Certain people in life mystify me. For instance, there is a sizable portion of our population who, when given a choice between unsweet tea and sweet tea, choose unsweet … only to add sugar to it.
Have you ever tried to stir sugar into iced tea? You put in what you think is enough and take the first sip. Still bitter.
So you keep adding and keep stirring and, while you have all these little particles floating around, it’s nearly impossible to get it sweet enough. But you keep drinking, and by the time you get to the bottom of the glass, you discover half an inch of sugar that never dissolved.
Pastor Tony Evans says that trying to sweeten iced tea is like trying to sweeten your spirit through the law. Here’s how he put it:
Many of you are trying to make it to God’s heaven by stirring up your own righteousness. You are stirring as hard as you can—got to live right today, got to do better today, got to go to church today, got to give money today. And you stir and you stir, and it’s still not sweet. You’ve stirred your life the best you can, but stuff is still settling at the bottom, and it’s just not blending in.
The righteousness Jesus Christ offers is the end of your stirring. He’ll make you into sweet tea. He is the end of the law to everyone who believes because he’s already fulfilled the law for you and put his Spirit into you.
There are only two approaches to God: the sweet tea approach and the try-to-sweeten-unsweet-iced-tea approach. In one approach, God infuses you with new life. In the other, we work our tails off trying to earn that life ourselves.
One approach is an attempt to establish your own righteousness—this is religion that is spelled D-O. In the other, righteousness is given to you as a gift, spelled D-O-N-E.
If you’re convinced you can do enough to be accepted by God, you’ll never submit to the message about what he’s done.
If you’re convinced you can do enough to be accepted by God, you’ll never submit to the message about what he’s done
Don’t let anyone tell you that all religions are the same. They may all teach you to do good things: Be kind, love people, tell the truth. But the basis for doing those good things is entirely different in Christianity than every other religion.
C.S. Lewis said, “What separates Christianity from every other religion is grace. We obey in gratitude and love for the God who saved us, not in order to gain his favor.”
In every other religion, you do those things to be accepted by God; in Christianity, you do those things because you have been accepted by God. Your do is fueled by his done. In any other religion, you say, “I obey; therefore I will be accepted.” The gospel says, “I am accepted; therefore I will obey.”
Romans 10:4 says, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (CSB). After you’ve received the righteousness of Christ, you no longer need the law to give you righteousness—and that produces a different spirit in you.
In other words, after Christ credits you with his righteous record and puts his sweet Spirit inside you, you no longer need to add it artificially or stir your calendar frantically to establish it. What is needed has already been done.