This week’s devotions are based on the Week 8 “Explore God” – What is a Lutheran? (WATCH HERE)
Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Years ago I was asked to do a word study on the Hebrew word that is translated, “righteous” and the word that is translated “justice.” The discovery of this study led me to appreciate both terms more and their impact on our relationship with God. “Righteous” or “Righteousness” is the “right adherence to the law” and “justice” is the “right application of the law.” Why is that significant?
God demands perfect righteousness to earn eternal life. This means that every law the Lord has given must always be adhered to. There are no exceptions or excuses. The essence of God’s justice is that he has every obligation to rightly apply the law and its consequences if the law is broken. Thus the conclusion of every individual is a) “I’m not righteous” and as a result b) I fall under God’s judgment. This is not just a logical or linguistic conclusion, it is biblical truth. The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…”
Most, if not all flavors of religion, try to bridge this gap. The imperfect individual spends time energy and effort to achieve the glory of God. The Muslim performs the Five Pillars. The Buddhist engages in right meditation and material escape. The Hindu lives to align with the many gods they profess. But it is not just world religions. Martin Luther spent the early part of his life under the umbrella of the Catholic Church trying to do enough to achieve the glory of God. He performed penance. He entered the monastery. He went on pilgrimages. All to no avail as his conscience found no rest.
He and we must conclude: I cannot achieve righteousness on my own.
So then who can be saved?
The disciples themselves asked Jesus this and Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
As Luther was able to have access to the Bible, he discovered how one was able to have the righteousness that God demanded, “The righteous will live by his faith.”
The Apostle Paul expands around the verse shared earlier in Romans 3:21-26
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. 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.
The amazing truth of the Bible’s teaching is that righteousness is not earned, it is given through faith in Jesus Christ, the one who was righteous for us…as well as the one that God carried out his justice on by punishing Jesus for our sins.
The result for us? We are righteous before God because we have been given the righteousness of Christ.
How? By faith alone…not personal effort or performance…simply as a gift of faith (which is also a gift!).
Apply: What happens spiritually for you when you give up trying to earn perfection and simply receive Christ’s perfection by faith?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for doing what we never could and giving us the perfection, the righteousness you demanded through the perfect life and innocent death of Jesus FOR us! AMEN.