February 23, 2018

There Is No Hope in This World but Christ

Romans 3:13–23

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13   “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
  “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17   and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being1 will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Footnotes

[1] 3:20 Greek flesh

There Is No Hope in This World but Christ



Central Truth

Our lives don't have to be on the path to ruin and misery. We can accept grace by faith through Christ and be righteous before Him. 

Devotional | Romans 3:13–23

Paul is setting up a bleak situation for us in this section of Romans 3. The verses kick off with treacherous words, violent actions, and dangerous attitudes.

It would be easy to read this section about violent,...

Paul is setting up a bleak situation for us in this section of Romans 3. The verses kick off with treacherous words, violent actions, and dangerous attitudes.

It would be easy to read this section about violent, arrogant liars and think of other people. But we wouldn't be reading Paul's letter accurately. He’s making it clear that both the Jews (the religious) and the Gentiles (the unreligious) have sinned. Everyone from every background, which includes you and me, walks a miserable, sinful path.

It's a depressing section until we get to verse 21. 

Here, Paul launches into our hope and our redemption. Even though we are miserable wretches, we can still find righteousness through faith in Christ. The Old Testament pointed to Him; the Law showed our need for Him; the Prophets foretold of Him.  

All of the above—the lying, the misery, the ruin—do not have to be part of our story anymore. Sin no longer enslaves us because we are made righteous in Christ by faith. This is grace! We violent, arrogant liars are given a gift of redemption with no strings attached. 

My favorite example of this occurs in the novel Les Miserables. In one of the opening scenes, a criminal named Jean Valjean steals expensive silver from a bishop who has given him shelter for the night. When Valjean is caught and returned to the bishop, the bishop responds by giving more of his silver to Valjean and then setting him free. Valjean receives gifts he does not deserve, freedom, and money, which ultimately lead to his redemption. 

Like Valjean, we don’t have to work for grace. We don’t have to earn it. We don’t have to get to a certain point of acceptable goodness to experience it. Grace is given to those who believe. It's that simple.

When I die and finally face Christ, my only plea to get into heaven is the grace He has given me. He gives not because I’ve been to church my whole life or because I haven’t done this or that, but because I was walking in ruin, and He turned me around to Him.

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Bio | Mikaela Mathews

Good morning! I'm Mikaela Mathews, wife to my sweet husband, Derek, and dog mom to my two exuberant pups.

True story: My dogs were recently expelled from our usual boarding facility because they wouldn't stop jumping over four-foot walls and playfully roughing up the other dogs. If you and I had the time, I could entertain you for hours with stories of how terrible and hilarious my dogs are.

Derek and I hang out at the Plano campus and love the community of kind, intelligent, and intentional people we've found here!  

 

Discussion Questions

1. What does it mean to be saved by grace through faith in Christ? Why could we never earn our way into heaven?

2. How are people who do not know Christ but do good things different from the people Paul describes in verses 13-18?

3. What does Paul mean in verse 21 when he says, "the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law"?

4. Are there areas of your life in which you still act like you have to earn God’s approval? 

5. If you grew up in the church, are you relying on your religious records and forgetting the beauty of the grace God has given you? If you are not a believer, are you hiding in the shadows until you are “good enough”?

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