“The truth is that even in the slightest act of disobedience and rebellion, in the most unsuspecting compromise, there are life-stealing consequences.” (How Jesus Saves, pg. 14)
One of the alluring things about some of these video games kids play today is “respawn.” During your adventure, when you make a bad decision or take a misstep and your character “dies,” you respawn and basically start over at your last saved point with all your original equipment and health settings. It’s like nothing bad ever happened. In golf this is called a “Mulligan,” for computers it’s “restore,” on other occasions we call it a “do-over.” This is great in areas of life where we want to start over. We like to have success and we detest failure and having the opportunity to pretend like “that didn’t happen” appeals to us. But we aren’t given life in an Xbox. We can’t be good enough to make ourselves acceptable to God, and we certainly can’t undo the bad or selfish things we’ve done; that’s fantasy, not real life.
You don’t get a do-over. The philosophy that you can come back as something or someone else if you live life poorly is an appealing sentiment, but it just doesn’t work that way. The idea that we can truly make amends is a false hope. Ask anyone ever cut to the heart by stinging words, who has been emotionally betrayed, who has been robbed, or who has had to take someone to court. Or, you can look at the cross of Jesus Christ.
If we could make up for our selfish choices – our sin, if we could do enough good to negate the bad, then the cross of Jesus would not stand. God does not forgive us because we can prove to him that we are worthy of his mercy and grace. He does not forgive us simply because he is loving and kind. He forgives us because satisfaction has been made through the sacrifice of Jesus; because justice has been served to humanity by Jesus’ death; because Jesus, fully man and fully God, stands as man’s payment for sin and God’s extension of forgiveness; because Jesus has purchased us with his lifeblood from sin and it’s consequences; because Jesus took your place of punishment when he died on the cross. You are forgiven only when you trust in this great sacrifice of Jesus Christ because the truth is, you can’t be good enough.
We want control of our lives. We want to have a hand in our salvation and redemption. We want to earn God’s favor, but you can’t. Every good and generous act offered in an effort to earn God’s favor is a monument to your refusal to trust God and your effort to exalt yourself. No number of good deeds can undo a single bad one. You cannot go back in time and un-sin. There is no point system and there is no “respawn.” God’s grace is just that: unmerited favor. Life begins only when we humble ourselves and are willing to accept that. Even in the church there are so many who still see church attendance, Bible study, prayer time and other religious habits of ways to manipulate and control their righteousness. Righteousness is given; you are made righteous, you don’t become righteous by your own efforts.
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). In other words, we are all guilty, though we may be very good compared to other people, God is our standard and we fall woefully short. Therefore, none of us can be acceptable to God by our own effort and merit. We all need a savior because we cannot be good enough. Good works must be the result of salvation, not an effort to earn it. Cease striving to be good enough, and surrender your heart to Jesus. Receive abundant life and forsake a life trapped in an Xbox. It makes all the difference.