In reading Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian, I started to realize that the core motivation behind my penchant to gauge my walk with Christ based on my perception of the righteousness of others is based in nothing more than the graceless, moralistic legalism that my heart desires. I want to know that my hard work for Jesus is valued and that my ability to keep myself from sinning is something that’s of value to God and that he will be pleased with me when he sees me standing upright on my best day, free from the sins that kept me bound and separated from Him for so long. That view, however, completely misses the point of the gospel.
The gospel says that I am wholly broken, unable to help myself. It is not my own ability that keeps me from sinning, but it is God’s work on my behalf that has redeemed me. My self-righteous attempt to justify myself by judging others and their walk with God based on my own standard of holiness is not bringing God glory, but it is sullying the name of Christ by implying that my ability to save myself is the real source of my salvation and that Jesus’ death on the cross is nothing more than a bus pass to the outskirts of glory but that my own works are the real binding factor that keeps me in God’s good graces. That view is sickening to God and it should be sickening to me. Who am I to stand before the king of all creation and tell him that my worth and my actions are of value to him? Who am I to judge another man’s servant? My value before God is imputed to me by God through His sovereign choice to save me from damnation. I am no better than anyone else and I deserve an eternity in Hell far more than others who trip through life only to pass through death’s door without acknowledging the God who created them.
My righteousness is worthless if it weren’t based on Jesus’ active obedience. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, I am seen as perfect before God. The passive obedience of Jesus death on the cross merely paid for my sins – cleared my record of wrongs, but Jesus’ active obedience brought me into the throne room of God and placed on me the glory that He deserved. Hallelujah, what a Savior.