Saturday, 29 March 2008

Our good deeds cannot cleanse us

The lesson of Haggai's third prophecy (in 2:10-19) contains a classic lesson for all time, presented in the forms of the Old Covenant.

When a priest had a (ceremonially) holy garment on, through carrying the sacrifices, would a thing that the garment touched become holy? No. (Verse 12)

When a priest was (ceremonially) unclean because of contact with a dead body, would a thing that he touched become unclean? Yes. (Verse 13).

The same principle worked with the people. They presumed that their labours in rebuilding the temple would make them acceptable to God, though they had not repented of their sins. (Zechariah 1:1-8 shows us Zechariah's preaching at the same time, which brought them to repentance). Instead, the opposite was the case. Their sins instead made their service regarding the temple unclean, and unacceptable.

Our good deeds do not make our persons acceptable to God. Instead, the because of our sinful hearts, everything we do is defiled.

The world is full of people who think that they're as good as anyone else, and that God should accept them because of it. The opposite is true. God sees the selfishness in our hearts, and because of it everything we do is defiled, and he cannot accept any of it.

That's why we need Jesus Christ. His life was perfectly pleasing in God's eyes, because everything he did sprung from a pure motive - to give his Father glory. Nothing about him was tainted in any way with sin. He is the one who is holy, and whose holiness can be gifted to us. He died on the cross for sinners, and all who believe are accepted, not because they make themselves acceptable, but because of him. That's also why Christians need to carry on their Christian lives where they begin them - at the cross. Our services as Christians do not bring us any nearer to God or make us any more pleasing to him; rather we must daily repent for the sin we bring into them, and receive new grace from Jesus Christ, and thank God that through him our feeble deeds are indeed accepted.

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