What is it like to seek someone’s approval only to feel like you can never measure up to that person’s standards, like nothing you do is ever good enough? You may have experienced that in a relationship with a parent or a spouse or a boss or a teacher. It is beyond frustrating and can lead to anger and despair. This is what Martin Luther experienced in his relationship with God. The harder he tried to please God, the more he realized he could not meet the unrelenting demands of God’s Law for continual obedience and purity of heart. Luther’s problem is our problem. How do we satisfy God? How do we gain His approval? We come to the same answer Luther did: If it’s up to us, we don’t; we can’t gain His approval by our efforts.
But everything changed for Luther when God opened his eyes to this truth: "In the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last." (Romans 1:17) Righteousness is 'right-ness' with God. Put another way, to have righteousness is to have God’s approval. Previously, Luther had only known the righteousness OF God, His standard of holiness that none of us can measure up to. But do you see what Luther saw? The gospel is the good news of righteousness FROM God. The approval you desperately need and long for comes FROM GOD, TO YOU, through faith in Jesus. He lived a life that fully met God’s approval and gave up His life as the righteous sacrifice to fully satisfy God’s wrath against sinners. His resurrection proves that His sacrifice was fully accepted and that we are fully approved through faith in Him. YOU HAVE GOD’S APPROVAL THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS! The gospel changed Luther’s life; I pray that it changes your life today as well. I leave you with Luther’s reflection on how precious this approval from God is: "If you want to be comforted when your conscience plagues you or when you are in dire distress, then you must do nothing but grasp Christ in faith and say, 'I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who suffered, was crucified, and died for me. In His wounds and death, I see my sin. In His resurrection, I see the victory over sin, death, and the devil. I see righteousness and eternal life as well. I want to see and hear nothing except Christ.' "
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Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
Daniel is the Staff Minister at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, El Paso TX.