HELPLESS – BUT GOD!
“Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world be held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
But now, apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify.” Romans 3:19-21.
Doomed! We are all doomed. Paul’s conclusion is both terrifyingly condemning…
Everyone is guilty before God. There is no one privileged enough to escape His judgment and no one righteous enough to evade His scrutiny. No one on the planet, past, present or future, can perfectly measure up to His requirements. God’s holy nature is revealed in His Law. It is inflexible. It is objective. That’s what He demands and anything less is punishable by death.
…and gloriously liberating! So what can we do? The answer is, “Nothing!” We can do nothing and we need to do nothing. Why? God has already done everything; everything necessary to give us hope.
“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24.
No one can stand before God in his naked state. Sin has stained and polluted every person, regardless of what he has tried to do to gain acceptance with God. His spirit is dead and that is as final as physical death – unless God intervenes…and He has. Sin killed us, not only because we have all sinned but also because we all have a natural bent towards sin which cannot be cured by trying to obey rules. The law sets the standard but it cannot enable us to keep it. All it can do is reveal our guilt.
Why do people who know God’s law, be it in written form or in their conscience, still think that they can do something to satisfy God’s righteousness by trying to obey rules? Even some of those who claim to be believers in Jesus still try to satisfy God’s holy standards by working hard to please Him. How much better to admit defeat and accept God’s solution!
Imagine your small son, whom you have instructed not to help himself to cookies from the cookie jar, standing in front of you with a cookie in each hand. He has been caught red-handed. He is guilty and he cannot escape. You warned him that he would be spanked and sent to his room for the whole day if he disobeyed you. Now you must keep your word, even if he is sorry and promises never to do it again.
His older brother steps in. He adores his little brother and feels sorry for him. “I’ll take his punishment,” he tells you. Because he has never been guilty of transgressing your rule, you accept his offer. Little brother goes free while older brother receives the spanking and spends the day in isolation in his bedroom.
You have been perfectly just in punishing disobedience and at the same time merciful to the little boy who transgressed your law, because of his older brother’s compassion. That is exactly what God has done, but on a much higher level.
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because, in His forbearance He has left sins unpunished – He did this to demonstrate Hs righteousness as the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25, 26.
All we have to do is to accept His gift by believing what He says. It’s as simple as that. Was Jesus without sin? Most definitely yes! Did He die as a law breaker? Again, yes! He was executed as a blasphemer and as one who committed treason against Rome. Was He guilty as accused? Yes and no! What He said was true. He is the Son of God and King of the Jews…but not as He was judged to be. He said emphatically, “My kingdom is not of this world.” His kingdom transcended Rome and transcends all the kingdoms of this world.
How do we know He was telling the truth? God raised Him from the dead. Death is the punishment for sin, but death could not hold Him in its grip. After three days He walked out of the tomb. He is alive; and He sent His Spirit to live in the heart of every believer so that we are enabled to live the life He wants us to live. All this happens when we put our confidence in Him!
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