"Salvation unto us has come by God's free grace and favor, good works cannot avert our doom, they help and save us never. Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone who did for all the world atone. He is our One Redeemer.
"Faith clings to Jesus' cross alone and rests in Him unceasing; and by its fruits true faith is known, with love and hope increasing. For faith alone can justify; works serve our neighbor and supply the proof that faith is living."
Three years ago, my sister stepped off a ladder, thinking she had descended to the bottom step. She was in fact, two steps up. When she landed on the floor, her leg broke and shattered in multiple places. I describe this painful scene to illustrate the fall into sin. When mankind in its deception ate the fruit in the garden, we stepped off the ladder and instantly became broken.
My sister describes to me a recurring thought she has had since her fall. It's the moment right before stepping off the ladder. If she had just checked or gone down another rung, she imagines she could have averted the years of hardship that were to follow. At times, the moment is so real in her mind, it seems she could change the outcome -- if just she willed it.
I remember that feeling after my first driving mishap when I was 18. Trying to park, I scraped the driver's side door of the car to my right. It was such a simple mistake that I felt like I could almost put the car in reverse and somehow erase the scratch. Sin is like that. The ravages of sin, along with its consequences, have entered our hearts, and nothing we do can undo that. We need a Savior for that problem.
Yet, frequently, we still think our good works can save us from the disaster that is at work in our souls. That's like my sister thinking if only she chose the right doctor she would have been walking again in a few weeks. It's not that our actions don't matter. Of course, they matter. All kinds of choices helped my sister through the healing process. It's just that nothing we do can repair the damage already done. Again, we need a Savior for that!
Thankfully, Jesus came, and by virtue of being fully God, He alone in the human race did not step off the ladder. At the same time, being fully human, He experienced all the temptations we do. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, we want so badly to fix what is broken in us -- and in the world around us. Help us surrender control to You, confess that we are not sufficient, and rest in Your redeeming grace at work in our broken lives. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "Salvation Unto Us Has Come," which is found on page 863 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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