God Does Not Owe You

Of course very few would ever say it out loud, but that does not stop people from feeling that God really had to save them because they have some value or merit.

This idea is reinforced by modern teachings that God needed us and that He somehow was incomplete without us. At the very root of these ideas is the thought that we have some “redeeming qualities” and that there is something within me that is basically good and desirable to God. Sometimes we look at others and feel that in comparison, we are not so bad and that we are basically quite good. After all, we have not sunk as low as some people.

Thus preachers create the impression that God is begging people to get saved since He so desperately wants and needs them. All this is based on the incredible pride and deceitfulness of the human heart. If we only we could understand our true situation then we would be begging God for mercy.

Our post-modern liberalism and conceit has blinded our eyes to how reprehensible and abhorrent our sins are to God. It is just not acceptable to mention sin anymore let alone expose the utter corruption and wickedness of the human heart. In addition we have become so removed from the scriptures that the Law is no longer able to reveal our total sinfulness. The Law is a schoolmaster and it teaches us that we cannot redeem ourselves and that we need Christ (Galatians 3:24). This is because the Old Testament is no longer taught or believed and thus we have stripped the Law of its function of conviction.

Also, because we live in a time when there is no longer absolute right and wrong, we grow up feeling that no one is really bad (except the criminals who get caught). Our entire society, culture and upbringing is geared away from making us feel inadequate and towards feeling pride and satisfaction at who we are. But that is all a humanistic way of looking at things – it is not the way God sees us.

With God things are not relative. We are not relatively good when we compare ourselves to others. God’s standard is absolute and everything that comes short of that is evil, sinful and worthy of death. God’s standard is perfection. Jesus said: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Paul said: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). When we fall short of God’s standard it is not a minor little problem that can be overlooked. A single, no matter how small, sin is sufficient to banish us from His presence forever. Just think of what happened to Adam and the angels who sinned.

Again, we don’t understand this because we don’t appreciate the extent of God’s absolute holiness, perfection and glory. The angels have never sinned and are glorious beings in their own right. Even John mistook one of them for the Lord (Revelation 19:10, 22:8). Yet, when these angels stand before God they feel unclean and inadequate and they cover themselves with their wings and shout “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Yet we feel that we, for all our sinfulness, are able to brazenly strut into His presence and demand that He has to save us.

We have lost our sense of awe at God’s greatness, holiness and absolute perfection. But we have also lost all sense of our own incredible sinfulness. Romans 5:6 says that we were “without strength” (to save ourselves). It does not say we were “weak” no, we were without strength meaning we had no ability and were totally at His mercy. Romans 5 also says we were “sinners”, “ungodly”, and “enemies” of God. Ephesians 2 says “we were by nature the children of wrath”, we were Gentiles and dogs and, “were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

Ezekiel describes our situation very graphically: “on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed in water to cleanse you; you were not rubbed with salt nor wrapped in swaddling cloths. No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born” (Ezekiel 16:4-5). Were it not for His grace, we would have died out there in the world.

I cannot find a single scripture that describes any “redeeming qualities” we may have had. “But we are all like an unclean thing,  And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, our best and most righteous acts are absolutely filthy before God. No one can plumb the depth of the depravity of the human heart: “The heart is deceitful above all things,  And desperately wicked;  Who can know it”  (Jeremiah 17:9).

If we truly understood how God sees us, we would be crying out to Him for mercy, or worse, would not even feel we dare raise our voice in a plea for clemency.

But God who is rich in mercy gave His Son to die for us even in our sinful state. This wonderful act of grace had nothing to do with anything that we had or could bring to God. He saved us simply because of His selfless love, mercy and grace. For no other reason. He did not need us – He is perfect, complete and content within Himself and would have continued to be so without us. Neither did God have to save us. He would have been perfectly just and righteous if He never died for us and condemned every single one of us. That is all we were, and continue to be, entitled to.

There is no human reason why He should save us, let alone die for us. But He did “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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” (Ephesians 2:7-9).

There can only be one fitting response to such amazing grace. We aught to love, serve, adore and be absolutely devoted to Him every moment of the rest of our lives.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.