Lest Anyone Should Boast
“You have confessed your sins, and in heart put them away. You have resolved to give yourself to God. Now go to Him, and ask that He will wash away your sins and give you a new heart." (Steps to Christ)
On this post, I will be addressing what follows your decision to follow Christ. Once you have already confessed your sins and turned away from them in your heart, that is, you are no longer planning or looking forward to committing that sin in the future. Once you have resolved to give yourself completely to God, which is awesome! The question then becomes, now what? How do I go about living my life as someone wholly dedicated to God, as someone who has decided to turn my back on my previous life? What do I do now?
Lest Anyone Should Boast
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV (bold mine)
On this post I really want to highlight the fact that God saves us, it is a gift, and all the honor and glory must go to God and that is the reason why no one can ever boast in their walk with God. All the good in our lives comes from God and even the good we do is only because of Him. I also want you to keep in mind that God has a path prepared for you, a path full of good works.
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13 NKJV
As the Holy Spirit awakens/revitalizes your conscience, you begin to see something of the evil of sin, of its power, its guilt, its misery; and you look at it with repugnance. You now feel that sin has separated you from God, you recognize that you are in bondage to the power of evil. The more you struggle to escape, the more you realize your helplessness. Your motives are impure; your heart is unclean. You realize that your life has been filled with selfishness and sin. You yearn to be forgiven, to be cleansed, to be set free. What can you do to obtain harmony with God? To be more like Him?
You need peace. You need heaven's forgiveness and peace and love in the soul. However, money cannot buy it, intellect cannot get a hold of it it, wisdom cannot reach it. You can never hope, by your own efforts, to secure it. The good news is that God offers it to you as a gift, “without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1.
It is yours if you will just reach out your hand and grasp it. The Lord says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. (Adapted from Steps to Christ chapter 6)
You must believe that Jesus forgives your sins and saves you because He has promised. Don’t rely on your feelings. So many are concerned with feeling saved or behaving saved they forget to believe they are saved.
Think about it this way.
You are a sinner.
You cannot atone for your past sins; you cannot change your heart and make yourself holy.
But God promises to do all this for you through Christ.
Now you have to believe that promise. You must confess your sins and give yourself to God. From the bottom of your heart, you honestly want to serve Him. As you do this, God will fulfill His word to you. If you believe the promise, believe that you are forgiven and cleansed, God supplies the fact; you are made whole, just as Christ gave the paralytic power to walk when the man believed that he was healed. It is so if you believe it. (Matthew 9:1-8)
You might be thinking this is too good to be true. You might be thinking it is too easy. This is too amazing, right? Well, we call it amazing grace for a reason.
If you’re anything like me, you want to feel it. You want to feel saved. You want your spine to tingle, you want all your problems to melt away, all your temptations to disappear, and for life to become a bed of roses. When this doesn’t happen you begin to wonder whether you’re really saved, whether the gospel is really true.
Many may be aware that when we pray we must submit to God’s will. It is true, even Jesus, while here on earth, submitted to the will of the Father. (Matthew 26:39; Matthew 6:10) However, when we pray regarding our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, we already know it is God’s will. It is the will of God to cleanse us from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life. So we can ask for these blessings and believe that we receive them, and thank God that we have received them.
Do you get it?
It is our privilege to go to Jesus and be cleansed and to stand before the law without shame or remorse. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1.
No turning back, no turning back…
There is one simple rule, once you give yourself fully to Jesus, do not go back to your old ways, do not give up, do not walk away from God. Do not draw back, do not take yourself away from Him, but instead say, “I am Christ's; I have given myself to Him;” and ask Him to give you His Spirit and keep you by His grace. Do this every day, day by day. It is by giving yourself to God and believing Him, that you become His child. Doing this daily is how you will live in Him.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7. NKJV
But, But, But…
Our tendency is to feel like we must be on probation, and must first prove to God that we are better, before we are allowed to claim His blessing. But the truth is that we may claim the blessing of God even right now. Here is the deal, we must have God’s grace, the Spirit of Christ, to help us in our weaknesses, otherwise we are unable to resist evil.
Please understand that Jesus loves to have us come to Him just as we are, sinful, helpless, dependent. We may come to Him with all our weakness, our foolishness, our sinfulness, and fall at His feet in repentance. It is His glory to encircle us in the arms of His love and to bind up our wounds, to cleanse us from all impurity. (Steps to Christ page 52)
Why is it that we struggle so much to believe that God’s promises are for us? Why is it so difficult for me to believe that Jesus died to save me?
Perhaps it is because nothing in this world functions anywhere remotely like the kingdom of heaven. Grace is difficult to accept, it is challenging to believe in the gospel as it is presented in the Bible.
Write this down and repeat it to yourself until you cannot possibly forget it.
Christ’s blessings are for every repentant transgressor.
Strength and grace have been provided through Christ to be brought by ministering angels to every believing soul. You are not so sinful that you cannot find strength, purity, and righteousness in Jesus, who died for you. He is waiting to strip you of your garments stained and polluted with sin, and to put upon you the white robe of righteousness; He wants you to live and not die.
How arrogant you must be to believe that you can outsin God’s ability to forgive and save.
Let’s take a look at some of the things the apostle Paul has to say about God’s righteousness and how to attain it in Romans 3.
Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20 NKJV
Paul clearly establishes one of the roles of God’s law, and that is to bring about the knowledge of sin (cf Romans 7:7), while also pointing out what falls outside the purpose of God’s law, that is, the law is unable to bring about justification. In other words, obedience to the law is not a viable means or obtaining justification. If we could obtain justification by the deeds of the law we would not have needed to have Jesus come, we could simply save ourselves with proper discipline, guidance, and environment.
God’s Righteousness Through Faith
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 3:21-23 NKJV
So the law and the prophets (the old testament) support the righteousness of God, but God’s righteousness is only available to us through faith in Jesus. The righteousness of God is not attained by keeping the law, but the law bears witness to it, that it is necessary, that it is perfect when compared to the law and the prophets. God’s righteousness is enough when you look at it and compare it to the law and to the prophets. Everyone needs God’s righteousness, Jews, Christians, non-believers, we are all equally in desperate need of God’s righteousness. Only God’s righteousness is able to meet the high and perfect requirements of His law as expressed to us through the law and the prophets.
So far so good?
being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:24-26 NKJV
So how are God’s justification and redemption made available to us? Freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Let’s follow this carefully. Propitiation literally means “the Mercy Seat” which was the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament tabernacle and on the day of atonement blood was sprinkled there. (Leviticus 16:14-15) Why take blood to the Mercy Seat in the Day of Atonement? Why even have a day of atonement?
For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.
Leviticus 16:30 NKJV
The Day of Atonement pointed forward to what Jesus would do after His death on the cross, He would ascend to heaven and take His blood to the throne of God that we may be clean from all our sins before God. That way we may have a right standing before God’s holy and perfect character as expressed in His holy and perfect law.
Because of the blood of Jesus, shed for us, God can be just and the justifier of those of us who have faith in Jesus.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.
Romans 3:27-28 NKJV
What about my obedience to God’s will? It is extremely important, but it is only the natural fruit of my love and dedication to God. My good works only reflect the freedom God has given me from slavery to sin.
Going back to the question that I asked at the beginning of this post.
How do I go about living my life as someone wholly dedicated to God, as someone who has decided to turn my back on my previous life? What do I do now?
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 NKJV
I go on living my life, but in everything, I submit to God. I submit not in order for God to save me but recognizing that He is my heavenly father and out of love for Him I eagerly seek to discover His will for every area of my life. I live life free and always looking for opportunities to do God’s will. As I walk with God He gradually reveals more and more of Himself to me and I daily grow stronger in my faith. Daily God grants me victories and causes me to reflect His character. God fills me with His Holy Spirit as I invite Him in.
The point I wish to highlight is that in this life I am not trying to earn my salvation, am not trying to convince God to save me. I am living sure of salvation and continually seeking God out of a desire to obey Him because I love Him. Love is my motivation, not fear of hellfire.
My obedience is a response to God’s love, not the cause of it.
If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:15 NKJV
God’s righteousness is made available to me daily through faith. I don’t earn it and I don’t deserve it. I just believe. God saves me. God changes me. God gets all the glory. Therefore I cannot boast, no Christian can, because our salvation is all about God, all we do is believe and accept and allow Him to live out His plans in our lives for His honor and glory.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:7 NKJV
I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Isaiah 44:22 NKJV
For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
Ezekiel 18:32 NKJV
The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV
Satan is ready to steal away the blessed assurances of God. He desires to take every glimmer of hope and every ray of light from the soul, but you must not permit him to do this. Do not give ear to the tempter, but say, “Jesus has died that I might live. He loves me, and wills not that I should perish.” (Steps to Christ page 53)
In Luke 15:11-32, we have the parable of the prodigal son. In this parable Jesus pains a beautiful picture of a loving father who runs to embrace his wayward son the moment his son decides to return home. Amazing as this parable is it still falls short of portraying what God really is like. We get a clearer picture of who God is when we read John 3:16 and when we look at the cross.
If you doubt your salvation and tremble to think about judgment just look to Jesus. Jesus lives to make intercession for us. Thank God for the gift of His dear Son and pray that He may not have died for you in vain. The Spirit invites you today.
Come with your whole heart to Jesus, and you may claim His blessing.
As you read the promises, remember they are the expression of unutterable love and compassion. The great heart of Infinite Love is drawn toward the sinner with boundless mercy and tenderness. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7. Yes, only believe that God is your helper. He wants to restore His moral image in man. As you draw near to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw near to you with mercy and forgiveness.
So, what is keeping you from coming to Jesus right now and giving yourself to Him?