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Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ

What Great MysteryI can remember my first time lifting weights. Having zero athletic ability, coordination or training, it seemed a daunting task to repeatedly lift the heavy load above me. Anxiously, I took my place on the bench seat. I gripped the bar tightly and lifted. An unbearable weight instantly crushed my body and my spirit. I closed my eyes, my arms shaking, longing for relief.

The law of God is like that weight. We are hopeless to fulfill even a part of it, much less the whole. Sin permeates every facet of who we are.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:20, 23 ESV

The relief I longed for but was incapable of providing myself is like Jesus’ atoning sacrifice:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

This is where the beauty of the gospel shines through repeatedly in the life of the Christian. When we consider the vastness and severity of God’s law and our inability to keep it, there is no hope. God requires perfection and we can’t deliver. We are dead in sin. However, Christ, through pain, suffering, humiliation, loss, and ultimately death perfectly fulfilled the law and served as the substitute for God’s judgment upon us. Through grace alone by faith alone, Christ imputes his righteousness to us, cleansing us of sin and restoring us to communion with the Father.

The Corner Room’s latest project, What Great Mystery, is a collection of five hymns that explores the mercy of God for sinners. One of these is a retuning of Horatius Bonar’s hymn, “Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ.”

Thy works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart;
They tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart.

Thy pains, not mine, O Christ, upon the shameful tree,
Have paid the law’s full price and purchased peace for me.

To whom, save thee, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

Thy cross, not mine, O Christ, has borne the awful load
Of sins that none in heaven or earth could bear but God.

To whom, save thee, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

Thy righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me:
No righteousness avails save that which is of thee.

To whom, save thee, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

The magnitude of God’s love for sinners through Jesus’ sacrifice should both fill us with joy and humble our hearts to worship. The truths in this hymn resonate with the assurance found in Romans 8:1-4:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Listen to "Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ" now.

The Corner Room (TCR) is a music ministry of Cahaba Park Church, PCA in Birmingham, AL. Created by chief musician, Adam Wright, TCR strives to create unique and innovative music for the church. Their Psalm-to-song (ESV) project, Psalm Songs, has had critical acclaim reaching churches all over the US and abroad. They've most recently released an EP of hymns called What Great Mystery and are hard at work on their next release, a 3-part musical suite of 1 Corinthians 13 word-for-word from the ESV Bible. To purchase CDs, t-shirts and chord charts/lead sheets, visit cornerroommusic.com.

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