Rewarded according to our works? (part 9)

It’s not surprising, living in a culture that lives and breathes the idea that “Life is what you make it,” that religions live and breathe the idea that “Eternal life is what you make it,” too. Not only is it up to us to make this life happen, it’s up to us to make the next life happen, too.

No it isn’t, the Bible says, because “the mind of sinful man is death,” Romans 8:6, so the only thing we’re capable of making of life is death. Our bodies are “dead because of sin,” verse 10, and the Bible includes everybody in that, Romans 3:23, because we’ve “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We had our chance at eternal life but we blew it. One sin, game over. And now sin has made us “hostile to God,” Romans 8:7, and it’s stuck us with a mind that “does not submit to God’s law, NOR can it do so.” We are powerless, therefore, to do anything of eternal benefit. Even God’s law is not powerful enough to override our hostility toward God because it’s “weakened by our sinful nature,” verse 3. So now we’re really stuck: we can greatly want eternal life, and be willing to do anything to get it, but we’re already dead and helpless because of our sinful nature, and dead people can’t do anything.

So what do we do now? Read verse 13, where Paul says “by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body.” We’ve got some powerful help. We have the Holy Spirit on our side to kill off what’s killing us. Our sinful nature is no match for the Spirit, which is great to know because “if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Life, therefore, is what the Spirit makes it. It’s the Spirit that makes things happen, not us.

Typical worldly religion, however, insists that if we obey all its rules, regulations and rituals, that’s how we make our eternal life happen. No, says Paul, that’s a crock; it’s only by the Spirit living in us that our eternal life happens. Any religion, therefore, that tells us we are the ones who make our eternity happen, or that eternal life is what WE make it, can be utterly dismissed, because it’s denying us poor humans the only source of help we’ve got in dealing with what’s killing our chances at eternal life – our awful sinful nature…(no part 10 – yet!)


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