Uh-oh. I don’t think I’m going to make it.

It’s hard for me to believe but I’ve been working at Kodak for close to 41 years. When Idi started there in 1976 it was still a Dow Jones dynamo with 60,000 people employed locally. Back then the cameras and film flew off the store shelves faster than we could re-supply them. My, things certainly have changed! Goodbye film and cameras! Hello cellphones! The company is now just a shell of itself with only about 3000 employed in the Rochester area.

I started in the company with a guy named Doug who was a few years older than me. After working at Kodak for about a year, Doug got the idea of joining the Marine Corps. and going to law school on their dime. Doug didn’t strike me as someone who could survive 13-weeks at Parris Island boot camp but I kept my mouth shut. On his last day, the department threw a big going-away party for Doug at a local restaurant. There was toast after toast. Back in the 1970s, with money coming in hand over fist, they didn’t need much of an excuse at Kodak to throw a work party.

Well, after about a month, there was Doug back at the time clock punching in again, a little slimmer and with a Marine crew cut. Nothing needed to be said and nothing was said. The look of shame and embarrassment on his face said it all. He obviously didn’t make it through the agony of boot camp.

The Marine Corps. has some pretty high standards. Not every Tom, Dick, and Harry (or Mary) can waltz in off the street and make the grade. But as I read God’s Word, I began to understand how impossibly high God’s standards are. Parris Island is a cakewalk in comparison. God is absolutely perfect. God is holy even beyond our comprehension.

“Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts! – Isaiah 6:5

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:48

Me? Oy vey! I fail God every day in either thought, word, deed, or by omission. I could never measure up to God’s standard, not in a million years of trying. Only one person in the history of mankind ever met God’s holy and perfect standard and that was His Son, Jesus Christ. God knew we could never cut it on our own but He loves us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to this world to live a perfect life and then take the punishment for our sins by dying on the cross. But Christ didn’t stay dead. He beat sin and the grave when He rose from the tomb. He offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all who repent of their sins and ask Him to save them by faith. Won’t you pray to Him today?

Last week I was driving home from work and I tuned into the local Catholic radio station. Talk show host, Al Kresta, and his guest were talking about Islam. Al stated that he felt sorry for Muslims because they had no joy. Allah seemed so stern and demanding unlike the (c)hristian’s God. But Catholics don’t have any true joy in the Lord, either. Not really. They have been taught they must constantly receive grace from the sacraments and then obey the Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly right up until the moment of their death. They can never be sure of their salvation because it all depends on how well they perform. Catholics are even taught that if they think they’re going to Heaven they commit the “sin of presumption.” They’re like Doug at boot camp; trying hard to make the grade but constantly worrying if the demanding drill instructor is going to send them away in defeat and humiliation.

I tried and tried but I couldn’t meet God’s holy standard. The Ten Commandment DIs were all over me: Not good enough. Too soft. No discipline. Caves easily to temptation. Disgusting. Shameful. A failure. Arrrgh!

I’m sooooooo happy my Savior stepped in and unlocked my fetters and pulled me out of the chain gang. He imputed His perfect righteousness to me, the last person who deserves it. I can offer no plea, no righteousness of my own, only the perfect righteousness of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!!! Now that’s true JOY!!!

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21

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11 thoughts on “Uh-oh. I don’t think I’m going to make it.

  1. I keep on wondering where you got the idea that Catholics are under obligation to obey Ten Commandments perfectly. Can you point out the official teaching of the Church or did it come from your wild imagination or from what your Reformed pastors or friends told you?
    Christ indeed commanded us to obey the commandments, just read Luke 10:27-28. He also provides us with Grace that enables us to obey His commandments – apart from Him we can do nothing as stated in John 15:5. Thus our ability either to believe in Him or to obey His Commandments comes from and are only possible with God’s Grace. Contrary to what you wrote there are two graces: Actual Grace (that comes without sacraments but direct from God through Christ) and Sanctifying grace (that comes through sacraments instituted by Christ or His Apostles). Yes, we are born with sinful nature and nobody can obey them perfectly and that is the reason why Christ gave authority to forgive sins to the Church (John 20:22-23). Scripture says there are deadly and non-deadly sins (1 John 5:16). There is no such Catholic teaching saying we have to obey Ten Commandments and Church rules perfectly until the moment of our death in order to enter heaven. Following Scripture (Ezekiel 18:21,24, 26, 27) Catholic believe we will enter heaven if we die without any un-repented and unforgiven deadly sins. Salvation neither depends on how many good works (be they obeying Commandments or Church rules or partaking Sacraments) nor the amount of sins (be they deadly or non-deadly ones) we committed through-out our life. Nobody can repent from sin without grace from God given through Christ. Salvation in Catholicism is by grace and not (and never) by works.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. You state, “There is no such Catholic teaching saying we have to obey Ten Commandments and church rules perfectly until the moment of our death in order to enter heaven.”

      Then, immediately after you state, “Following Scripture (Ezekiel 18:21,24, 26, 27) Catholic believe we will enter heaven if we die without any un-repented and unforgiven deadly sins.”

      And so you contradict yourself and ultimately prove my case. Every Catholic who writes me makes the same exact contradiction, i.e., salvation is a gift of God, but I must merit that gift by obeying all the commandments. It’s an amazing dichotomy to witness.

      Devoted Catholics such as yourself spend time and energy defending a church that teaches even atheists can merit heaven if they follow their conscience and are “good.” But God’s Word tells us absolutely no one is good, which is why Jesus died for us and why we need to accept Him as Savior.

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      1. Either you pretend not to understand or I didn’t explain it clearly. Let me repeat. Catholics are not expected to obey Ten Commandments perfectly throughout their life as you falsely charge. They commit sins, both deadly and non-deadly ones (1 John 5:16) from time to time. God’s grace then moves them to repent and to ask forgiveness through Sacrament of reconciliation. Then his sins will be forgiven. Of course he will sin again and the process is repeated and so on. If a person died with just one deadly sin then will go to hell – all his good works will not be taken into account (Ezekiel 18:24, 26). If he died without any deadly sin then all his past sins will not be taken into account either (Ezekiel 18:21, 27).
        You only quote one verse saying that no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). This technique of citing one verse to support a belief was employed by the devil when he tempted Christ – the devil even preceded it with the famous phrase “it is written” (Luke 4:10). Christ’ response to the devil’s attempt was quoting from other verses that say otherwise. In the same way we can quote verses to explain what Romans 3:10 means. Scripture does say there are righteous men. According to Scripture Noah (Genesis 6:9, Ezekiel 14:14), Daniel and Job (Ezekiel 14:14) were righteous. There other righteous men without naming them (Psalms 1:6, 5:12, 34:15, Matthew 5:45, 13:17, 10:41, 23:29, 1 Peter 3:12 etc.). Scripture cannot contradict itself. To reconcile of Romans 3:10 with those verses is no one can be righteous without grace of God. This explain why there were (and are) righteous persons in the Bible despite what Romans 3:10 says. After all scriptural definition of being righteous is he who does what is righteous (1 John 3:7) and righteous acts should include repenting from sin.

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      2. Thanks. Once again we quibble over semantics. Every Catholic’s goal is to be in a sinless “state of grace” at the moment of their death. How do they achieve this sinless “state of grace”? By perfectly obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible) and church rules or by receiving absolution from a priest immediately prior to death, which sounds quite a bit like my original statement. Catholics will say the ability to obey the commandments and rules can only be attributed to God’s grace yet Rome states that every individual must “cooperate with grace” in order to merit Heaven. Some Catholics obviously do not cooperate with grace and they die with “mortal” sin, and go to hell, so obedience and works are the deciding factor in the Catholic system. Since you do acknowledge that Catholics are unable to achieve a constant “state of grace” and must periodically avail themselves of a priest’s absolution, they must time their death at the precise moment they are in a “state of grace” in order to merit Heaven.

        Scripture teaches us that justification comes only through the imputed perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. We have no righteousness of our own. I disobey the Ten Commandments every single day, either in thought, word, deed, or by omission. I could not achieve a “state of grace” for one day let alone the twelve-month period Catholics are obliged to go to confession at least once. Yet we know that 88% of American Catholics don’t go to confession at least once a year as they are required to, so they pick up yet another “mortal” sin. The whole system is a sham. Even your fellow members don’t believe in it as demonstrated by their actions. Read Luke 18:9-14 again. You are the pharisee in the story, thinking you can merit your way into Heaven (with God’s grace of course), but you need to be like the tax collector, acknowledging you are without one single plea of your own. Ask Jesus Christ to save you and put your faith in Him alone. Come out of Catholic error and ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that preaches the Gospel without compromise.

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  2. Wow I had to laugh at this one with the opening story. Especially as a Marine Veteran. I know you don’t know this but I’m not actually very big and I’m of Asian descent so that picture made me laugh. I was always the smallest guy every where I went in the Marines and for years while I was in the Marines I was convinced I had some kind of bug from Iraq that made me lose weight. It was God’s grace I carried out my responsiblities and at times I carried more than some of the other Marines being a Marine radio operator. Marines boot camp is cake walk compare to war, and that too is a cake walk compared to being good enough on one’s own merit as the basis of going to heaven.

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    1. Thanks for sharing those personal details, Jim. I think I told you both of my sons went into the Air Force and the younger one is still in until he gets his 20 years in 2021. As a teen he was a good athlete and tough as nails so I kept encouraging him to join the Marines. I thought the AF might not be enough of a challenge for him. He still chides me for pushing him towards the Marines. He’s like, “What were you trying to do to me Dad, get me killed?”

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  3. Hi Tom!
    Excellent post. I nearly joined the marines after high school but ended up joining the AF. Basic training was not the boot camp of the marines, but our big black TI sure did get in my face a couple of times during marching drills. I am thankful we all have a loving God who has forgiven us through Jesus Christ our Lord! He doesn’t rip off our heads and s*** down our necks like earthly drill sergeants lol.

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    1. Thanks a lot, Nathan! Both of our sons went into the AF. The youngest is still in and needs only 4 more years to hit 20. Funny story, when our oldest son went to boot camp my mother sent him a big Hickory Farms gift pack. His TI intercepted the package and went up one side of him and down the other, shouting at him the last thing his fat butt needed was sticks of summer sausage. Ha, ha, ha. Of course our son never saw the package after that.

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