It was 11:45 PM a few nights ago, Mary had gone to sleep and I felt this strong compulsion to read the Bible. I read some from Psalms and Isaiah, but what really struck me was Romans. Chapters 2-3 just opened my eyes to understanding several things. It was amazing because through the Holy spirit I finally understood the purpose of the Law, or Old Testament, and how we fit into the law and God's righteousness. Most of all, I'm beginning to understand, in my heart and not just in my head, the true meaning of Jesus' salvation.
You are righteous when you obey God's laws, even if you know nothing about them. On the other hand, if you know the law and brag about your relationship with God and don't live the law, you will actually push people away from God. Romans 2:28 says "a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly." There are a lot of times when I fit into this category. I spend my time talking about my relationship with God, but not living it. When was the last time I helped out the poor? When was the last time I reached out to the broken through action rather than words? When was the last time I made a commitment to help those in need and saw it through?
So back to righteousness. God uses the law to show us how high His standards are, but the Jews missed the point and focused on the outward actions rather than the inward heart. So along comes Jesus to help clarify that what's on the inside is even more important than the outside. In Romans 3:11 Paul paraphrases Psalms 14:103 and says "there is no one righteous, not even one," which is that no matter what we do, we will fail to meet God's perfect standards. Under the law we would truly have to be zero-defects.
But here's the deal, the purpose of the law is to hold the entire world accountable to God, and none of us will be declared righteous by observing the law alone, because honestly, none of us are good enough. However, God uses the law to make us conscious of sin. In other words, the law is a barometer of sin.
So how can we be righteous in God's eyes? Through FAITH in Jesus Christ! Paul reminds us "all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God." I find this reassuring especially when Satan uses my guilt, about my addiction, to attack me and push me away from God and away from my family.
This next verse is so critical to this discussion. Romans 3:24-25 says "and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood."
Justification is when a judge declares a defendant not guilty. So picture that you're in a courtroom, because we're ALL going to be in front of a judge when we die. All your sins, each and everyone of them, are presented before God. The evidence is overwhelmingly against you. God asks is anyone will speak on your behalf. If nobody speaks, God will find you guilty and you will spend the rest of eternity shut off from God, in Hell, forever in torment.
Instead, Jesus rises and testifies for you because you accepted him into your life. He says that he already atoned, or sacrificed to take your place as guilty. Jesus' sacrifice of atonement purchased your freedom, which is the meaning of redemption (to purchase someone out of slavery and give them their freedom). After hearing Jesus speak, God turns to you and pronounces you "Not Guilty" and you enter that gates of heaven, because you put your faith in Jesus.
Here's the best part, if you've accepted Jesus as your Savior in your heart, this day has already occurred. So you're free to go and sin no more. You're free to spread the Good News that this salvation and freedom are available to anyone. You're free to bring heaven to earth through your actions. Now go forth and sin no more.
The ground is level at the foot of the cross....recovering addict rescued by the saving grace of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!