In order to be fully righteous and guilt free we need to be justified and have our sinful nature eradicated. The law tells us exactly what we must do in order to please God and be holy.
But keeping the law isn’t all that easy. I’ve heard John Crowder say it like this, “if you’re going to clean yourself up, you’re going to have to mutilate yourself.” God’s law requires you to chop off body parts that cause you to sin, pluck out your eyes, and punish yourself.
Self-help religious practice will never get you to your goal though. There’s nothing you can do to clean yourself up enough. You’re guilty.
Or at least you were.
Romans 3:23 tells us something we know: all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. What’s unfortunate is that so many stop here. They wear vs. 23 as their identity. But our identity is in vs. 24.
We “are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (ESV).”
We are justified through Jesus.
It’s interesting to note that the word gift used here means something far greater than how we use it in English. In Greek the word that is used is dorean and it means more than just a birthday present. Dorean is without payment; or for no reason.
This verse could easily be read this way: We are justified by his grace for no reason through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
We’ve done nothing to deserve a gift of this magnitude. At least with a birthday you were born…there’s a reason for a gift. When it comes to the business of salvation, the gift is free for you. You didn’t pay for it in any possible way. It was given to you for no reason at all.
C.S. Lovett offers commentary on the gift in his book Lovett’s Lights. He writes, “The gift of God is not a DECREE of righteousness. The real gift is JESUS. When a person receives Christ, he gets a package deal. In that package is a death of the believer did not die. It is someone else’s death, though ow it becomes his. Also in the package is a righteous life he did not live. It too was lived for him. Because of the living union between the believer and Christ, the Christian shares in all that Jesus has DONE and IS (77).”
You’ve been declared NOT GUILTY because you share in all that Jesus has done and all that Jesus is.
“When Christ offered himself on the cross, God was declaring that our failures and futile efforts to fulfill our lives are completely forgiven through his patience and love (Rom 3:25 BCJ).”
You don’t have to live another sinful day of your life. It’s a demonic lie that says you have to struggle with sin because you live in an adamic body. Can a Christian Sin? Of course a Christian can sin. But he doesn’t have to!
Everything evil that was done in the past is completely gone for the believer. We were “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…(Rom 3:24-25 NKJV).”
I really like this word that Paul uses when he says “God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…” because, again, the Greek says it so much better for clarity-sake. The word for passed over is paresis – it means overlooking or absence of punishment. But it doesn’t JUST mean the absence of punishment. The word goes further meaning the removal of guilt.
Let’s read those verses anew: in His forbearance God removed our guilt over the sins that were previously committed.
You don’t have to live guilty anymore. Whoever you took advantage of, whatever horrible thing you did, is all gone through Christ.
Lovett writes it another way. He explains that redemption means “the release of prisoners of war or deliverance from a state of danger or misery by the payment of a ransom (77).” Our ransom is Jesus.
We are delivered (past tense) from the GUILT of sin. We are delivered from the POWER of sin, if we want to be. And in the very end, we will be delivered from the PRESENCE of sin (Lovett 77).
You don’t have to sin if you don’t want to. That’s grace. You get a choice in the matter. You’re good! You get to act like it.