Job 25:4, “How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?”
Perhaps like many Christians, I often imagine what it’d be like to stand before God and finally see Jesus face to face. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I’d probably only be able to respond with, “Woe is me!” What other way is there to respond when in the presence of the holy God Almighty? In fact, Jesus came to me in a dream once—not a vision of new revelation since the Scriptures are the only revelation of God we need, but one of personal revelation. At the time, I was still heavily dealing with my self-loathing in my sin. I repented nearly every day and I was having difficulty believing God actually forgave me so much that I was unsure of my salvation. In the dream, I was standing in a place where everything around me was white, and in front of me was Jesus. Immediately, I looked down and fell to my knees, to which Jesus said, “Why is your spirit so downcast?” I said, “I am not worthy of You.” There was momentary silence as He said, “Follow Me.” He started walking away from me towards a cave in a mountain, so I followed Him into the dark cave. It was so dark that I couldn’t see Him anymore, then suddenly I felt myself ascending and as I went higher, a white light became bigger and bigger until I was suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit and when I reached the top, I woke up.
The answer to Job’s question is found in Jesus Christ. Further interpretation of this dream brought me to Matthew 17:20, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” In context, Jesus was answering the disciples’ question for why they were unable to cast out a demon. He said it was because of their little faith, but He then contrasts it by saying that even with a little faith, you can move mountains (metaphorically, of course). What do we make of this “contradiction”? The image on the right is a mustard seed in the palm of a man’s hand. Jesus said faith that is that small is powerful enough to “move mountains,” so the disciples’ faith must’ve been smaller than that—in essence, their faith was non-existent.
What does this mean for us today? Jesus is not saying if you believe hard enough, you can remove your sins and be saved. Salvation is not dependent upon the size of your faith; it relies completely on Jesus. I wasn’t focusing on my works to be sure of my salvation, but I did believe my sin was too great for God to forgive—in other words, my faith in God’s forgiveness was non-existent, hence my immense shame. However, Jesus showed me how wrong I was. It is not the amount of faith that matters. What matters is that faith itself is a gift from God. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). The moment God gives you faith in Jesus, He says, “You are My child.” Therefore, Paul says, in the Gospel “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:17). Ergo, because of our gifted faith, God declares us righteous before Him. We do not need to depend on ourselves or anything else to be righteous before Him.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). There ought to be an exclamation point at the end of that sentence! This “therefore” sentence was a conclusion of Paul’s preceding statement, “It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). Therefore, because Jesus was raised for our justification, God makes us righteous (justified) before Him through Christ! Galatians 3:27 says, “For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ.” The Greek word for “put on” is the same word used for “to clothe.” So in our baptism, we are literally clothed with the righteousness of Christ. And we shall sing at His glorious return, ” ‘Let us rejoice and exult and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His Bride [the Church, which is us] has made herself ready; it was granted to her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:7-8). We are not righteous by ourselves, but through Christ and because of the works He’s done, He makes us righteous before God.
Worry not, therefore, for in this imputed righteousness no one can snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-30). Of course, this is no excuse to continue living in sin. If you think Jesus died for you so that you may continue living in the sin He freed you from, then you misunderstand the Gospel. Rather, through faith Christ now gives us the power to overcome our sin. We cannot do this perfectly, but such living is a faithful response to God’s gift of salvation. Even when we fail, our salvation does not become null, for it lies in Christ’s hands, not ours. God is the author of our salvation, and He has written our names in the Book of Life.