Romans, Passionate Christian Theology
The teenager had been caught “at it again” doing what he knew he was not supposed to do. “I can’t be good enough!”, he shouted. I said, “You are absolutely right!” “None of us can be good enough!” That’s why we need a Savior! Just deciding, on our own, to be good “from now on”, is something we are just not capable of doing. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!”, Paul declares.
Think about it…We can be singing along with Christian radio while driving in our cars, be suddenly cut off in traffic and our immediate reaction is, “You moron!”…not “Well, bless your heart, you almost caused us all to be killed in an accident, but bless your heart.” Yes, we are all in need of Savior, aren’t we? That’s probably why the hymn, “I Need You Ever Hour” was written.
We are in extreme need of our Savior who extends grace, forgives us when we mess up and sets us right before God. Only Jesus saves. Not us. We are not good enough. But we can BE better by the power of His Holy Spirit living in us, as we face the consequences of our messy lives, apologize to those we offend, extend love and grace to others who offend us and move on in peace, learning from our mistakes of “falling short”, “becoming more and more like Jesus taught us to live. Yes! We are all sinners who are set free because of God’s sheer generosity by giving us Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, our Savior, Who set things right.
Paul explains it to the “insiders and outsiders” in the most excellent, passionate way…
Romans 3, The Message
We’re All in the Same Sinking Boat
9-20 So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:
There’s nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They’ve all taken the wrong turn;
they’ve all wandered down blind alleys.
No one’s living right;
I can’t find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves,
their tongues slick as mudslides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year,
litter the land with heartbreak and ruin,
Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else? Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
God Has Set Things Right
21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
25-26 God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
27-28 So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
What do we learn?
–“God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out.”
–“Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.”
Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us and lead us not into temptations to sin again but deliver us from all evil…from ourselves and our selfishness. May we keep in step with you. Set the pace for this day. Lead us all as we keep our focus on You!
In Jesus Name, Amen