God established His covenant with the Jews, providing them with laws and Levites. They offered daily sacrifices to provide forgiveness and a limited access to God. Once a year the High Priest entered God’s presence, even if only metaphorically, in the Most Holy Place of the temple. The Jews did their best (sometimes) to keep the law God had established.
But it never worked. They vacillated between being failing strugglers to keep the law, hypocrites who only tried to keep the outward requirements of the law, and outright rebels against the law. Try as it might, the law couldn’t keep them in check. The Levites could not contain the people. In fact, the Levites themselves were sometimes leaders in the rebellion (cf. Nehemiah 13).
That was why something new was needed. “If perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood…what further need would there have been for another priest to arise…” (Hebrews 7:11). Therefore, God set aside the former commandment because “the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19). It was weak and useless, not because of God’s inability to make a good law, but because of man’s enslavement to sin. Over and again, we demonstrated that we would not keep a law.
Jesus was the only man who ever kept the law. However, God did not use Jesus as the great example that we could be perfect. He did not use Jesus as the example that we should be perfect. He did not use Jesus as the example that if we weren’t perfect, we only had one recourse: death. Instead, of demanding we step up to the plate and make ourselves perfect, He put Jesus to death that He might make us perfect by Jesus’ blood.
The blood of bulls and goats could never perfect the conscience of the worshiper (Hebrews 9:9). However, the blood of Jesus Christ can “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14). Therefore, God has made Jesus the mediator of His New Covenant so that we may receive our promised eternal inheritance.
The great comfort we can take is that while neither the law nor the Levites could save us, Jesus Christ “is able to save to the uttermost, those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Here is the great thing. We don’t have to try to save ourselves (in this sense). We cannot. The law was given by which we could try to be our own savior. We could strive to follow its precepts and keep its rules. Maybe if we tried hard enough, we could be perfect and save ourselves. But we didn’t. We no longer have to rely on ourselves and our own strength. Jesus is our Savior. He is able to save us to the uttermost. We must simply strive to approach God through Him. Jesus will save us.
This week, let us simply lean on Jesus and let Him run our lives. He’ll lead us to our eternal inheritance if we’ll let Him.
“What if I get in a car wreck and just before my head slams into the steering wheel I take God’s name in vain, will I go to heaven?”
Are you ready for my newest answer to this question?
“Who are you relying on for your salvation? Yourself or Jesus?”
Romans 10:3 says the Jews were ignorant of the righteousness of God, therefore they were trying to establish their own righteousness. They weren’t relying on Jesus to save them. They were relying on themselves. They were going to keep the law so well that God would have to save them.
The problem was no one could keep the law that well. Every single one of them sinned (Romans 3:23). In fact, we learn that God didn’t establish law to save anyone. He established law to convict us that we need saving. Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Galatians 3:21 says, “If a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.” God hasn’t given a law that could give life. Did you catch that? The Old Law doesn’t give life. The New Law doesn’t give life. If a law could give life, then God would let us earn life through a law. However, God gives us life as His free gift (Romans 6:23). Romans 3:24 says we are justified as a gift from God through the redemption that is in Jesus.
What all this means is, instead of relying on ourselves and our law keeping to save us, we need to rely on Jesus Christ. If we plan to stand before God and demand we should be saved because of all the great works we’ve done, we’re going to be in trouble. If we plan to stand before God with any other defense than Jesus Christ and His death, we are going to be lost. When we try to be saved by establishing our own righteousness, we’ll fail every time.
Does this mean I can take God’s name in vain with impunity and not worry about my salvation? Do those who aren’t trying to establish their own righteousness sin so the righteousness of God’s grace can abound? Of course not. Romans 6:1-4 demonstrates that is wrong. However, what we really need to recognize is that this mindset demonstrates we don’t understand what it means to rely on Jesus for our salvation.
We think “rely on Jesus for salvation” means I live however I want and Jesus will save me anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth. The wages of sin is death even for the Christian (Romans 6:23). Relying on Jesus doesn’t mean living my way and expecting salvation anyway. Relying on Jesus for salvation means turning my life over to Him, living by faith in Him (Galatians 2:20), and letting Him lead me to salvation. It means trusting God’s promise that I am His, therefore He is conforming me to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29-30). It means trusting Jesus to deliver me from my body of death (Romans 7:24-25) so that I overcome these sins that will kill me. It means that my continued struggles as I grow in Christ do not destroy my salvation but my progress in Christ provides me an entrance into the eternal kingdom (cf. II Peter 1:5-11).
Back to the question that started all this off. If you are relying on Jesus to save you and trusting God’s promise to conform you, why are you worried that God is going to let you so sin in the last minute of your life to destroy your relationship with Him?
Quit relying on yourself. Quit trying to establish your own righteousness. Believe Jesus. Turn your life over to Him. Let Him guide you to salvation.