No one does good, not even one. (ROMANS 3:12)

Bankrupt! The word has a dreadful ring to it. Even in our lax and permissive society, being bankrupt still conveys some degree of disgrace and shame.

In the moral realm, the word bankrupt has an even more disparaging connotation. To say a person is morally bankrupt is to say he or she is completely devoid of any decent moral qualities. It’s like comparing that person to Adolf Hitler.

You may never have thought of it this way, but you are bankrupt. You and I and every person in the world are spiritually bankrupt. Except for Jesus Christ, every person who has ever lived has been spiritually bankrupt. In Romans 3:10–12, Paul declared our spiritual bankruptcy in its most absolute state. We were spiritually destitute, owing God a debt we couldn’t pay. Then we learned salvation is a gift from God, entirely by grace through faith (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8–9). We renounced confidence in any supposed righteousness of our own and turned in faith to Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. In that act, we essentially declared spiritual bankruptcy.

But what kind of bankruptcy did we declare? In the business world, financially troubled companies can declare bankruptcy according to “chapter 7”—if it has no future as a viable business—or “chapter 11,” for companies that, given time, can work through their financial problems.

So what kind of bankruptcy did we declare—permanent or temporary? I think most of us actually declared temporary bankruptcy. Having trusted in Christ alone for our salvation, we have subtly and unconsciously reverted to a works relationship with God in our Christian lives. We recognize that even our best efforts cannot get us to heaven, but we do think they earn God’s blessings in our daily lives.

Jerry Bridges

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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