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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Good Enough

Good Enough

 

I was at a business meeting this week and one of the supervisors quoted something that really has me thinking. It was supposed to be dealing with the performance of an employee but I try really hard during the work-week to hear God speak on Spiritual matters. He said two sentences. The first one was, “What was good enough in the past is not good enough for today”. Think about that for just a moment with me.

We know that as sinners in a broken relationship with God, we need a Savior to repair that gap.   According to Isaiah 64:6, our righteousness, the very best that we have to offer, is as filthy rags to God. When you study the meaning of filthy rags it is talking about dirty menstrual clothes. He is showing us that there is nothing we can do, try as we may, to obtain righteousness with God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

There is a problem here! How is it possible for anyone to be saved? If the morally best person you can think of would not go to heaven on their own how will we? In Romans 3:23 Paul says that all have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. Here we see a picture of something that misses the mark. Just imagine that you’re at an archery contest. The first contestant comes up and shoots five arrows. The audience is shocked as none of his arrows reach the target. Perhaps this fellow is shooting with a defective bow. But then, one by one all of them shoot and the arrows fall short of the target.

Mind you –  none of the arrows even reach the target. This is the picture of this verse in Romans. Paul says that we all come short. So, there you have it. The very best that a person can do in this life is not good enough to enter heaven. You might ask why God doesn’t just grade on a curve. Many people feel that He will judge that way and that only the best people get in. It sure would have been nice if Jesus didn’t have to go to the cross, wouldn’t it? But He did go and He suffered in our place. We should have died the death He did. But even then we would not have made it into heaven.

You see, God required a perfect sacrifice. Only a perfect Lamb could take away the sins of the world. So where do you stand?

Getting back to my statement, the things that were good enough in the past are no longer good enough for today. In reading these two passages, you have been made aware that your good works, apart from God, will never save you. You now know that the standards that you lived by in the past are no longer valid. You’ve been shooting but you just found out that none of your arrows are even making it to the target.

So how does a person reach God? How do we get to heaven? There was a man named Nicodemus who wanted to answer that question. He went to Jesus in the night to find out how to get to heaven. Nicodemus was a religious man. He served as a Pharisee and was a devout Jew. Jesus explained to him that he had to be “born-again”. Nicodemus was confused and thought that Jesus meant to start life over from his mother’s womb. But Jesus continued to tell him that he needed new life in his spirit man.

Nicodemus had reached a place where the morals that were good enough in his past were not good enough anymore. Jesus taught that we needed to look beyond the things that we presently do and think differently about right and wrong. Look with me at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5.

Jesus gives several things here (starting in verse 21) where He says “you have heard this” and then adds “but I say this”. The issue is killing in verse 21, adultery in verse 27, divorce in verse 31, swearing oaths in verse 33, vengeance in verse 38 and hating your enemy in verse 43. In each of these issues Jesus explains that we must start to think differently. The rules we have lived by in our “good” moral life are no longer valid. He shows us a better way.

When we set standards of what we will do good in, we fail when we put limitations on it. For instance, we might think we have never committed adultery in our lives but if we have ever lusted after a woman in our minds, Jesus said that we have already committed the act. When we think that we haven’t murdered someone and hate them in our heart, we are already guilty of that murder. So you see the things that were good enough in the past are not good enough for today.

Perhaps you have been born again and are walking in the life of a Christian. Maybe you understand that old things have passed away and all things have become new. That is wonderful! But the next quote is for you. The next line that the supervisor I spoke of said was, “what is good enough for today will not be good enough for the future”.

Maybe you think you have the Christian walk down and believe that nothing much will change between now and when you go to meet the Lord. You are wrong, if you are truly alive in Christ! The standards that we are living by right now are fine for today. But don’t expect to get by with them in the future. Let me share something with you. When I was a young man and my children were young I would mow grass in my yard on Saturdays. Often my girls would bring daddy a glass of water. One time one of the little ones brought me a glass with her fingers inside of it and blades of grass in the water from where she had been playing. I drank the water and gave her a big hug.

Now, today they are all basically adults. They live by a higher standard than what used to be required of them. If that same girl brought me a glass of water with her hand inside of it and grass floating around I would send it back. What is the difference? She is! As an adult more is expected of her. In Luke 12:48, Jesus is teaching and gives a statement that explains this. He said that to whom much is given, much is required.  We have a responsibility to do something with the knowledge of righteousness.

Once we have the understanding of the walk, we must further it as we go. There can be no laziness in the Kingdom of God. Jesus is giving a parable of two servants. One sees that the master is away and delays in coming back. He becomes loose in his living and lax in his standards. He sees nothing wrong with relaxing instead of doing his job.

The other servant is found doing his work when the master suddenly appears. He is promoted because of his diligence (v44). Jesus gave us a statement that proves He is just in His judgment. In verses forty-seven and

forty-eight he shows that once we know something we are responsible for our actions.

People often get lazy in their walk and decide that since they are born-again they shouldn’t have to worry about improving anything. They often quote verses like Ephesians 2:8-9. They point out that we aren’t saved by works. They see no reason to change since they are God’s children and nothing can change that. “After all”, they tell me, “He loves me just the way I am.” Well, that is true. He loved us when we were un-lovable. But there are many more verses that we need to consider.

Let’s look at James chapter 2. James has just said that faith without works is dead in verse 17. In verse 24 he says that a man is justified by works and not faith alone. So how do these two verses go together? Beautifully! We are not saved by our works. But our works prove that our faith is real. I could not truly love my wife if I didn’t have any outward proof that I did. Making a vow at an altar does not make me married if I never come home, does it? We must have works for our faith to be valid.

What did Paul say about works? Much. Check out Philippians chapter 3. In verse 12 Paul says that he lived as though he had not attained perfection or maturity. In verse 13 he states that he did not consider himself to have already obtained it, but that in forgetting the past and reaching for the future he pressed on toward the goal. We are in a life in which our days are not known. No one can predict how long they will live. We all want to believe that we will die at a ripe old age. But we all know that many do not.

In 1st Corinthians 13:11 Paul talks about the way things used to be and the way things are now. He said that he “put away” childish things. We have the free moral choice to do or not do something, even as Christians. We must make the decision to press toward the mark as Paul did. We should continue to seek ways to please God. Only then do we show that we are truly alive and growing in Him.

Here is one last thing for you to think about. If you saw a tree that had no leaves in the winter and then spring, summer and fall came without ever bearing leaves what would you call it? Dead, right? That is easy to tell. But what about a tree that has leaves on it year round but it never changes? In ten years you notice that a tree has no growth and not one leaf has changed. That one is harder isn’t it? I have one in the office I work in. It’s called a fake…think about it…..

 

Prayer-

Father God-we ask today that you show us ways in which we may mature in You. May the Holy Spirit open our eyes to help us grow and mature in Christ. As we study Your Word help us to be open to the changes that are needed in our hearts. Let us press on toward the mark of Christ-Jesus today,

In Jesus’ Name I pray-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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3 Responses to "Good Enough"

  1. Laura says:

    Thought provoking and helpful. Thank you.

  2. Dennis says:

    Yes, we need to press on toward the mark, towards perfection, changing from glory to glory, from one degree of glory to a higher degree of glory. May God bless our journey.

  3. Virginia says:

    Lots to think about with some helpful advice. Thank you

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