You never have to feel guilt or shame again. Ever. Guilt and shame are not your portion.
Romans 3:19-29 makes it clear. Man tried to earn salvation through obeying the law and failed. The only remedy was for God to give a free gift — Jesus Christ, our salvation, would take away the sins of the world and justify us.
Today we are going to dive only into the first couple verses in the portion I mentioned above.
“Now we all know that everything the Law says applies to those who are under the Law. Who, then, can offer an excuse for his sin? The Jew?…The Gentiles? No. Every mouth is closed. The entire human race stands guilty before God (Lovett’s Lights).”
But you thought we weren’t guilty. Right?
We’re getting there.
Under the law we are all guilty. The law, according to Romans 3, shows us clearly that we are sinners and guilty. “No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them…(Rom 3:20, Living Bible).”
There are many in the church today who are striving to show God just how much they are willing to love and obey him. So many offer their lives as sacrifice, their time to service, all their free time to clocking in their hours of prayer and study each day in an effort to prove something to God and earn their keep…and usually to prove something to all those who are watching too.
C.S. Lovett paraphrases verse 20 this way: There is no way, you see, for anyone to make himself righteous by doing what the Law asks. The Law is merely a straightedge to show people how crooked and corrupt they are in God’s sight.
The law was simply God’s way of showing people that they needed something (someone) a whole lot bigger and wiser and kinder than themselves in order to attain salvation for themselves. In fact, what God was doing with the law was to simply say that mankind cannot possibly act right enough to attain anything, not even a jot or tittle of salvation.
Lovett, in his commentary on verse 20 goes on to say, “…there is no way for a person to become righteous by keeping the Law…the Law can save no one–it was not given for that purpose. It was not designed to save people or deliver them from the power of sin. Its job is to show men and women how sinful they are, and that’s all (74-75).”
Law is simply a mirror in which mankind can look at itself and realize that they got it all wrong! Have you ever checked yourself out in the mirror thinking you probably looked decent enough to run out and go to the grocery store only to realize you looked like a hungover ogre?
You had some work to do. You had to run a comb through your hair; brush your teeth; wash up a bit until your face had a bit of shine to it. Perhaps you changed from the ratty sweatpants you were wearing and put on a nice pair of khaki chinos and a grey button down. Then you blew your nose and headed out the door.
Law vs. Grace
And grace wins!
This is the difference between law and grace. The law has you clean yourself up, obey it, and look nice and clean to prove something to God and everybody that you’ve got it together.
Grace is totally different. And it’s a whole lot easier.
The Mirror Bible helps us understand. “…the gospel unveils what God did right not what we did wrong!…Jesus is what God believes about you! In him the righteousness of God is on display in such a way that everyone may be equally persuaded about what God believes about them, regardless of who they are; there is no distinction (Rom 3:21-22).”
The Living Bible says it this way: …God has shown us a different way to heaven — not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way…Now God says he will accept and acquit us–declare us “not guilty”–if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins.
The plan all along from the genesis of creation was for mankind to be united to God. Jesus could be the only answer. God didn’t make some cosmic mistake, like some mad scientist, when he created humanity. He wasn’t offended at our lack of ability to keep the rules. God knew it was impossible from the beginning.
Where so many of us have gone astray in this whole thing is thinking that we needed to actually keep the law in order to stay in God’s good kindness.
But the whole time all we had to do was let Jesus do it for us! Where we can’t keep the law, Jesus can. This is grace.
Jesus steps in and does all the work for us. Think back to my story about looking at yourself in the mirror. The reality is that you look at yourself in the mirror (the law) and realize that you’re sunk. You’re too far gone to clean yourself up with some self-help religiosity. Instead of you picking up that comb and toothbrush, Jesus does it for you. He gives you a complete upgrade! He shines you up and makes you not only look new, but makes you a whole new person!
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4 ESV).”
You died with Christ and he raised you with himself as a whole new creation!
You need to be guilty no more. You need to stop feeling like you need to make retribution for your sins. Retribution has a name…Jesus. Jesus made retribution for you.
We’ll continue this next week.