Having New Year’s resolutions, personal ambitions, financial targets, or family goals can be beneficial. They help us focus our time, energy and resources, moving forward to fulfill our dreams. They can also motivate us and give us hope in those areas where we’d like to see change.
Sometimes, however, our personal ambitions are derailed when we are faced with an unexpected family or financial crisis. Our family dreams may become nightmares if a relationship conflict erupts, a financial detour arrives, or someone decides he is no longer committed to long-shared desires.
This is “par for the course” in this life. We set goals—we fail; we set standards of excellence—we settle for less; we yearn for a worthy outcome—we resign ourselves to a kind of weariness. We create a standard—we alter it. Someone once suggested that we are far too satisfied with playing in a mud puddle rather than imagining spending a day at the beach.
Unlike us, God does not alter his standard or goals. All that he purposes will come to pass (Isaiah 14:24). He sets the standard—he keeps the standard—he is the standard. He jealousy guards his reputation. He is absolutely committed to his righteous character. It is clear, according to the Bible, what God expects of himself, he expects of us—perfection! In thought, word, and deed, we must be completely and perpetually perfect. Are you?
Your conscience screams down the corridors of your heart that you are far from perfect.
Your conscience screams down the corridors of your heart that you are far from perfect. Every lie, lustful thought, bitter jealousy, or covetous desire demonstrates your utter imperfection. This is sin. Yet that doesn’t even measure the depth of your sinfulness. You haven’t loved God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. He requires your total allegiance. He fully expects your gratitude for every dollar earned, meal eaten, and breath taken. God exacts perfection both in how you treat others and how you love and worship him.
Unfortunately for us, the consequences for sinning against God are far greater than altering one’s family goals or dismissing our New Year’s resolutions. The Bible says, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur…” (Revelation 21:8).
But there is good news.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Son of God clothed himself in human flesh (John 1:14). He obeyed his heavenly Father perfectly in thought, word, and deed (John 12:49,50; 14:31).
He then voluntarily went to a cruel cross to receive the punishment that sinners deserve. The wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus in his crucifixion (Isaiah 53:10, ; Romans 3:25). Now, sinners can receive what they do not deserve on account of Christ—mercy, forgiveness of sins, perfect righteousness, everlasting life, and real joy (Ephesians 1:3-11).
The Bible says, “Christ died [for sinners] in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…
After his crucifixion, he was taken down from that cruel cross and buried. Three days later he rose from the grave! The Bible says, “Christ died [for sinners] in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time” (1 Corinthians 15:6). After his appearance to over 500 people, he ascended into heaven (Mark 16:19).
To receive this loving mercy, forgiveness of sins, perfect righteousness, everlasting life, and real joy, you must repent (that is, hate and turn from your sins and turn to Jesus Christ) and believe in him, by faith, that he came into the world to live the life that you cannot, die the death that you deserve, and rise from the grave three days later on your behalf (1 Peter 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). When you do this, your sins will be forgiven and Jesus’ perfect righteousness will be credited to you, so that when God looks upon you, he doesn’t see you in your imperfection. Instead, he sees you clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Just a brief word on the way faith that saves is different than the workaday faith that most folks would claim to have: To believe, trust, have confidence in God’s promise of everlasting life involves a simple childlike understanding that God tells the truth when he makes promises; he has acted in reality (space, time, and eternity) in sending his unique Son; that not only is the good news true independent of our feelings, but I surrender myself to this true God as an active commitment of my mind, will, and emotions. In other words, “I’m all in!” “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Workaday faith is preoccupied with the things of this present life. The saving faith of the Bible is for both this life and the next. Would you like to receive the free gift of eternal life?