For when you are deeply aware of your sin, and of what an affront it is to God’s holiness, and how impossible it is for Him to respond to this sin with anything other than furious wrath—you can only be overwhelmed with how amazing grace is.  ~C.J. Mahaney 

Some of us just never get it.  We deserve nothing better than Hell.  How different our relationships with one another would be if we were to truly grasp this truth.  We’d demend far less from one another and extend grace all the more.

God loves us not because he has to, he has no obligation to concern himself with such self-centered mortals.  We have broken his holy laws—for coveteouness, lusts, and idolatry have overtaken our hearts in his place.  When worship should have been our response to Jesus Christ we cursed instead.  God loves us because he wants to, we’d prefer he did so because he had to.  We’d be off the hook then.  We could pat ourselves on the back every once in ahwile if that were the case.  But it’s not.  Our rightousness is as pure as a glass of water laced with arsinic.  Our motives are impure.  Our hearts harbor evil.  If God were operating on a merit basis we’d all be looking forward to a future in a lake of fire.  If God were dishing out his love based on even our best behavior our bowls would be dry.  If God were giving us grace due to our Sunday-best behavior we’d be out of luck.

How few of us ever have our eyes opened!  Our one hope, our only hope—is in Christ.  He is all, or he is nothing.  Jesus is our free pass, not some coupon to be combined with our good intent.  That may offend us, but the scriptures declare the offense of the cross, not the niceties of the cross.  We can bet our last dollar that the cross of Christ will be at odds with our pride.

 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:15-21, ESV).

Is your hope in vain?  What are hoping for?  Are hoping for a chance that you’ll have a shot at get getting some consideration for all of the nice things you have done?  Or, are you placing all bets on the exclusive hope offered in Jesus Christ?