Asceticism, austerity, mortification, penance, fasting, continence, privations of all kinds are means used by religious practices to achieve a certain moral perfection. We find, with more or less rigor, these various means proposed in all religious circles. Now the author of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us: “See that no one falls short of the grace of God…” (Hebrews 12:15).
When we sin, even if it is occasional, our natural tendency is to justify ourselves. We refuse to recognize our responsibility.
This is how Adam and Eve acted after the fall. In summary, Eve says, “It’s the serpent’s fault,” and Adam says, “It’s the woman you gave me to blame” (Genesis 3:12-13). As long as we seek to justify ourselves by placing ourselves as victims, we deprive ourselves of God's grace. As long as we seek to cover our sins, we deprive ourselves of God's grace. God does not ask us to justify our sins, nor to cover them with our merits. God simply asks us to recognize them. Not recognizing them is depriving oneself of God's grace. God will never be scandalized by our sins if we confess them to Him; he has already witnessed our sins when we committed them, and he loved us to the point of offering Jesus as an atoning victim. Not only is God not scandalized by our confessed sins, but He loves us all the more as we seek His grace and forgiveness.
God already knows our faults. The only thing he expects is that we do not deprive ourselves of his grace. All the efforts we can make to present ourselves before Him with our works are only superficial makeup that does not change the reality of our hearts. The religious people of Jesus' time knew how to clean the outside of the dish while the inside was full of spoils and impurities (Matthew 23:25). In doing so, they deprived themselves of God's grace. Legalism deprives us of God's grace. As Mike Oppenheimer wrote: "Legalism is often manifested by laws of men, which are unique to an assembly or group, but they can also be laws of the Old Testament. The law of the Bible is not something we do in order to be accepted by God or man but a mirror that shows us what we are doing wrong.
The law, which we transgress, reveals our sin to us so that we turn to the grace of God. Let us not deprive ourselves of God's grace by coming to him as we are.
"Lord, pardon for all the times when in wanting to justify ourselves, we have deprived ourselves of your grace. We pray to you that no one deprives themselves of your grace. Recognizing our faults is the only way to avoid not deprive yourself of your grace.
Whatever the sin committed, may everyone realize that your grace abounds where sin abounded! In the name of Jesus, amen!”