There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
One of the perennial misconceptions about Christianity is that God views each of us as a sort of living scoreboard: one side lights up with our sins and failures, the other tallies our good deeds and victories, and so long as the good wins out in the final score, the results will be good enough for God—right?
But the fact of the matter is that if we tally up our sins and compare them to our obedience, we’re always losing. It’s not even a competition, really. Like when a pro team faces off against a junior varsity squad, it’ll be a blowout. Still, too many of us fool ourselves into thinking we have time for a comeback—we can fix ourselves up just enough before the final whistle blows or work hard enough to come out victorious.
Such thinking isn’t even on the same playing field as the gospel. And it misses grace entirely.
It is never our own score that helps our standing before God. No, it has to be Christ’s. In the words of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, your salvation “is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). The gift is Christ’s perfect tally in our place. Nothing less than His perfect righteousness will do.
When you really begin to understand the gospel, it sounds too good to be true. What person deserves such extravagant grace? But that is precisely the point. Our salvation is completely a gift, and it is utterly undeserved. We don’t deserve it now, nor could we ever. But God grants mercy to us regardless. He declares us victorious—no condemnation!—because of Jesus Christ, and only because of Him.
Being a Christian does not immunize you against taking a scoreboard approach to life. Paul’s entire letter to the Galatian church was to urge them not to give up on grace. We face a constant battle to remember that it is in Christ, and only ever in Christ and never in our performance, that we enjoy “no condemnation.” Have you lost the joy of your salvation? It is likely because you are looking too much at yourself and too little at Jesus. In the Christian life, there is no need for despair and no room for pride because it is never about you; it is always about Him.
In Christ Jesus, God gives you the win. There’s no greater gift, no greater victory, and no greater joy.