Bethany Lutheran Church, Bigfork, MT


July-August 2018

By Pastor Christopher Miller

Dear Friends in Christ,

Before reading this, please read Romans 3:21-31.

Last month, we got through Paul's strong, undeniable declaration that there is no one who can make themselves right by works of the Law. There is nothing that the Law provides that will not accuse you and condemn you. So, we need something outside of the Law, or more accurately, someone outside the Law. Not "above the Law", but someone wholly separate from the entire legal system. This is hard for us to understand, because everything we do is steeped in the legal system. Concepts of justice, fairness, right and wrong, are all based in what is legal and what is not. In that system, sin is either a debt that must be paid back or a crime to be punished. Christ turns that whole system on its head.

Paul declares that in this very passage. He clearly says in verse 25 that God had "left the sins committed beforehand unpunished." The legal mind says, "That's not fair! They're going to keep doing it!" Well, we're sinners, so we're going to keep messing up anyway. (Note: that's not an excuse to keep messing up, as we'll see as we get deeper in this series.) The grace of God comes outside of that legal system, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, taking ownership of your sins upon his own shoulders, and granting you the gift of being made right.

Verse 26 describes this as God justifying us who have faith in Christ. But there's one more interesting phrase here: God demonstrates his righteousness in this "so as to be just". God is showing himself to be just by making us just. The legal system makes us believe that God does not show us justice in our lives and in our work, because we are working from the legal system's definition of justice, and our sinful notions of justice. But for God, being just means being merciful. It means erasing all ledgers and declaring that the one who believes in his Son is right, and true, and receives eternal life, all because of the work of Christ.

And that one is you.

In Christ's Hope,                  Pastor Christopher Miller


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