Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord. Deuteronomy 9:6-7 ESV
As part of Moses’ final exhortation to the Israelites, he tells them to remember their rebellion. Interestingly Moses wants them to remember their past so they are not confused about why they were called out by God. He was warning them against pride. Against believing they earned God’s grace by their own righteousness.
We often make two different errors in regards to our pasts. Either we completely ignore our past, after all God said, “…I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 ESV Or we live in the past confessing sin over and over again never experiencing the fact that “there is…now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV
Both are forms of pride. Pride that somehow we were partially responsible for saving ourselves or pride that God could never do anything with a sinner like me. Neither lead to us living for God, flourishing, or becoming more like Jesus.
So how do we take a sober look back or even in the mirror and not land in the trap of self-righteousness or self-condemnation?
We must remember that God’s grace is never earned, otherwise it would cease to be grace. He loved us enough to die for us while we were spitting in His face. In other words we are far worse sinners than we can fathom, but God’s love is far greater than our worst. We can never earn God’s love any more than we could out sin God’s grace.
That is the beauty of God’s love. Once we agree that Jesus is boss of our lives and that He paid the penalty for our sins (one that we could never pay), we can live in God’s grace. What we cannot do is forget the depths of our sin and thus slip into self-righteousness. Nor can we allow the depths of our sin to keep us from living in the freedom of God’s grace.
May we lay down our best efforts to earn God’s love and let go of our pasts in the depths of God’s grace.
Father God I confess that I often allow the depths of my sinful self keep me from serving You. Other times I allow self-righteousness to creep in and I become a proud judgmental fool. Forgive my pride. Give me eyes that see the depths of Your grace are beyond the depths of my depravity. Help me to live in sober judgment not only of my sin, but also of Your grace. Then empower me by Your Spirit to serve You all my days. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.