Believe in Him who Justifies
Sunday, March 1, 2015
1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account."
9 Is this blessing then upon the circumcised, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say, "Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness." 10 How then was it reckoned? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be reckoned to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised. 13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15 for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. 16 For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18 In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your descendants be." 19 And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform. 22 Therefore also it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 23 Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. NASB
So what is Paul telling the Roman believers? Our justification comes, not from our guiltlessness, but from our faith in the only one who can justify us.
We seek justification for our rebellion against God. We blame it on our society, or our parents, or our genes, or any number of other things, but we are without excuse. When we try to stand before God and tell Him we are worthy of His love for any reason, we deceive ourselves. He loves us because He chooses to love us. When we seek to justify ourselves we have fallen into the pit that our first ancestors fell into. We are hiding from God. We are avoiding the truth. We are believing the lie.
It is as we put our trust in God's love, God's righteousness, God's mercy that we are freed from the falseness of who we are without Him. We are justified by grace through faith, it is a gift of God, not of works. We have nothing to boast about, nothing to glory in, but in God's love and mercy and grace.
Some parents want so much for their children to succeed they jump in and take over in their child's life. They do for them.
Other parents are so caught up in their own lives, they give no help to the child at all. The child is left on their own.
Then there is the parent who understands that they need to train, and lead, and give advice, and then back off and let the child struggle and learn and develop the skills needed to face life. They do not forsake the child, nor do they do for them what the child must learn to do.
So which kind of parent do you think God is?
Let's look at this from the child's point of view. Some children of the parent who takes over and does the project for the child, simply sit back and allow the parent to do for them. They are content to allow the parent to do for them. Others resist, and fight against it, wanting to do it on their own, refusing any help from the parent.
The child of the parent who has no input in the child's life, will either muddle through on their own, or give up and not learn.
The child of the parent who understands the need to help the child, but not do it for them, also has a choice of responses.
How do you see God? How do you think God should be involved in your life? What are you trusting God to be for you?
Do you see him as a distant God who doesn't care enough to help you at all?
Do you see Him as a God who should do everything for you?
Or do you see Him as a God who wants to be involved in every aspect of your life, while not taking away your freedom and your need to grow and make choices for yourself? Do you see Him as a loving parent who accepts His children unconditionally, and yet offers the help we need to live as we were intended to live?
In verse five Paul said:
5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,
Is your faith in yourself or in God? Is the God you are believing the real God or one you have concocted for yourself? If you are trusting the real God, He is Creator. Worship Him as creator. He is Love. Trust Him to love you. He is Lord. Trust Him to lead you to be part of all you think, say and do in life.
To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. This faith will lead you to obedience. Obedience without faith, works without faith, is just not good enough. We are called to live in relationship with the one who justifies the ungodly. We must stop trying to earn His love, and trust Him to love us. This trust is the foundation for walking in obedience. He will not love you on your terms. He calls you to surrender, to give up faith in yourself and to put your faith in Him.
In verse 16 and 17, Paul says:
16 For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 (as it is written, "A father of many nations have I made you") in the sight of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.
Do you see that the faith must be in the one who justifies the ungodly, the one who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist? Another way to say it is to say it does not matter so much what you believe, as it is who you believe.
In the illustration I used before about the parents, to react correctly to the parent, the child must have a correct view of the parent. In the case of our relationship with God, we can assume that God's attitude is correct, but we, as the child, must believe the truth about Him in order to respond correctly to Him. If we believe He does not care then we will not care. If we believe He is just interfering with our lives, then we will ignore Him.
But if we believe that He loves us and that He really does have our best interests at heart, we will have no trouble following His lead. Our trouble comes when we do not have a clear picture of who He is, or we do not trust Him to do as He says He will. Abraham's faith in God preceded circumcision and the law given on Mt. Sinai. Part of the covenant God made with Abraham was that He would be the father of many nations. If I understand Paul's argument here, he was saying that Abraham's descendants are not those who share his bloodline, but those who share his faith, his trust in God to keep His word, to love him and lead him. The children of Abraham are they who trust God, whether they are circumcised or not, whether they have the law or not.
In verses 23-25 Paul says:
23 Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
Our transgressions, our sin, delivered Jesus, our Lord up to death on the cross. But that was not the final word. God, the Lord of the Universe, the Creator of All Things, gave life to Jesus in the incarnation, in the miraculous virgin birth. He also gave Him life when He raised Him from the dead. Paul says he was raised because of our justification. I am certain I do not fully comprehend what that statement means. But, at the very least, it means that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God, is proof that God does love us and that He stands ready to reckon us as justified before Him if we simply trust Him.
Even as Abraham's faith was reckoned to him as righteousness, our faith in God through Jesus Christ, cancels our debt to God. We are accounted as being forgiven. Our debt is paid. We are free to serve Him because we love Him. We do not need to earn His love and forgiveness.
Could there be any greater news than this? God loves me. It is a good thing that He insists on being the Lord of my life. I no longer need to try to justify my actions. I am forgiven and free to love Him in return.
We love Him because He first loved us.
Is this a picture of the God you believe in?
Or do you still wonder who God is and what He expects of you?
God loves you. Will you trust His love? It really is a good thing to walk in obedience to the Creator who made us and who knows us and who loves us.
I challenge you to believe in Him who offers justification as a gift, instead of a false god who would have you believe that God does not have your best interests at heart.
Trust Him. Submit to Him. Accept the truth about yourself, and about Him. Live as if God really does love you. Believe in Him who justifes.