Why is it that it seems that believers lives and their behavior is often more of a disgrace than those who do not believe? Believers sin, believers are often weak in faith and in conviction, have a plethora of personal and family issues, they fall prey to the whiles of phony leaders, they sin and commit shameful acts — sometimes even in the name of God. Even the scriptures proclaim that the Gentiles blaspheme because of you [the believer].
I am convinced that the reason believers are what they are, the reason they fail, the reason they continue to struggle with sin, is because God really does not care about what anyone thinks of His choice of who is a believer. People may think that it is the believer who choses to believe, but that is nonsense. It is God who chooses the believer, not the other way around.
None of you who believe should pat yourselves on the back for making the choice to believe. If you had anything much to do with believing, you could boast before God and before angels. But no man will boast before God. If you are a believer it is because God chose you and not because you chose to believe (even though to you it may seem like you had a choice). Considered in those terms, then whatever righteousness the believer obtains is not about the man or woman who runs, but about God who chooses.
Men (and women) think that righteousness is the result of acts of kindness and charity, about sacrifice and self-denial, about doing good when the world presses the believer to do evil. None of that is righteousness, even though the righteous may do all of those things. The whole law and the prophets was intended to demonstrate that no man is righteous and that all are deserving of death. But through the law and the prophets the grace of God was demonstrated in Christ who came to fulfill the law and put an end to sin and through Him to death also.
Adam sinned and through that one man death entered the world. Some may argue that is simply not fair. Each man should be judged worthy on their own merit. But even by that measure every person has sinned and fallen short, being proven worthy of death. You may protest saying that “I have never done anything worthy of death.” On what basis can anyone say that? We all live and support a society that makes war and murders in the name of the national interest. The most innocent child is capable from birth of the worst kind of depravity. Put in the right circumstances any person could be a thief, a prostitute or a murderer. It does not matter then what acts you have committed or did not commit. Each of us is worthy of the judgement leading to death.
But Christ through one sacrifice delivered all men and women from sin and its wages — death. But that deliverance is not the reward of a life measured in good deeds that outweigh the bad ones. It is the result of faith. Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Then that is your salvation, that is your deliverance. Try all you want to find salvation through good deeds, you will never succeed, and your judgement will be even greater having turned down that marvelous provision that God has given through His only son Jesus Christ.
Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. In many respects, Abraham was rather weak. To me, in some ways, he seemed to be spineless and not really the role model the scriptures make him out to be. While in Egypt, Pharaoh came and took Abraham’s wife Sarah from him because she was beautiful. Abraham told her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister (not his wife) because he was afraid that they might kill him over her. Asking Sarah to say she was Abraham’s sister was a half-truth, but it was also rather cowardly. In spite of that, God looked out for Abraham, made him rich, gave him a son by a miracle, and through his line all of the descendants of Israel arose, including Christ Himself. God counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness, and through that faith he became everything God planned for him to be. He became quite a warrior and rescued his brother in law Lot.
If you want to be counted righteous, then believe in God — believe in His Son Jesus Christ. You may still fail, you may still sin, but all of that is meaningless compared to your faith. You are God’s handiwork, and He is able to finish what He started in you. We may complain about the way God is going about fashioning us, but as Paul wrote the pot has no right to complain to the potter, “Why did you make me this way?” God is fashioning some to be vessels of honor and some as vessels of dishonor, and in the end, you will become what He chose you to be.
While we are being fashioned, we may not see it, but this nature of sin we battle is being defeated. Do you think it matters to God what people think of you the believer who is still weak? Do you think it matters even the slightest to God that other people point fingers at you and other believers and accuse you of failing? It did not matter to God what people thought of Abraham either. Pharaoh who took Sarah away found out soon enough that he was playing with fire. Had Pharaoh not returned Sarah to Abraham, God would have destroyed them.
Do you think that God cared that the Egyptians thought nothing of Moses? Through Moses He humbled all of Egypt and wiped it out as a world power. Consider Samson — the guy was a moral disgrace, and yet he was one of Israel’s greatest leaders. Even Jesus hung out with drunks and sinners. Over and over again in the scriptures, there is example after example of men and women who by every standard were nothing but complete losers standing up through faith to become some of the greatest spiritual leaders. God has always chosen the weak, and the base, and men and women with the worst kind of moral and social handicaps, people who are nothing, and through them He demonstrates His power. One would think that God could pick people with a better resume, but He simply does not care about impressing anyone.
There are many powerful men, many powerful religious leaders who will be put to shame by men and women who are nothing, who have no money, no power base, no political connections, and no social standing. They are becoming those vessels of honor on whom His glory will be poured out. The believer’s standing before God is not the track record of success — it is faith. You believers who are grappling with the ashes of your life, you who have failed, who have made a mess of everything — don’t think for a moment that God cannot use you until you clean up your act. The mess you have made and the problems you have may be your greatest spiritual asset. Let God finish His handiwork and stop judging yourself. Look up, for your salvation is nearer to you than when you first believed.