When To-Do Lists Fail

Read: Romans 9:30-10:4

They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. (10:2)

I love my daily to-do list. It keeps me focused on activities that will help accomplish my goals. I take pleasure in checking the boxes at the end of the day. And, if I do something that wasn’t on my list, I write it down so I can check it off! According to Paul, that’s exactly how many Israelites interpreted God’s law. They treated God’s commandments like a to-do list. Check off the boxes and you earn God’s righteousness. Sounds like a good way to know your salvation is secure, right?

Not exactly. While this approach does show a zeal for God, obedience to the law can never secure salvation because no one can obey perfectly in a way that satisfies God’s holiness. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Pursuing righteousness through the law cannot work (9:31). True righteousness comes only through faith in Christ, who is “the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (10:4).

Even the Old Testament saints were saved by faith in God’s promises and not by obedience to the law. Hebrews 11 says “by faith” repeatedly to remind us that salvation comes by faith alone in Christ alone. It is Christ alone who fulfilled the law of God perfectly so that he alone could offer “himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14). Salvation is not a checkoff box on our to-do list. Thanks be to God! —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, place your faith in the righteousness of Jesus.

About the Author

jon opgenorth

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.