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Isaiah 1:11-12 – “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?” says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts?”

Micah 6:6-7 – With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Matthew 7:22-23 – Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Galatians 2:16 – A man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; since by the works of the law no flesh will be justified.

     How many goals did he score last year? How many points did he put up? What was his Corsi percentage? What type of stats does he have? This is how we rack and stack athletes – by their stats. It’s very easy, and dangerous, for an athlete to find their identity in their statistics. It’s not just athletes who do this– many people define who they are by what they do, by their ‘stats’. Many believe they will go to heaven because they have good stats – they are trying to earn their way into heaven - but God says it doesn’t work this way.

     The Lord spoke against the Israelites for adhering to the letter of the law but having hearts far from Him (Isaiah 1:11-17). Hundreds of years later Jesus similarly spoke against the scribes and Pharisees - Matthew 23:23 - Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. The Pharisees were concerned only with what could be measured by men and looking good to people – they were concerned about their stats - but neglected the more important matters – those of the heart.

     It doesn’t matter how many good things you do – your ‘stats’ will not give you right standing before the Lord. You can build orphanages, feed the poor, give God ten thousand dollars, ten thousand rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil (Micah 6:6-7), you can speak in the language of angels, or sacrifice your own body (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), prophesy, cast out demons, or perform miracles (Matthew 7:22-23) – none of these are acceptable before the Lord on their own. We cannot lift ourselves by our own bootstraps. There will be people who stand before the Lord and think they will have entrance to heaven because they’ve done good things - because they have good stats, but Jesus will have some terrifying words for them – Matthew 7:23 - I never knew you.  Depart from Me you workers of lawlessness.

     2 Corinthians 5:21 – He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Those who do not rely on their own good works, but on the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, who do good works for the right reason, will hear very different words – Matthew 25:23b – ‘Come and share your master’s happiness!’. It’s not your ‘stats’ that matter, but love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5).

In what areas of your life do you try and look good in front of people instead of honoring God first?
Do you try to earn God’s favor by the good things you do? Or do you try and do good works out of a sincere faith to please the Lord?

For additional reading see Amos 5:21-23, Romans 3:19-28, James 2:14-26

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