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My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts   

There are many Christians who think that strict observance of the law and the commandments that God has given us is the shortcut to heaven, and so they make a great effort to do this. No matter how hard a person may try, however, he will not be able to keep these commandments to absolute perfection.

Suppose someone is using an iron chain to climb a cliff. If this chain were to break, the man would fall to the bottom of the cliff, but how many of the links of the chain would have to break for the man to fall? It would be enough if just one of them broke.

In the same way, if you were to observe the whole law and fail on just one detail, it would all be in vain. In the Bible it says, "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10)

There is a limit to the number of good works a person can do. It is not possible to keep the whole of the law. So when an individual stands before the words of the law, he comes to realize his incompetence and his helplessness.

There is a Bible verse that says, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick" (Matthew 9:12). Fundamentally, every human being is spiritually ill and in need of a spiritual physician. When it comes to the basic spiritual illness from which we are all suffering??that is, the need to get rid of our sins??we cannot apply our own good deeds. We need to acknowledge that there is no way that we can rid ourselves of our sins through our own efforts and we should give up trying to do this. We also need to have the prayer in our hearts that says, "I am a sinner. Please forgive me." Even so, many people strive to cover up their sins with their own good deeds.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

As these verses tell us, salvation comes through faith and not as a result of actions. It is not our own righteousness and our own good works that qualify us to be able to go to heaven; we go there by faith in the power of the cross of Jesus. Before I came to know this truth, I thought that any good deeds I performed would help, in at least some small way, to qualify me to go to heaven. I tried my best to do good deeds, but later I discovered that my thoughts and God's thoughts were completely different.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God's thoughts are on a different level from the thoughts of man. That is why we are asked to return to God.

Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Inside a person's heart, there is evil and there is sin. Since the cause of sin lies inside man, no matter how much good we do on the outside, we cannot get rid of our sin.

I once heard an amusing story about a high school student who had just inhaled from a cigarette when a teacher caught him. The teacher confronted him, but the student pretended that he had not been smoking. When he opened his mouth to deny it, however, smoke came out. The smoke that had already entered his lungs had no other way of escaping. In the same way, no matter how hard you may try not to commit sins, since sin is already inside you, it cannot help but come out.

Let me ask you a question. Are we sinners because we have sinned? Or do we sin because we are sinners? Man sins for the simple reason that he is a sinner. It is not that he becomes a sinner as a result of sinning. This is why God said, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord... for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:7). Since God's thoughts and man's thoughts are so different, God asks us not to misunderstand this point.


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