Day 25

The Message of Christ

from the Romans reading plan


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

BY Missy Fuller

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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Post Comments (46)

46 thoughts on "The Message of Christ"

  1. Sadie says:

    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.

    1. Hailey T. says:

      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!

  2. Andrea says:

    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!

  3. Diane Huntsman says:

    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

    1. Emily B. says:

      Love this!

    2. Jacqui says:

      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.

    3. Sarah says:

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

  4. jill-smiles says:

    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.

  5. Caroline says:

    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

  6. Aimeejoy says:

    ‘”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:)

    1. Michelle says:

      Amen!

    2. Alyssa says:

      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.

      1. Aimeejoy says:

        @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.

  7. songbird says:

    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.

    1. churchmouse says:

      Praying right now for deliverance

  8. Tochi Heredia says:

    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.

    1. Emily says:

      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!

      1. Tochi Heredia says:

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

      2. Ceil says:

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

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