Green Valley Sermons

Justified as a Gift

Sunday, February 8, 2015          

Rom 3:1-12


1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

"That Thou mightest be justified in Thy words,

And mightest prevail when Thou art judged." (Psalm 51:4)

5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) 6 May it never be! For otherwise how will God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie the truth of God abounded to His glory, why am I also still being judged as a sinner? 8 And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some affirm that we say), "Let us do evil that good may come"? Their condemnation is just.

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,

"There is none righteous, not even one;

11 There is none who understands,

There is none who seeks for God;

12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;

There is none who does good,

There is not even one." (Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3)

13 "Their throat is an open grave,

With their tongues they keep deceiving," (Psalm 5:9)

"The poison of asps is under their lips"; (Psalm 140:3)

14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; (Psalm 10:7)

15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood,

16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,

17 And the path of peace have they not known." (Psalm 59:7-9)

18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Psalm 36:1)

19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

NASB

Paul quotes from several Old Testament passages in this scripture. The first one in verse 4 is from Psalm 51 verse 4. This is David's confession of his sinfulness after his affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband. Paul's point was that God is justified in condemning us for our sin. We cannot justify ourselves.

Of course that does not stop us from trying. We are very good at finding loopholes in the law that, seemingly give us permission to do what we do. We tell ourselves that we are justified in thinking and feeling the way we feel. It is always someone else's fault, or we claim we were born that way and cannot change. My problem with anger is not my fault. I was born this way.

When we feel guilty for, well, whatever we feel guilty for, we attempt to exonerate ourselves and make excuses for our own behavior, but we tend not to be so generous with others. We see the sin in someone else but have trouble seeing the log in our own eye. Jesus said we need to get the splinter out of our eye before we attempt to help someone else get the log out of theirs. Or was that the other way around. I guess it depends on your point of view.

Paul's point is, we are all guilty before God. All we like sheep have gone astray. None of us can claim to be perfect, to be righteous on our own. And we were not made to be. We are incapable of being what we were meant to be on our own because we were not ever meant to be on our own.

When we sin, the first thing we do is make excuses for ourselves. We try to convince ourselves that our sin is not as bad as someone else's. Like Adam and Eve we try to hide and cover up.

If we were to be justified in our actions, thoughts and behavior, we would need to be perfect but apart from God we are just not perfect.

God's answer is to call us to confess our sin and accept His forgiveness and grace. We must first agree that we have messed things up because we were trying to live without Him. We were doing our own thing. We were, like sheep, going our own way. It is in the nature of sheep to stray. Natural man, man without God's influence also naturally strays from God's purpose and plan. When we leave God out we will naturally fail.

Justification cannot come from us. We cannot earn it. We will never deserve it. But God offers it as a gift.

Listen to Paul's description of us once again. He took this description from the Old Testament. This is not something dreamed up by Paul. This is not a new revelation that distinguishes the New Testament from the Old.

10 as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one." (These words are from Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3)

13 "Their throat is an open grave,

With their tongues they keep deceiving," (Psalm 5:9)

"The poison of asps is under their lips"; (Psalm 140:3)

14 "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness"; (Psalm 10:7)

15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood,

16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,

17 And the path of peace have they not known." (Psalm 59:7-9)

18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Psalm 36:1)

This is God's description of mankind. This is God's description of us when we leave God out of our lives. This is what we do when we are not honest with God and seek to justify ourselves.

Paul is saying God is justified in judging us in this way. This is who we are, or at least who we were before we put our faith in Him; Before we accepted as true that God loves us and at the same time He has the right, the authority, and the ability to judge us. We deserve no less than the condemnation of God. It is what we earned, what we deserve.

We will not prevail if we go before Almighty God and pretend to be something we are not. God came to Adam and Eve and asked them to confess what they had done. They played pass the buck. This is the picture of us when we are trying to earn God's love, instead of accepting that it is a free gift and trusting Him to love us and to lead us.

Is this a reason to continue in sin? No! A thousand times no! This is the reason to fall on our knees before God and accept His love so that we can love Him freely. We can only obey Him out of love, when we know we are loved and we know we no longer need to try to be good enough on our own.

Paul stated empahtically that he was not saying it is okay to go on sinning, as some accused him of saying. But the answer is not to try harder not to sin, but to turn to God and allow Him to assist you to walk with Him as Lord and as Lover of your soul.

Justified as a gift. Saved by grace through faith. As Paul put it here in this passage in verse 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;”

When we speak of God loving us in this way, we are not talking about warm fuzzy feelings. We throw the word love around and act as if we know what love is.

When we say God loves us, we are saying that God has made a decision to do what is best for us. He decided that we need Him and so He offers Himself to us, to be with us. He decided that we need to be forgiven, so He has decided that He will faithfully forgive us when we admit our sin, when we admit we acted without His leadership and guidance.

He knew we needed a demonstration of His love to convince us it is true, so He decided to become a man, that is, to send His Only Begotten Son, who is fully God and fully Man to meet our need.

When we speak of loving God, we must understand this definition of love. This love is a decision to do what is right even when it is difficult; to do the loving thing when the person we are loving does not deserve to be loved.

Our society has made love something of feeling that we have no control over. When they say, “I do not love you any more.” They usually mean they do not feel a certain way about them any longer and think that is an excuse to give up on them and cast them aside. We call it divorce, or breaking up, or moving on, or following our heart.

When God calls us to love Him and to love one another. He is calling us to decide to do what is best for the one loved. When we love God we are to worship and praise Him. We are to serve Him as our King, as our Master, as our Lord. We are to trust Him to love us. We are to decide to put our faith in Him.

When we are instructed by our Lord to love others, we are being called to pray for them, to bless them, to do what is good for them. This is the love we are to demonstrate to the world. It will lead to feelings of compassion and other feelings, but it starts with a decision to live a certain way. It does not begin with following a feeling.

God loves us. He is our Lord. Loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength is no easy task. We need His help to accomplish this task. We dare not try to do it on our own, or we are doomed to fail.

Accepting that our Justification is a gift from God is a first step in our walk with Him. Have you made that first step? Seeing the truth about ourselves and agreeing with God about His judgment of us, we then bow before Him and trust Him to love us and forgive us. Then we can arise, walking with Him and loving Him in return.