Reflection: Yesterday we dwelt on the biblical truth that God’s moral laws are wise and trustworthy. But in practice – because we live in a fallen world – their existence presents a massive practical problem for humanity. God’s laws set an impossible standard of holiness. No mere human being has ever complied with them fully – or come close (see Ps. 14, quoted by Paul in the verses immediately preceding today’s passage; cf. 1 Kings 8:46, Ps. 130:3, 143:2).
An early Christian heresy, advanced by Pelagius, was that human beings could be holy with little or no help from God. Pelagius’ ideas ran directly counter to many passages of Scripture (including today’s) and in due course were scotched. Yet variations on the theme continued to gain currency from time to time. Famously, in 1519, Martin Luther had his epoch-making epiphany. True holiness in God’s sight cannot be earned by law-keeping, however earnest or outwardly impressive one’s efforts (Eph. 2:8-9).
Question: Do you imagine that you are a good person?
Prayer: Father, convict me – or re-convict me – of the impossibility of fulfilling your Law by my own unaided efforts. Convict me that I will never please you, let alone come near to emulating your perfect holiness, if I assume that attitude. Amen