillment, the only victory we have over sin and death. His perfect life allows us to be justified through our faith alone. Faith and nothing else, just Jesusthis is the message of Christ.

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13).

As I knelt beside my bed that day, I realized Jesus truly was all I needed. His sacrifice covered me then, despite all my striving, and it covers me today. I need His righteousness, not my own. He is enough.

Friends, no matter what our past, present, or future holds, the only work that can save us is the work Christ completed on the cross. May we call on His name.

One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation (v. 10).

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  • Karen From Virginia

    I am so prone to evaluate my standing with God based on what I think I have done right or wrong. It is a constant battle to submit and enjoy the truth that God is taking care of everything. That Jesus alone have satisfied my need for righteousness and forgiveness. Hallelujah! Thank you Lord that this is the truth that we can rest it today. May my boast be in the cross of Christ and what he is done.

  • This is EXACTLY where I am in my walk. I’ve been ‘saved’ since I was 11 (16 years now) but I believe I’m just now learning the Gospel and who Jesus is. All of Christ and none of me – THIS is what He’s teaching me. It’s a painful but sweet and freeing lesson to learn and it’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.

    • Hailey T.

      I am in exactly the same place, Sadie. Same ages and all! some days I am overwhelmed by learning and absorbing God’s message, but lots of days I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this glorious life. Blessings to you!

  • Vs 21 “all day long I have held out my hand to a disobedient and contrary people” really spoke to me today. It seems like there are many people like me who struggle with trying to earn our way into God’s heart and not truly believing that He is enough. I am so grateful that He continues to hold out his hand to this contrary person and am challenged to do the same for those disobedient (my children especially) in my own life!

  • Diane Huntsman

    Unfortunately, the experience with church had taught me that as long as I’m useful (serve serve serve) I am valuable and when I am not serving, I lose my value.. so this mixup trickles into my view of God.. God I’m only of real value to You when I’m working for You, right??
    Service is not bad.. but it should flow out of a heart of gratitude for All He has done, not due to a misunderstanding of how He deems us valuable..
    We are valued because Jesus deems us as such.. nothing we can do can add to nor take away a from the value placed upon us.. serve to express loving Him not to earn love..it’s a slippery slope to find the right rhythm in it all.. may Jesus help us truly understand grace.. that unearned.. unmerited favor. Hugs xo

    • Emily B.

      Love this!

    • Jacqui

      Yes I agree, acts of service is how I show my love back to God…my love language. But sometimes those acts of love become twisted into just acts, and I find I am doing them out of a sense of duty rather than love. The church can sometimes ask in a way that reinforces duty and a righteousness by works approach. I want to be secure enough in my relationship with God to be able to say no, and not feel like I am a disappointment to him.

    • Sarah

      Thanks for sharing this. It have me a knowledge of Christ and works have not thought of before.

  • jill-smiles

    I was the same way in college.. but it took me much longer, almost to middle age before I realized that faith and relationship with Jesus/God is the only way to salvation, not my own works. Although it took me a long time to get there, to everything there is a season… I now feel better equipped to help young adults in their spiritual walk.

  • Caroline

    Love this message on righteousness. “Friends, no matter what our past, present, or future holds, the only work that can save us is the work Christ completed on the cross. May we call on His name.” So thankful! So thankful <3

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • Aimeejoy

    ‘”For with the heart one believes and is justified and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. for the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to SHAME” (Romans 10:9-11).
    I have been listening and reading Curt Thompson’s work about stories of shame. Shame and sin have appeared together in throughout the bible. I believe Shame is not a sin, but instead a tool that can be used to the result of sin (i.e. separation from relationship with God). For example, we see shame immediately after Adam and Eve eat the apple in the garden, whereas before, “they were naked and unashamed” (gen 2:25). When we act out of shame, or a feeling that “I am not enough”, it results in us trying to prove that we are enough through righteous living. But my goal is to lean deeper into who God says I am. To allow myself to know and be known by my creator. For in Him there is no Shame:)

    • Michelle

      Amen!

    • Alyssa

      I believe that guilt (a sense of wrongdoing) can compel us towards God’s gift of forgiveness and that shame is a tool used against us by Satan to keep us from accepting mercy and forgiveness. There is a guilt always attached to sin, but according to the gospel (and the Romans letter we’re studying) when we are in Christ we are freed from condemnation and shame because of the cross. Sadly, the enemy has been, since Adam and Eve like you mentioned, coercing people toward a shame-grid, a prison of sorts, that keeps even believers from living in the freedom God offers.

      • Aimeejoy

        @alyssa, Yes! And it is fascinating looking at the cognitive growth and development of a child– They don’t even develop the capability to understand that their actions effect others (and further, the ability to feel a sense of guilt about negative consequences) until age three! At age three they begin developing a sense of self and other. So shame (a sense that I am not enough/ I am a failure) seems to be something that is automatic to feel, whereas when we learn the effects of actions, we learn guilt (a sense of wrong doing in the context of relationship that needs reconciliation). Shame isolates people from relationship, whereas guilt moves people toward reconciliation, and therefore closer to others. Good thoughts on the difference between shame and guilt! It is often easy to think that because shame is negative, then guilt is negative. But it is good to remember the different outcomes of both.

  • songbird

    Sorry it’s not very much related to this particular devotion, but can I just ask for prayer for the young people in my work town? The devil is constantly trying to wreak havoc and my heart is burdened for the young, vulnerable and naive.

  • Tochi Heredia

    Today’s reading confronted me with something awful about myself.
    I know I can’t be righteous on my own and I do believe in salvation by grace alone. However, I have been hiding under my inadequacy to do good works as a result of the faith that I cling to. I’ve been letting my guilt and my powerlessness justify my actions, as if I didn’t have any other choice but to continue sinning. It’s so ugly I have the urge to look away.

    I don’t want to do that, but I still do so regularly. I’m tired of sabotaging myself and inflicting pain on myself. I wish it was under different circumstances, but today I’m exhausted, collapsing by God’s feet, and surrendering my frail attempts at self-justification in exchange for forgiveness and freedom from sin.
    Father, help me to live under the light of your freedom. Forgive my iniquities, clean my heart, renew my mind, give me a steadfast spirit.

    • Emily

      In the eyes of God you are always enough… the sins we have committed and will commit and the times we let the enemy take control are not what he sees when he looks at us…. He sees Jesus and he sees a Royal Priesthood and he sees in us everything He created us to be. I know some seasons feel like they will never end and there is nothing to be done to break those chains, but never forget that the battle has already been WON. The victory is ours and we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. I will be praying for you this morning!

      • Tochi Heredia

        This afternoon was a particularly difficult one. Thank you for your encouraging words, Emily

      • Ceil

        Thank you for these words. They are so comforting to me ~

  • churchmouse

    I welcome summer every year by carefully painting my toes a different color, just for fun (and my three year old granddaughter thinks it’s awesome). But there’s another reason-nail polish improves the look. My toes, well actually my feet, are not the most attractive. In fact, I think most feet, as I’ve observed at the beach, are not very appealing lol. So Isaiah 52:7 made me chuckle this morning. Want beautiful feet? Forget about the nail polish. Beautiful feet are those that go about their day proclaiming the good news of salvation through Jesus. So as I touch up my toenail polish this morning, I’ll pray for God to direct my steps and open my mouth to speak of Him today. Sweet friends, let’s color our world with the gospel! It extends far beyond the summer season.

    • ssbbaker

      I love that image! Lord, help us women to remember that beautiful feet are those that go about their day speaking of you, praising you, thanking you. I pray that would be us today!

      • Jessica McCann

        This was beautiful and so sweet. Thanks for the encouragement Churchmouse

    • Cynthia

      Going for a pedicure today and will pray for an opportunity to share the Good News with the nail tech. Joining you in coloring our world with the Gospel!

    • Nicole

      Love this, churchmouse! I will be following in your footsteps (no pun intended) and praying for God to direct my steps as well. May God bless you!

  • Christina

    1. There is a zeal for God that does not result in salvation.
    2. The righteousness that is faith-based is founded on belief, confession, and calling on Jesus.
    3. One must hear the truth to have faith in the truth.
    4. Not all who hear the truth will believe the truth or obey it.
    5. God has always used methods to save His people and glorify Himself that do not make sense in human terms.
    6. One of our goals as Christ-believers and confessors should be to be the blessed feet of Jesus that brings the Good News to those who have not heard, or who need to hear again in order to believe.
    7. Working of our own accord to please God by doing enough good cannot save us, because we can never keep the entire law. The only righteousness that pleases Him is the righteousness that keeps the entire law. But Christ took that impossible feat from us by becoming a curse in our place. And our acceptance of the fact that we cannot please God on our own, and acknowledgement of our need of Jesus provides us not only His accomplished righteousness, but also the Holy Spirit to seal us as belonging to the Father and to live through us rightly where we tend to choose not to.

  • I recently listened to a teacher speak about our rewards in heaven and how they will be based on what we have done with Gpds blessings while here on earth. His comments that all believers will go to heaven but not all will be rewarded or in high regard with God. This is confusing to me….Anyone have some insight to share here? Thank you Missy for your devotion today.

    • Bobbie

      The Scriptures lay out a careful distinction between works for salvation and works because of our salvation.
      Once we are saved through faith by the blood of Christ, we exhibit this by our confession and how we live. An example might be following the Lord in baptism, working in some type of outreach ministry or just plain being a good citizen.
      We love our enemies, we are kind-hearted, we don’t lie, cheat or steal, etc. We live out the fruits of the Spirit and serve others. Why? Not to gain favor or salvation but it is what Jesus did.
      As for rewards in heaven, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 addresses this. Dr Charles Ryrie writes, “The works discussed here have nothing to do with earning salvation. The rewards (or loss of them) pertains only to Christians.”
      1 John 2:3 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep his commandments.” This whole chapter addresses our obedience not FOR salvation but BECAUSE of salvation.
      Hope this helps! Blessings to you!

    • Heather

      Hi Anne,
      Thanks for your question! We have recently had an in depth study of this very thing, God rewards you in Heaven, for eternity, for what you have overcomed here on Earth. It’s more than you overcoming “things” or sin and more about intimacy with Him. The main teaching comes from Revelation 2-3. If you are interested in going deeper with this here is a link to all sessions in the class: http://www.restorationlife.org/th_gallery/the-overcomers/

      I also was confused about this and had many questions. I know I’m no scholar on this matter (nowhere close) but I do feel like I have gained revelation through this teaching. Praying He will bring revelation and understanding to you, for He can turn the hard things into easy and doesn’t bring confusion.

  • This is a theme I’ve been hearing repeatedly lately, and I think Jesus wants me to start getting into my head! Although I know that works cannot save me, my mind always says “But if you loved God enough, your actions would show it better. They would be a better reflection of the relationship you have with him.” And I DO think that love/actions can (and should) pour out of you when you have a relationship with Him. But I think I need to remember that while those actions are good and important, the amount of them is not related to the “strength” of my salvation through Jesus. If that makes sense? As a previous poster said, this is a topic that takes regular examination for me!

    • Christina

      Me, too, Caitie! I often begin to think that my life does not reflect my belief in Jesus enough, that I’m exhibiting a lazy faith. I will plunge with zeal into finding good things to do in order for my life to reflect my faith. I even seek to temper my works with slowing down (not pushing full steam ahead into every good opportunity that presents itself) and finding out just what the Spirit is guiding me to do, since I know that nothing done without the Spirit’s guiding and power can please God. But then in the midst of the excitement and fervor of all the work, I get blindsided with depression. I’m not sure I’d ever look at depression as God’s gift of lovingly turning me back to His work in my life and not my own, but I will have to say it is quite a source of self-examination, for sure! Thanks for sharing this today!

  • LivingJoyfully

    I have struggled and continue to struggle against the sense that what I do changes how God sees me. Season after season I hit moments where I realize “I’m doing it again.” Thank you, Jesus, for seeing fit to open salvation to ALL who call on your name. Thank you that you know me and remind me to quit trying to be good enough for you.

    The struggle is real, but Jesus offers us freedom. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” v.10

  • Elisabeth7291

    This is a message that my sweet Savior has been repeating to me in so many ways – stop striving. Stop striving to be good enough to deserve your salvation. People talk about how your perception of your earthly father can taint your perception of your heavenly one. For me, I think it my earthly boss. I strive so hard to please, to succeed, to have awesome results so that he is happy that it has messed with how I perceive my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I don’t have to be perfect for Him to be pleased with me. In fact, I can’t do anything to make Him love me more or less.

    I’m realizing also as I type this that I’ve got some confession to do about who I’m trying to please more – my boss or my Lord.

    Thank you #SRT for these moments of sharing and reflection.

  • "Other" Karen

    It is so easy to start doing good works for the right reasons (for God’s glory, thankfulness) , only to slide into works righteousness when I start seeing results (“I did it”). Such a struggle! It requires regular examination of the heart through prayer.

    • Emily B.

      You explained the struggle perfectly. That’s something I feel from time to time, too. I have to examine my motives and why I feel led to whatever it is I’m doing–is it for God’s glory, or is it for my own? Thank you for your post!

    • ssbbaker

      The switch to “I did it” it something I totally resonate with, and I think it happens most when I’m in situations where I’m OK if God doesn’t “show up.”
      I recently got into grad school, and I was SO at the Lord’s mercy when I was waiting for acceptance letters and figuring out how to write my applications. Now that I’m in, and everyone is congratulating me, I’m of the attitude that “I did it.” When truly, this is all the Lord’s work. I pray we can both (all) regularly examine our hearts through prayer to see this for the lie that it is.
      Thanks, “other” Karen for your insight!

  • This was so powerful Missy!!! Beautifully written

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