Monday, February 27, 2012

If it's too good to be true...

Finish the sentence...then it's too good to be true! This is how I feel after reading Romans 8: 1-4. 

When God looks at us in Christ we stand completely innocent, free of guilt, free from wrath. We are no longer condemned criminals on death row. We are free. 

How was this accomplished?

Weakness of the Law
For centuries, the law commanded and the law condemned law-breakers and the law pointed to a Righteousness and a Sacrifice that would someday come (Romans 3:21), but the law could not remove condemnation from sinners.

If there was to come a time when sinners could experience "no condemnation!" – when the ungodly could be justified by faith – then God would have to do something besides give a law. And what he did was send his Son in human nature, as our representative and substitute and there on the cross in the suffering of his Son, God condemned sin!

Jesus paid it all
Whose sin? Jesus had none (see "likeness of sinful flesh," v. 3). Not his. Ours. This is the Gospel. This is Christianity. All of us were under God's condemnation because of our sin.

But, as Romans 5:6 says, "While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." What does that mean – he died for the ungodly? Now we see what it means in Romans 8:3. It means that God poured out on his Son the condemnation that we deserved. He condemned sin (my sin!) in the flesh (Christ's flesh!). Do you believe this?!

Not everyone can say, "There is now no condemnation over my life." Only those "who are in Christ Jesus." Some are in him and some are not. Paul assumes this everywhere in his writings. There are those "in Christ" and there are those "outside." Paul is not a universalist.

He says explicitly in Romans 9:3, with grief, that there are those who are "accursed, separated from Christ." The opposite of the precious phrase "in Christ" (en kristõ) is the terrible phrase "[separated] from Christ" Where are you? In Christ? Or separated from Christ?

Gospel in a few words
I pray that all who read these words would receive Christ. It does seem too good to be true, but it’s true: Our sin separated us from God; nothing we do could remove us from under the wrath of God; God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and he condemned sin in his flesh through death on a cross. Everyone who trusts Christ’s work and reject their work will find forgiveness and deliverance from death. This is the good news of the gospel.