There are certain clear reasons why we can't save ourselves and why we need a Saviour. I am not sure we are committed to this fact as I look around at Christians who are busy trying to save themselves. It results from people not reading and studying the Word for themselves, making assumptions and listen to false prophets who spin their own version of the holy Scriptures. We can attend church for decades and never come to understand the fundamental truth that we need Jesus. I don't mean that we need him on those days when we are feeling lonely, lost and in trouble. I mean that we need him or we die. Again I turn to James to help us put this into context for us:
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (James 2:9-11)
The reason we had to die under the law is because we were not capable of living the law. We may be able to do one thing right and perfect but we are sure to mess up on something else. Messing up once is all that it takes to be condemned to death. Remember we are flawed so we cannot live the perfect law. Jesus had to live the perfect life under the law so that he could be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Our life cannot be lived without Jesus because our salvation is a matter of grace no good works.
This is an important matter to understand because of what James will challenge us with later in his epistle. Some people twist what James instructs as to do as if it is all a matter of living a good life. I am afraid that we have many people in our churches who have conformed their behaviour so they are leading a good life instead of being transformed by the blood of Jesus. It is like putting the cart before the horse. Good works prompted by love is a sign of a transformed heart, but you can still have good works without transformation. Anyone can lead a good life but it doesn't mean they have never lied, never cheated, never had murderous thoughts. Remember we are not perfect and the law requires perfection. You cannot enter into eternity on good works, it requires the blood of Jesus. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."
Now what makes the Church such a beautiful family to belong to is that this grace is suppose to be acted upon in all our relationships. Those who have experienced this grace, who are living by faith and are not leaning on good works, knows that we are compelled to show this same grace to everyone in our lives:
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:12-13)
It is vital that we do the good works that our Father has prepared to do but these actions are hollow if the are not done according to the grace shown to us. We have been shown mercy because of God's grace, so we have no right then to judge others. This means that the kindness and love we give does not depend on someone's actions and attitude toward us. He show them the same love God showed us when we did not deserve it. This is the real challenge above anything else, to live the life of grace that God gave to us, to love without discrimination, to do good to everyone without bias because that is what Jesus did for us. But this cannot come from an attitude of conforming to what is right but instead from a heart that has been transformed by the love of Jesus.
I stand convicted by the very words I type. What an awesome place the Church would be if we would only live according to what Jesus commanded instead of according to our own selfish nature and what others teach from their selfish nature. Lord forgive us. Show us again. Make it clear. Convict our hearts. Use us for salvation and your glory.