I AM the God who justifies, who makes you righteous. Rom 3:21-31

Where then is boasting?  It is excluded.

I heard it said that we can tell what we are relying on in your Christian walk by how we

Barbed wire at the Dead Sea

Barbed wire at the Dead Sea

respond when we are successful or when we fail by sinning.  When we are successful under the law, we get proud.  But when we sin under the law, we get despondent.  However, when we are successful under grace, we give praise to Christ.  But when we sin under grace we give thanks for his forgiveness and grace.  Our responses show us or betray us as to what we are relying on for success in our Christian walks.  The Christians source for victory as well as the cure for personal defeat is Christ crucified. There is no power in the Law to help or forgive; it only shows us God’s holiness and our sinfulness.  It demands perfection and condemns our mistakes.  Obviously we don’t have it in us to earn righteousness, so God had to do something for us as we will see in the next few posts. (Pic credit Donell Trostrud)

Righteousness and Justification received by Faith

Rom 3:21-31 Use this link for the NIV or use your favorite version but highlight Vs 22 -24, 26, 28 and 30

As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…

Who are you Lord?

I AM the God who wants to GIVE you my righteousness.  I AM the Justifier – I make people righteous.  It cannot be EARNED by your attempts at obedience or good works.  I want to change your life from the inside out, not the outside in.  Once the inside is clean, the outside will take care of itself. I have declared you righteous because of the payment of my son for you.

I AM the just and impartial God who wants to save all men from their sin.  First I came to the Jews, but this message is for everyone.  Religion will not make you right in my eyes, only faith in what I have done for you matters.  I came to die for all humanity’s sin, take their punishment on myself and make them clean. All men may receive my salvation, but only those who receive it by faith will benefit from it.

I AM the God who has revealed my righteousness to you through my Word.  There is no other source of revelation that has the power to give eternal life.  There are many religious books with nice stories, platitudes, and sayings, but none of them have the power to give life and change hearts.  Only my Spirit has the power to use my word to do that.  You need to hear my Word and believe to be changed.  Because only my Word speaks of the cure to humanity’s lost state through the salvation which I offer.  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  It doesn’t matter that my word sounds arrogant in its claims of ultimate truth – that is the nature of ultimate truth, and I want to share it with you.  (Jn 17: 8 To the Father, Jesus said; “For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them”.  Vs 14 “I have given them your Word and the world has hated them…”  Vs 17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Jn 5:39 to the Jews he said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”)

I AM the God who requires faith.  “Where is boasting then?” For without faith you cannot please me.  Faith is not just positive thinking whereby if you think it is so, then it is.  Rather, you must use your mental capacity to take me at my word, you must agree with my word as to what is true for you, and then faith decides to appropriate, it is your absolute dependence upon my trustworthiness.  I have done all the work which you cannot do to please me so that all glory goes to me. All that is left is for you to rely on what I did for you as written in my Word and receive it as a gift with empty, needy, grateful hands.

Heaven is not a reward for our good deeds; it is a place where we worship God for his.

This is the difference between religion and Christianity.  Religion thinks that if they are good enough and do enough good works like trying to obey the 10 Commandments, then God judges on a curve and must reward them with heaven.  Consequently in this life they can never know when they have done enough to merit eternal life.  How sad.  Also when religious people think that they do have their act together, they tend to get proud of their accomplishments as if the praise and reward should go to them.  Then they condemn others for not living up to the standard which they are living.

On the other hand, we true believers in Christ realize that we are sinners deserving nothing but death and that there is nothing we can do to change the fact.  We believe that Christ saved us and lives in us; that God loves us and gives his mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  We believe his promises to us where he says that He is preparing a place for us and coming back to take us to live with him one day in heaven – not as a reward, but simply because since God lives in us now, then we will live with him where he is one day.  As you repent by Faith, that allows God to step in and save you from sin’s penalty – justification, then over sin’s power through sanctification, to glory, finally free from sin’s presence. Thus there is nothing we can be proud of – there is no boasting before him.  Heaven will be about our giving credit to where credit belongs.  We will spend eternity praising God for his generosity to us and for his grace.  Worthy is the Lamb which was slain.  All glory to the Lamb and to the Father.

What part does our obedience to the Law have then? 

The New Century version says vs 31 this way: ‎”So do we destroy the law by following the way of faith? No! Faith causes us to be what the law truly wants.” The Message puts it: “But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.”

The purpose of the Law is fulfilled or accomplished or completed in our life of faith because the law was put in effect to bring us to salvation in Christ not establish our own righteousness. Throughout the Old Testament right up to the death of Christ, the Law had the responsibility to show humanity their lost state before a righteous and holy God (1Timothy 11:9 tells us who the Law is for).  It was never a list of things to do to make men holy but rather like a mirror, to show men how unholy they actually were.  Like Paul said it was like a teacher to bring men to recognize their shortcomings and to come to the forgiveness that Christ offers.  The Jews had to come to the tent of meeting with a spotless lamb to atone for the sins they committed over the past year which they realized by the breaking of the commandments.  Christ was our perfect spotless substitute because he upheld the entire law and will of God by his life Jn 17:4.  Thus when He died and rose again, he put an end (Jn 19:30) to the obedience to the Law for righteousness by fulfilling all God’s righteousness on our behalf making us justified in his eyes as we believe (2 Cor 5:21).   Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  All praise to God.

More to come,

Steve

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About strostrud

Missionary with New Tribes Mission since 1989
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