Focal Passage: Romans 3:21-28
As we saw in our last lesson, we have a problem we can’t solve. Because of sin, we stand condemned before the holy God. Thankfully, God intervened through His Son, Jesus Christ, and we are now forgiven through His sacrifice.
The Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
The word “justified” in Romans 3:24 is a legal term that means to declare someone to be innocent or render one to be righteous. The meaning of this word was made clearer to me a few years ago.
As a pastor, I travel to the hospitals fairly often. One day I was coming back from the hospital and running late to pick up my son at school.
I had reasoned that it was better to break the speed limit than have my son waiting all alone at school. At the point the blue lights came on I was significantly over the speed limit so I pulled over immediately to expedite the ticketing process.
When the officer came to my window I explained why I was speeding. I knew I was guilty and was prepared to receive the ticket.
He went back to his car and a few minutes later he came back with a huge surprise – a warning ticket! My heart jumped with joy as I knew he had every right to condemn me, but he chose to have mercy and declare me innocent (or at least not make me pay the penalty for breaking the law).
As I continued on my way to pick up my son, I thought about the similarities between the police officer and my relationship with God.
Every day it seems I am guilty of breaking God’s law. But, because of the finished work of Jesus I have been justified and declared innocent before God. I no longer have to pay the penalty for my sin, but instead, I am the excited recipient of His mercy and grace.