Paid It All
The world hungers to be right. We love to
be at the right place at the right time with the right facts so that our
actions will be right. Deep down everyone wants to be right, for being
right is equal to being a winner. Oh, how we love to win.
The world is driven by an innate need to be
right. How many arguments have you seen over who was right and who was
wrong? Lord, when we are wrong, make us willing to change. And when
we are right, make us easy to live with.
We live in an age that believes you must stand
up for your rights. In our society, people commonly say that everyone must
determine what is right for oneself. Most are more than willing to change
the rules to make themselves right. All this reveals that we are driven
by a sense of what we ought to do and what we ought not do.
We will do almost anything to be right. In
the summer of 1986, two ships collided in the Black Sea off the coast of
Russia. Hundreds of passengers died as they were hurled into the icy waters
below. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation
revealed the cause of the accident. It wasn't a technology problem like
radar malfunction--or even thick fog. The cause was human stubbornness.
Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence nearby. Both could
have steered clear, but according to news reports, neither captain wanted
to give way to the other. Each was too proud to yield first. By the time
they came to their senses, it was too late.
The word "righteous" sounds too religious
to some of our ears. But a desire to be right is a desire to be righteous.
Used with reference to morality, "righteous" means living or acting in
the right way. I think most of us have a desire to be right and make things
right, but we just don’t always know how.
With the complexity of today's social, educational,
and medical issues, more and more people are having trouble knowing what's
right. In grappling with being right, we may resort to all sorts of ideas
to make us right.
Often our pride leads us to believe that we
can make it right. Many seek to make up for their wrongdoing by offsetting
their bad deeds with good ones. When we do something bad, we seek to do
something really good to make us feel better. We may try to balance the
scales of justice between the good and bad in our lives.
What Motivates Our Righteousness
To be right is important to us because
we have a deep need to justify our actions. When we can’t justify
our actions, we often resort to denial of our wrong, or seek to cover up
our actions. We may do this in an effort to make ourselves look good or
appear righteous in the eyes of others.
King David was a man, according to God’s testimony
about him, after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). In a moment of weakness
he committed adultery with Uriah’s wife. Rather than admit his sin, he
sought to cover it up.
2 Samuel 11:5-15
The woman conceived and sent
word to David, saying, "I am pregnant."
So David sent this word to Joab:
"Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came
to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the
war was going. Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house and wash
your feet." So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent
after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master's
servants and did not go down to his house.
When David was told, "Uriah
did not go home," he asked him, "Haven't you just come from a distance?
Why didn't you go home?"
Uriah said to David, "The ark
and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's
men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and
drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a
Then David said to him, "Stay
here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back." So Uriah remained
in Jerusalem that day and the next. At David's invitation, he ate and drank
with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to
sleep on his mat among his master's servants; he did not go home.
In the morning David wrote a
letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, "Put Uriah in the
front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he
will be struck down and die." (NIV)
Why do we convince ourselves that it is easier
to deny and hide our wrong doing than to make things right with God and
man, which only increases our sin? Adultery wasn’t the worst part of David’s
sin. He sought to cover his evil deed with multiple evil deeds.
Jesus spoke a parable that reveals two distinct
ways we deal with our sin.
To some who were confident
of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told
this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and
the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:
'God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or
even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all
"But the tax collector stood
at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast
and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather
than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts
himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (NIV)
We seek to justify ourselves because sin places
us under condemnation when we do wrong. When Adam and Eve sinned in Eden
sinned exposed their nakedness. Satan’s desire led them to seek fulfillment
of their appetite. Their nakedness was exposed the moment they took a bite
of the forbidden fruit. God comes to them asking them, "Who told you that
you were naked." They knew they were naked before God came to them. Satan
stripped them of their dignity. Sin had left them condemned and naked.
Satan left their nakedness exposed with nothing but leaves to clothe them.
Sin convinced them that they could cover their
own nakedness. Often our pride seeks to cover our nakedness by denying
our wrongdoing. We may seek denial as we attempt to change the standards
of right and wrong. We may convince ourselves there is no absolute standard
of behavior. So we set out to determine what is right or wrong in each
situation we face. What is right for us is whatever seems good for us at
the moment. If it turns out to be wrong for a similar situation, we convince
ourselves that it was right for the previous situation.
Jesus Came to Make Us Right
Our desire to be right is designed by
God to point us to the one who can make us right. It is designed
to point us to God provisions to make us right. Every rule and regulation
laid down in God’s law is designed to lead to understand our need for Christ
to make us right.
Before this faith came, we
were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.
the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified
by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision
of the law.
You are all sons of God through
faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have
clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor
free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong
to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Rules and regulations were not designed to
condemn. They were designed to lead us to Christ. God enters our lives
to make us right with our world. "God made him who had no sin to be sin
for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians
5:21 NIV). Satan enters our world to strip us naked.
If we fail to understand the purpose of rules
and regulations they will only bring condemnation. They will leave our
lives naked and barren. Paul reveals what happens when rules and regulations
become the driving force in our lives.
We know that the law is spiritual;
but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what
I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I
do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it
is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that
nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the
desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is
not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep
on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do
it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (NIV)
The law is like a dentist's little mirror,
which he sticks into the patient's mouth. With the mirror he can detect
any cavities. But he doesn't drill with it or use it to pull teeth. It
can show him the decayed area or other abnormality, but it can't provide
The law is also like a flashlight. If suddenly
at night the lights go out, you use it to guide you down the darkened basement
stairs to the electrical box. When you point it toward the fuses, it helps
you see the one that is burned out. But after you've removed the bad fuse,
you don't try to insert the flashlight in its place. You put a new fuse
to restore the electricity.
The law is like a plumb line. When a builder
wants to check his work, he uses a weighted string to see if it's true
to the vertical. But if he finds that he has made a mistake, he doesn't
use the plumb line to correct it. He gets out his hammer and saw.
When rules and regulations are designed to
help us do right they only increase our awareness of our need to be right.
Moral law is such that it reveals our need to be made right.
Do you know why rules and regulations can’t
make us righteous? It has been said that rules are made to be broken. Has
there ever been a rule in your life that hasn’t broken in one form or the
Have you ever decided to go on a diet? Maybe
you have sat down and determined what foods you were going to eat. How
long was it before you broke all the rules you laid down for yourself?
Now you know how Adam and Eve felt when they ate of the tree of knowledge
planted in the middle of Eden. They had as much trouble staying away from
the tree of knowledge as many of us do staying away from our refrigerators.
The rules reveal our need to be right, but
they don’t have the ability to make us right. The rules are designed to
reveal our nakedness. The rules are designed to reveal how wrong we are.
We end up trying to make rules to help us keep the rules. We may make rules
to change the rules we don’t want to keep. It makes us conscious of our
inability to be right without God through rules and regulations. They are
designed to show us our deepest need--our need to be clothed with God‘s
Now we know that whatever the
law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may
be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one
will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through
the law we become conscious of sin. (NIV)
God wants to clothe us with his righteousness.
When we realize our inability to be right, it should lead us to the One
who can make us right. It should lead us to the one capable of covering
Christ came to fulfill every righteous demand
Then Jesus came from Galilee
to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying,
"I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
Jesus replied, "Let it be so
now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then
As soon as Jesus was baptized,
he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw
the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice
from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
The reason John baptized Christ was to fulfill
all the righteous demands of God’s law. Jesus was baptized to meet the
righteous demands of the law for each of us.
Jesus said, "it is proper for us to do
this to fulfill all righteousness." Christ came to make us right. He
came to make us acceptable to God.
God covered for Adam and Eve in Eden. God
sacrificed those animals in Eden to provide clothing for Adam and Eve.
God covered their nakedness. He didn’t approach Adam and Eve to get them
into deep trouble; he came because they were in deep trouble. He just wanted
to cover for them until he could make things right for them.
When God killed those animals in Eden to provide
covering for Adam and Eve it pointed to the ultimate sacrifice God would
make for all of us through Jesus Christ. Christ came to fulfill every demand
that righteousness makes upon each of us. He did this so that we might
become the righteousness of God in him.
Christ came to fulfill every righteous demand
rules and regulations impose upon us. Christ came to atone for our sins.
The word atonement means "to cover." Christ sacrifice covers our sins.
Jesus came on God’s behalf to cover for us.
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it what as snow.
In times of weakness we must
find in Jesus Christ our all in all.
He can melt the leper’s spots
and melt the heart of stone.
Have you ever had someone to cover for you?
Maybe you messed up big time at work and one of your co-workers or even
your boss covered for you. They may have even saved your job. How did that
make you feel--hopefully you were appreciative. In much the same way God
wishes to cover for us because he loves us.
When I was in high school I worked during
the summers at different jobs. One summer I worked on a bridge crew building
bridges. I was driving a truck that hauled a huge crane we used to dig
ditches and set piling for the bridge spans. I pulled off on a soft shoulder
of the road and turned it over. It took a huge wrecker to haul it out of
the ditch. I just knew I would get fired. But the boss covered for me.
I really appreciated it. I think that I worked that much harder for him
because he covered for me.
God covers for us when we are baptized into
Christ. Paul writes, "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ
Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves
with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor
female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then
you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (NIV)
or I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more." (NIV)
Since the very beginning God has desired to
clothe the world in his righteousness. God wants us to understand that
he is not present in our lives to strip us naked through condemnation---sin
has already done this. Sin has unclothed us.
What you can offer God to be accepted into
heaven? Give Him your sins and trust Jesus to save you. Our "rags" become
our claim to the robe of His righteousness.