There are really only two possible paths to God. One path works. The other does not.
One is the path of attempting to leverage the commandments and striving to be worthy. Rely on yourself. Obey the rules. Work hard. Be a good person.
The other is the path of faith. Not leveraging, but leaning. Not striving, but receiving.
This path involves relying on Jesus. He has obeyed for you. He has done all the work. Because of his perfect life, sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection, you already are counted as a good person in the eyes of God. You are worthy, by faith.
The first path — the path of works — is a deceptive and dangerous dead end, because to reach God by this path you must have a perfect record. Falling short is not allowed. Missing the mark is not permitted. No mulligans. No second chances.
This cursed path ends not with God, but in death. Because by the dictates of the law that is the only thing we are worthy of.
The second path — the path of faith — trusts that the perfect record already exists. But it also recognizes that this perfection does not exist with us. This side of heaven, it never will. It only exists with Jesus.
For sinners like us, this is the only path. Because we need forgiveness every day. We need chance upon chance upon chance upon chance. And God’s grace in Jesus Christ provides us with just that. Jesus is the only path — the only way — that any of us will ever need.
So live! By faith in him.
“For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith'” (Galatians 3:10-11, NIV).
Lord Jesus, thank you for being my path to a restored relationship with God. Thank you for forgiveness, mercy and life — all as gifts of your grace. Send your Holy Spirit and grant me the gift of faith, so that I may receive and hold on to these wonderful gifts. I want to live by faith in you.
Our Bible reading for Thursday, September 17, is Isaiah 41:1 – 42:25, Galatians 3:10-25 and Proverbs 22:28 – 23:9.
Header image based on "The Narrow Path" by rabiem22, CC By 2.0