This passage has some very big concepts. Paul spends 4 chapters of Romans on these ideas, and here it is in 2 paragraphs.
At the very heart of sin is who is first in my life. If I’m doing things my way rather than God’s way I’m making myself the one in change rather than God. Even when it comes to doing God’s will. If I try to earn God’s favour by doing good things then I place myself in the position of power in the relationship. If I do the things that please God in order to gain eternal life, it is built on selfish motives. If I were even possible for me earn righteousness by my own actions then what Jesus did is unnecessary and worthless.
God’s law may be an expression of what pleases Him, but it was not given in the expectation that we could live up to it. It was given to show us that we cannot: that we need Christ to rescue us.
Rather, if I love God I want to please him. I do the things that please him out of love and gratitude for what He did in rescuing me, in giving me what I could not earn.
The actions I do may look the same, but the heart that motivates it is at one extreme or the other. And yet our hearts can sometimes be the hardest to tame (Jer. 17:9). In the same way that I cannot take the eternal life God freely gives me, God does not take my heart but hopes that I will freely give it.
Oh Lord I want a heart that loves you and seeks to please you first. Search my heart. Work with me to mould it into the heart we both want.
Written by David Cornell