From Pastor Brady

Our Fighter Verse this week records the response of Jesus to the religious leader’s question, “Why does he eat with sinners?”

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17.

What makes this story so compelling and even sad is that those who were “closest to God” were actually the farthest away. They considered themselves religious and therefore righteous, failing to see that they too are the “sinners” that Jesus came to call.

The important truth that Jesus is teaching, is that you must be lost before you can be found. You must be sick before you can be made well. And we are all born lost and we are all born sick.

The cure is righteousness, but not your own self- righteousness. That is what the scribes and Pharisees did not understand. They thought they could obey God’s law and earn their way into the presence and blessing of God. They failed to see that the presence and blessing of God was Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners. Of course we are all aware of people that are pursuing salvation through self-righteousness. Maybe a neighbor or co-worker that is convinced that their good works will get them to Heaven.

But what about as Christians? Can we make the same mistake? I believe we can. In fact, I believe that many Christians are trying to live the Christian life completely apart from Christ. Many have adopted a self-righteous brand of Christianity that seeks spiritual growth or sanctification through law keeping and good behavior. We live by systems that we build in order to have a well ordered “Christ centered” life that looks good to those outside of us.

One of the best ways to miss Jesus is by being very, very good. When we are very good we begin to see improved behavior as the equivalent of spiritual growth and transformation into Christ, and the truth is those two things are not the same thing. Yes it is true that you cannot be transformed into Christ without it affecting your behavior. BUT it is also true that changed behavior is not necessarily transformation into Christ likeness.

Spiritual growth comes from dependence. You only grow from need. If you are unaware of your neediness (like the scribes in Mark 2), then you will be content with mere behavior change and systems of self- righteousness. You will find yourself in a brand of sanctification that says things like “I’m not sinless but I sin less and less.” This sort of sanctification fails to see the need of having a Romans 7:24 experience – “O wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?” The truth is most of us wake up each morning and think “I’m going to try to please Jesus today,” but are completely unaware of how helpless we are to do that, and failing to see that TRYING to please God apart from dependency does not please God.

The real answer is dependence. Jesus saved you. He is your substituting savior. True spiritual growth only happens through dependence on Jesus and His cross.

What do you need today? A little help? A plan for fixing your life? Better behavior? A law to follow? To try harder?

No. What you need and what you should be desperate for is a Savior. What you need is the grace of someone who lived life for you and gives you that life in exchange for faith. Faith that tears through roofs to get to that grace.