Take the Test

Here’s a simple test.

This first heart, filled with plus signs, symbolizes the perfection needed to live with God for all
eternity.

This second heart, filled with minus signs, symbolizes our hearts of sin. The longer we live,
more minus signs are added because we commit more sin.

The test is to describe how the heart filled with minus signs becomes the heart filled with
plus signs so we can live with God eternally.

Many people point to Jesus and talk about how his death atoned for sin. This, in effect,
erases the minus signs, leaving an empty heart. But that doesn’t explain where the plus signs
come from. At this point, many equate the plus signs to people’s good works.
That, however, leaves a lot of room for doubt. Did I do enough? Am I worthy enough to live
with Heavenly Father for all eternity? Maybe I am now, but will I be in the future?
Heavenly Father doesn’t want you to be filled with uncertainty. So, he didn’t leave the filling
the heart with plus signs up to you! Instead, he assigned that task to Jesus. Jesus not only
erased the minus signs of sin with his sacrificial death, he also supplied the plus signs with his
perfect life – the perfect life he lived for us. Jesus wasn’t our substitute only when he was on the
cross. He was our stand-in his entire life.

Galatians 4:4-5 indicates that Jesus came not only to die for us, but also to live for us. “But
when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under
the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons”
(my emphasis).

It is instructive to compare this verse with another one in Galatians. In Galatians chapter 3
Paul states that Jesus, through his death, redeemed us from the curse of the law (see 3:13). If
redemption from the curse of the law was all that was needed, Paul could have stopped there.
But in the verse quoted above he returns to the thought of redemption and talks about a
different aspect. There he shows that Jesus, by placing himself under the law, redeemed us
from the obligations of the law. Since Galatians was written to a congregation composed
mainly of non-Jews, this is not restricted to the Mosaic law, but all of God’s laws or
commandments.

Jesus redeemed us from the law’s obligations by keeping the law perfectly for us. In his
Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the
prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

The exciting thing is we are now credited with Jesus’ holiness. Jeremiah brings this out when
he described Jesus as the Lord, our Righteousness. “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel
shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness”
(Jeremiah 23:6).

Many people fail this simple test by looking at their imperfect good works and not Jesus’
perfect works for us. That’s tragic. If we, in any way, point to our own works as a reason why
we qualify to live in God’s presence, we destroy the perfect case Jesus has made for us. Adding
our imperfect works to Christ’s masterpiece of perfection is like painting a tiny flower in the
corner of a Rembrandt. It ruins the entire masterpiece.

When, however, we remember that Jesus kept the law perfectly for us, we see the Gospel
in a wonderful new light. When we see Jesus being merciful, or loving his enemies, or spending
the entire night in prayer, or witnessing fearlessly, or what have you– we realize we get the
credit for what he did. Because he was living for you, you can put your name in his place! You
can say you have loved your enemies because Jesus loved his enemies. You can say you are a
fearless witness because Jesus was a fearless witness. Yes, you can even say you are perfect
because Jesus was perfect for you. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made
sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
Jesus lived and died for you! Because it all depends on what he has already done, you can be
sure you have the perfection needed to be with God! Friends, look to Jesus and not yourself.
Then you will overflow with joy and confidence.

ADDITIONAL ARTICLES

Next Step

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