Yesterday I took my contracts exam. Then last evening I went to a large-group Bible study at my church, and on the way home I was listening to the song “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. Part of the chorus says, “My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You.” I’ve heard this song many times before, but it struck me in a new way last night.
In any type of law, it’s often wise for a defendant to bring up multiple defenses. You can challenge the factual basis of a claim—stating the other side didn’t prove its burden—or you can raise “affirmative” defenses, justifications, or excuses. Maybe a defendant was justified acting in self-defense Or a defendant who breached a contract should be excused because the task was impossible. There are a variety of ways to defend someone, and good lawyers will often try to put more than one egg in the basket.
Sometimes a lawyer will bring up defenses that don’t even go together, arguing one “in the alternative” of the other. For example, “The defendant didn’t have a duty to care for X person, but if you think think he did have a duty, then he didn’t violate that duty.” or “The contract didn’t say X, but if it did, the defendant should be excused because he made a mistake and never really agreed to it.”
We might think that there is security in multiple defenses, but in truth, an effective defense will get someone acquitted, and a thousand mediocre defenses will just leave someone with higher attorney fees.
So with the law on my mind, I listened to the “Lord, I need You” with fresh appreciation for its truth—we don’t need an alternative defense or backup plan.
Just one will suffice. The One.
And yet so often I live as if I’m waiting in uncertainty for the verdict to be announced. In the worry of “will I be enough?” “Have I done enough?” As if the backup defense is somehow needed. As if my success and good deeds will up my chances with the Judge.
But instead what is required, repentance and faith: “Yes, Lord, I’ve sinned. But I plead not guilty by reason of Jesus’ blood.”
This defense cannot fail. It fully vindicates corrupt hearts headed for eternal death. And it’s always available to all people, no matter the sin, no matter the crime.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1