At 15 I landed my first real job working for one of my uncles. I made $10 a day laying roofing shingles, in the hot, Florida summer sun. It was hot and hard work, but to a 15-year-old, money was money.
As a young teen, I really don’t remember it being miserable doing all that hard work, nor it being particularly hot, nor feeling to upset about how much I made, even after I learned what he made off me. But what was particularly hard, was that no matter how hard I worked, no matter how much more productive I became, every single day I seemed to do something that would make my uncle upset.
He was particular about roofing and there were a lot of things you could easily do to damage shingles when they were heated up during the day. It was hard for both of us not to somehow damage a shingle here or there as the day got hotter, but I would seem to get blamed for his mistakes as much as my own. No matter how hard I tried, I could never seem to please him.
Christians often feel the same way towards God. In fact, many religions use this manipulatively to make people dependent on their clergy to absolve them or even intercede to God on their behalf. No system of rules or laws have ever been set up that eventually people won’t break. We are flawed. This is why God HAD to intervene in order to reinstate our relationship with Him.
This is entirely what Paul is trying to address with the Romans in the first three chapters and if they haven’t understood it fully yet in verse 10 and following, he gets right to the point:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:10–18. KJV
I’m not sure why it’s so hard for people to accept. It’s a matter of faith as is made clear in the Word of God, and yet, people still think their efforts will somehow assuage things with God. It should come as a relief that faith in God, in what He has promised by way of salvation through His Son, not based on anything we are otherwise capable of doing ourselves. Instead, they place their faith in doing enough to earn their own righteousness.
Ironically, it’s that word “righteousness” that holds the key to the conflict. Mankind yearns to “obey or follow” the law as a means to salvation, but it could only ever satisfy the laws of this world. Working towards solving that problem misses the issue that really separates man from his creator. It’s not in perfect adherence to the law, but rather faith in what He has done.
It’s hard to understand why people would have more faith in their own ability to adhere to laws, to perfection, over faith in something God has done entirely on their behalf. Our fate will never lie in whether or not we please Him. It will lie entirely in whether or not we put our faith in Him.
Dr. Ronald James Barnes
December 5, 2022