Saturday, September 8, 2012

Day 6: And now for the punchline...

Romans 3:9-27

What might make you uncomfortable:

Our guiltiness before God is an uncomfortable truth.

Today's Devotional:

In Western culture, a legal concept call the "presumption of innocence" guides our courts and criminal justice system. The burden of proof falls on the prosecuting attorney in a case, meaning the prosecutor must prove, with facts, if a defendant is guilty.

This legal principle relates also to today's cultural concept of "fairness." Most of us expect others to treat us fairly and to assume that we have good intentions. When someone accuses us of wrongdoing we can be easily offended, feeling attacked and assumed upon. We feel that we should be presumed innocent.

Some of our philosophical questions reflect this core western belief as well. The question "why do bad things happen to good people?" makes an assumption - that there are good people. We believe that some people must be inherently good, that they are innocent of wrong-doing and for the most part, generally pure.

It's only natural for us to expect God to treat us the same way. A common objection to Romans 1-3 could be that God "isn't fair." "How could the whole world be accountable to God?", we wonder. Is it truly fair that we are subject to divine judgment?

All these questions lead us up to the punchline of Romans 3 and the conclusion of this first section of Romans. What's the punchline? We are not innocent until proven guilty. We are guilty until made innocent.

Paul makes this point in a variety of ways, saying...
  • "No one is righteous, not even one"
  • "There is no fear of God"
  • "The whole world is accountable to God"
  • "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God"
This is the hard truth of the good news. We ask the question, "why do bad things happen to good people?," but, in light of God's holiness, there are no good people. We all stand guilty, falling short of the glory of God. Thankfully, the punchline doesn't end there! Romans 3:21 says this, "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify." This is the beginning of the good news! The righteousness of God has been revealed through Jesus. In Romans 3:21 the focus on the book of Romans shifts, from revealing sin to revealing God's righteousness. The good news is that God's justice has been satifised because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (3:25-26).
The blood of circumcision was not enough to purify us, but the blood of Jesus was. Boasting in our works does not save us, but boasting in Christ's work does. We cannot stand before righteously in judgment but Jesus could. This is the good news. Jesus is our sacrifice. He fulfilled the justice of God so that we could receive God's mercy.


The only proper response to today's devotional is to search our hearts and ask, "Have we truly received the mercy of Christ?" Spend time thanking God today for His atoning sacrifice.

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