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Reconciled to God

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand
What is this word justified?
Well it’s a solution word, and in order to understand it, we first need to understand the problem.
So what is our problem?
Our problem is that we are sinners, and because of that God’s righteousness is seen in his just wrath against us and our sin. That’s what Paul’s been saying in the first 3 chapters of this letter.
1:18; The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
God spelled out clearly what right and wrong was by revealing to us his character and giving us his commands. Because he gave us his laws, “every mouth is silenced and the whole world is held accountable to God.” (3:19)
Now at this point a bit of historical background to what was going on in the church will be helpful. The church in Rome was most likely planted shortly after Pentecost, when the apostles were baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire, and 3000 people believed in one hit. Among them would have been Jews that had come from Rome, and would have returned home after the Festival in Jerusalem, taking with them the gospel message and the power of the Holy Spirit.
However, the initially Jewish church had grown significantly and was a mix of Gentile and Jewish believers.
A Roman historian Suetonius writes that in AD 49 the Roman Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome for riots over a certain “Chrestus”. These were riots over the Christians proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ.
It wasn’t until 5 years later in AD54 that the edict was revoked and the Jews were able to return to the city. So the church went from being largely led by Jews to led by Gentiles, and upon their return, you can imagine the tensions that there may have been.
This is the context that Paul is writing in to. Pride, Resentment and disunity could endanger the unity and the witness of the church and the message of the gospel.
Even though they’d heard the gospel, old habits die hard, and the question of how we remain saved was a big issue.
Ok Jesus saved us, but we still need to perform works of the law to stay saved right?
Paul’s summary comes in 3:20 where he says,
3:20; Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
So here’s the issue.
God’s made us all.
Because of this we’re accountable to him.
He’s made it clear what he’ll hold us accountable to.
If we hold our lives up against his standard, we fail. Not just by a bit. But dismally.
Many people recognise this, as the Jews and Gentiles had in Rome, but their answer to the remedy was wrong.
Religion, including much of what comes under the banner of Christianity, teaches that God’s justice system works on a scale system.
Some things we do are bad, but some things we do are good. It’s a bit like a seesaw.
If at the end of the day, our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds, God will overlook what’s wrong and declare us worthy to enter his kingdom.
Bill medley in his little book Religion is for Fools points out how odd this thinking is as our justice system doesn’t even work like this.
Say I’m speeding down the Range on my way back to Nambour, which of course I never do ;) and a hidden cop catches me and pulls me over.
He comes up to my window and says, “Sir, did you know you were travelling 100 in an 80k zone?”
I respond with, “Yes, but all the way from Maleny I’ve been driving within the speed limit, and in fact I’m going to drive the rest of the way home even a little bit under the speed limit, I promise.”
The cops gonna say, “Ah, what does that have to do with it?”
“You don’t get positive demerit points for doing the right thing, you know the rules, that’s just expected. You only get demerit points taken away for doing the wrong thing.”
I had to be there watching anyone who tries to pull this one off with God. It’ll be embarrassing.
When God reveals all covetousness and pride that you held, your lack of respect for your parents, that hatred and unforgiveness you’ve held towards others, all the mis-truths and half-truths and full blown lies you’ve told, the adultery and sexual unfaithfulness of your heart, the failure to give your life to God as the one who has sustained you and given you everything every moment of every day all your life.
“Yeah but I told the truth most of the time, I was honest about most things on my tax return. I was faithful most of the time to my spouse. I did this, I did that.”
3:20; Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
The purpose of God’s law is not for you to look at it and see how God you are and pull your boot straps up and work to keep it.
The purpose of God’s law is to show you the true nature of your heart. The true depths of the sickness of sin, and just how deep it goes.
This is where Jesus comes in. Jesus lived the most beautiful life that has ever been lived. He lived life the way we as humans were meant to live. Full of joy, full of sacrificial love, in true freedom. The Sin Sickness tried to get into his system, but it never did. When you look at Jesus, you are looking at the true human being. Not deformed in any way by the sin sickness. The image of God. Not cracked or broken in any way.
When he looked at the law, it never condemned him. It only mirrored him.
And this is the gospel. One amongst us made it. One amongst us truly achieved what we all long for. One among us showed us that we don’t have to be controlled by sin, we don’t have to be ruled by darkness and the devil, and we don’t have to live in fear of death. One among us overcame all of these things. One among us who was not only human, but also divine.
If you’re like me, you can think of numerous times where you’ve just groaned because of your sin. Because of the pain it’s caused others. Because of the pain it’s caused you. Why do I do this? Why can’t I do that?
Well Jesus never groaned that way.
Is there any hope for us ever experiencing a life like his?
Is there any hope for us ever being free from the sin sickness?
For some, as I mentioned before, it’s the see-saw approach.
I can do better. I can stop doing this? I can do that! I can!
Again, if you’re like me, I tried this for a while, it’s not fun. When you’re going well and feeling good about yourself, it feels good, but when you fail again, it’s demoralising. Up and down. It actually feels like you’re on a seesaw.
If you’re on this seesaw at the moment, and you wish there was another way, the encouraging news is there is.
In 3:21 Paul says that there’s a righteousness that comes not from us, but from God, and that is available to us.
Remember Jesus. The freedom he had, the joy he had, the love he showed. This was because of his righteousness. He had no sin. No sin sickness. He was always healthy. Always righteous.
And his righteousness IS available to us.
21 But now APART FROM THE LAW the righteousness OF GOD has been MADE KNOWN,
A righteousness that doesn’t come from us! A righteousness...
to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 THIS righteousness is GIVEN...
Did you see that? It’s given. It’s not achieved by you working or trying your hardest. It’s given...
through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
So it’s given by God, and received by all those who put their faith in Christ’s righteousness, not their own righteousness.
There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
None of us reflect the glory of God, by imaging him properly. We’re all broken images. Broken humans. Under the rule and contamination of our sin sickness.
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Humans are given a righteousness freely, as a gift, through Jesus Christ.
How does God do this?
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.
God presented Christ, who willingly went to his death, in order not only to remove the record of our sin, but also to give us his righteousness.
He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
God is both the righteous judge and the one who gives righteousness. God is both the just judge of the wicked and the justifier of the wicked.
Now that Jesus has done this, the difference between those who will be condemned and those who won’t is Jesus.
Faith in Jesus.
Not in yourself.
Faith in Jesus.
Trust in Jesus.
Thanks for Jesus.
That’s my introduction. A bit length, but it gives us the background to where we’re at in .
Whenever you see a therefore, you know what was before it was important. That’s what the introduction was. Giving context for the therefore.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith...
Have you been justified? Because what we’re about to read is for those who have been justified. Do you trust in Jesus to save you or someone else? Or are you trying to do it yourself?
For those who are trusting in Jesus this morning, who have been justified through faith...
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This is courtroom language. You have peace with God and access into his presence because Jesus died on your behalf.
The way these verses are structured goes like this.
The logic goes in these 4 steps:
1. We have been justified.
2. This gives us peace/reconciliation with God, and access to God.
3. Assurance of salvation on judgement day and hope.
4. So we boast in God, in our hope and in our suffering that fans that hope into greater flame.
V1-2a & 9-10 mirror; justified while helpless sinners, so have peace/reconciliation with and access to God. No fear of condemnation/wrath.
When Steve Smith made that public confession, he was deemed guilty before the world. Just imagine Cricket Australia and the Australian public taking the shame for him, on his behalf, justifying him, and reconciling him permanently, giving him access to play for the rest of his life no matter what.
This is what God has done for you and I. We’ve shamed the name of God, for we bear his image. He made us to represent him on the earth, as captains over all creation. But we’ve abused him instead. Instead of doing what hte Austrlaian Cricket team and the Australian public have done, demand justice be done! He’s chosen mercy. He’s extended grace.
V6-8; this was achieved through Christ dying in our place, on our behalf.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Does Steve Smith have any ability to clear his name? Absolutely not. He is powerless. And you and I are too. But it was while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. That’s you and I. Not because we were good. The opposite. While we were still sinners, still under the condemnation of our past actions, just like Steve Smith is, Christ died for us...
More than that...v10 while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son.
V2b & 11 mirror; therefore we boast in God, in the hope that we have, and in the sufferings that help fan that hope into greater flame.
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
We boast in God, because through what he’s done, not only are we justified and reconciled, we will one day be like Christ. We will be truly human, bearing the image of God without the sin sickness, without the brokenness, but will be finally free like Christ is.
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