Do you know what God hates most? One of the things he hates most is boasting by sinful men and women who want people to notice how well they are doing spiritually. Moreover, he says that one reason why he does things the way he does is that he does not want us boasting in his presence. If God did not receive us entirely apart from whatever ability or credentials we might be able to present, but if instead he looked for those who had made some achievements in life, even though he saved them by grace, adding much to that little bit they had already done–there would be boasting in heaven.
Let me illustrate. Take a man who on God’s scale of a hundred had achieved seventy-five. We know that no man can be in heaven unless he is as perfect as Jesus Christ. Obviously, he cannot be saved by himself. He needs help. So God says, “All right, I’ll give you the twenty-five that you are missing.” Now the man has a hundred; now he is saved. Suppose that there is a second man who has only thirty. He needs seventy to be perfect. But God is gracious, so God comes along and gives him what he needs. Now let us suppose that these two meet in heaven. What are they saying? Well, I know what the first man is saying. He’s saying “I’m here because I got seventy-five and God had to give me only twenty-five. He had to give you seventy. So I am 45 percent better than you are.”
You see, that is what would happen if God acknowledged any human merit whatever. But God does not do it. God would not want boasting. So what he does in the matter of salvation is give each one a hundred percent of his own righteousness. Now both are equal before God. Boasting is excluded, and God is glorified in his grace.
Well, now, what does that mean personally? First, it means that whatever gives you status (spiritually) must be put aside if you are to have God’s blessing. Are you a man or woman who considers yourself wise? God says that you have to relinquish your own wisdom in spiritual things, because no matter how much wisdom you have, your ability in wisdom is never going to carry you to the perception of spiritual things. So, if you would be saved, you must say, “My wisdom, no matter how great it is, is inadequate. What I need is the illumination of the Holy Spirit to help me understand that which I would never understand by my own ability.”
Or again, are you one who considers yourself to have strength (spiritually speaking)? You are one who can achieve; you can do things; You are strong enough to overcome temptations. God says that you must relinquish that strength because it, too, is inadequate. Oh, you can deal with externals in the area of morality, to be sure; but you cannot change your heart. If your heart is not loving, you cannot make it loving. If your thoughts are impure, you cannot make them pure. So God says to you that you must begin by recognizing your own weakness. You must say, “Lord Jesus Christ, do for me what I cannot do for myself.”
It is the same in the area of status, whether that status is of birth, achievement, fame, or whatever it may be. Those things may give you status in the eyes of other men and women, but they cannot give you status in the sight of the Holy God. God says, “If you come to me with your status, you cannot be saved. But if you are willing to lay that aside, then I will give you a new status, a greater status, a blessed status, that flows entirely from my grace.” God says that you must be born again; you must start from scratch. You must become a new creature from A to Z.