“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” ~James 2:10 (NLT)
On a recent road trip with my son, Eric, I vocalized a complaint as I was driving down the highway, “I can’t believe how fast these people are driving! The speed limit is 55mph. I’m driving 65mph and they’re passing me like I’m going in reverse!”
Without hesitation, Eric responded, “Ya know, that doesn’t put you on the moral high ground.”
Eric may not share my religious beliefs, but he sure did hit the nail on the head with that one. We tend to place this arbitrary line between good and bad, and then compare ourselves to other people using that criteria.
I was raised in a Christian denomination that assigned varying degrees to sin. I was taught that if I died with certain unconfessed sin, it would preclude me from entering heaven. Other, lesser sins, would not necessarily close the gates of heaven, but would cause a delay in my getting there. I grew up fearful and confused whenever I slipped up and did something wrong.
Varying degrees of unacceptable behavior are the norm in our justice system and in our daily lives. Driving 30 mph over the speed limit will probably result in loss of your drivers’ license on the spot, whereas, a 10mph violation may result in a ticket, or even just a warning.
I understand the need for that, but I’m also grateful that God’s system of justice works differently.
There are two paths to heaven laid out in the Bible. One is to obey ALL of God’s laws PERFECTLY. (Keep in mind, there are over 600 laws in the Old Testament!) The other is to trust in what Jesus did on the cross for you and me, knowing that there is no possibility of perfectly keeping God’s law.
God sacrificed His only Son because He created us, He knows us and He is keenly aware that we are just not capable of living a sinless life. He longs for us to be with Him for eternity so He had to offer another way, a way not based on our merits.
The world views sin differently and I believe much of it is to make us feel better about our own actions. If I lie and you commit adultery, by human standards, what I did is no big deal but what you did is scandalous. (See how I did that? I only lied!) As the liar, I feel pretty darn good about myself, just as I did speeding down the highway. But, as Eric would say, that doesn’t put me on the moral high ground! In God’s eyes, we both sinned. Jesus died for liars just as He did for adulterers.
God’s Word is clear that if you break one of His laws, you’ve broken all of them. Since coming to understand this truth, I no longer live in fear and confusion over my actions. I KNOW that I’m not good enough to earn heaven on my own and I know that God knows it too! There is something so freeing about that truth! It doesn’t leave us free to sin, but rather, frees us to be Jesus-conscious instead of sin-conscious.
My challenge for both you and me this week is to purposely be Jesus-conscious. When you sin, (because you will!) don’t beat yourself up. Instead, thank Jesus for His finished work on the Cross. And, when someone around you falls short (which they will!), climb down from the moral high ground and see them eye to eye, through the lens of God’s grace, just as the Father sees you.