Looking Good

Daily Reform, Day 109

Galatians 2:15 & Psalm 24:3-6

From the Reformer

“When we Jews compare ourselves with the Gentiles, we look pretty good. We have the Law, we have good works. Our rectitude dates from our birth, because the Jewish religion is natural to us. But all this does not make us righteous before God.”

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Just so, those who grew up in the church might think they “look pretty good.” They may think that simply because they call themselves Christians, this passes as integrity before God. To the other extreme, they may suppose that because they do certain things like go to church or not drink or swear, that this counts as righteousness. Yet none of these things makes us righteous before God.

Who may stand before God as righteous? Who may ascend his holy hill and stand in the holy place? Only the one who has clean hands and a pure heart may expect such a standing. David wrote the song that declares this truth. Yet David’s hands were far from clean and his heart was at times none too pure. Being king did not guarantee him a righteous standing with God. Instead, David had to receive the blessing of righteousness from God (Ps 24:5). So do you. You cannot be born into such righteousness, nor can you earn it. You receive it from God.

Those who seek God soon discover that they have unclean hands and impure hearts and must turn to him for forgiveness. They then also find that he forgives those who look pretty bad and whose works have been less than excellent. He gives his own righteousness to those who seek it by faith. (Phil 3:9) Do not depend on how good you look or how good you can be, but instead trust how good God makes you look — even when you think you look pretty bad.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

Leave a Reply