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The Bible by the Numbers > Day 10

Our Sufficiency Is In God (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)

The number six is the number of man, since man was created on the sixth day (Genesis 1:24-31). It is also representative in Scripture of man’s labor, since man is to work six days and to rest on the seventh, which “is a sabbath to the Lord” (Exodus 20:8-11). 


Being one short of seven, which represents the perfect and complete work of God, the number six points to the imperfection and insufficiency of man’s work. No matter how sincere our intentions or how hard we try, our best efforts always end up falling short of God’s standard (glory). They are, as Isaiah points out in Isaiah 64:6, “filthy rags” in the sight of God. Though injurious to our ego, the Bible relegates our best works and deeds to dirty laundry disgustingly pitched into the heavenly hamper. 


A good scriptural example of the inadequacy of human effort is the failure of Abraham’s sixfold intercession to spare the sinful city of Sodom from God’s impending judgment (Genesis 18:16-33). While the father of the faith tried his best, his best fell short of staying the hand of divine retribution. Likewise, our best prayers will prove totally ineffectual when prayed against the predestined program of divine providence.


Perhaps, we can now understand, more than ever, these familiar words of the Apostle Paul, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). What hope do sinners like us, who daily come short of God’s glory by failing to please a perfect God with our imperfection, have of being saved by our own works? The answer is unmistakable: None whatsoever! 


We are therefore eternally indebted to the perfect Christ—He who “is all together lovely” and with whom the Father is “well pleased” (Song of Solomon 5:16; Matthew 3:17; 12:18; 17:5)—for coming into this world and doing for us what we could never do for ourselves. He alone could work for us, imperfect men, a perfect salvation. Without Him and the sufficiency of His work, we would be eternally undone, as the number six so clearly shows.

Don Walton