Seeking Jesus First - Aug. 21, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - Aug. 21, 2023
Photo by Miriam G / Unsplash

After the greeting in Romans, Apostle Paul declares his purpose for writing the letter. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16–17, NKJV)

Paul says the wrath of God would come upon those who practice unrighteousness. He even lists the things that God’s wrath would judge. Paul then states that only those who do the things written in the law were justified, whether they have heard the law or not. After reading the first three chapters, this statement can only be true, if a person, from a pure heart, naturally does what is in the law. So, only a person without sin would be justified by the law.

Paul says that Jews have an advantage because they have a history with God through the law, but he ultimately concludes, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.” (Romans 3:9, NKJV)

The Law exposed sin in the flesh so that all would know that they had sin. “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19–20, NKJV)

Paul is using the law to show that all are under sin and that only by doing by one’s own nature, what is in the law, without being commanded to do it, could a person be justified under the law. Having to be told what was bad, and then, having to be told not to do it, is itself proof that all were under sin.

Another way to say it is this, everyone did what was right in his own eyes based upon his own form of justice and his own set of justifications that had to do with his own desires. It was only through the pronouncement of the law that men were able to see that their own desires were selfish in nature and that hurting others and not walking in the love of God was bad.

When Jesus told the pharisees that all of the law would be fulfilled by keeping this one statement, “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”, He was affirming that the law was established to show people that sin was the absence of love and the presence of selfishness.

The law justified no one because no one was without sin… until Jesus Christ. The law justified Jesus Christ because He was without sin. This allowed the law to approve of Him being the atoning sacrifice for sin.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:21–28, NKJV)

After teaching us why the law was not enough to deliver us from sin, Paul restates his premise as a conclusion, “we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus.”

The law is still the foundation on which righteousness by faith was built. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all could be equally granted clemency. If God offered it to one, He offers it to all equally. Every time someone acknowledges his sin and puts his faith in Christ Jesus for the remission of his sins, he establishes (or, affirms the foundation of) the law.

Without the law covenant, there could be no legal sacrifice for sin. Because of the law, Jesus was justified and then accepted as a legitimate sacrifice for sin.

The law covenant fulfilled its purpose as a foundation for faith in Christ Jesus, our savior and deliverer. The foundation is complete with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. We are being built on the foundation through faith in Him. We even have a new and living commandment; “Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ and Love one another as Christ Jesus has loved you.”

Our focus is not keeping the law covenant. Our focus is being loved by God and loving Him by loving others. And we are now made capable of doing this because we have received the Holy Spirit of promise.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV)

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1, NKJV)

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4, NKJV)

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:5, NKJV)