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Equal: Romans 3.21-25

God is ready to clean each of us up, restore us and make us righteous.  Romans 3 shows us how we get there, how to be restored and made right with God. 

The Bible reveals God’s vision for our lives.

                        21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul reveals how we can be made right.  We want to know how we can be made right and restored.  The word, “manifested” means revealed.  In verse 21 the righteousness of God is revealed to us.  The foundation is the law and the prophets in the Old Testament.  This points forward to how we can be restored and understand what’s gone wrong in our life.  A section on the Old Testament, the Law is not a positive term for us.  It speaks of how we can be restored.   All of us are legalistic in some sense.  We think that by doing right things we will fix what’s wrong with us.  We have a deep sense inside that something isn’t right  We have a desire to live a better life.  We try to improve ourselves and fix what’s broken within us.  We wake up and said, “I’m going to solve this today within me.”  We underestimate what’s broken within us.  We think we can overcome sin.  We cannot conquer what’s broken within us.

This past week we saw kids building sandcastles at the beach.  They were digging and piling up sand.  They’ve realized they can really create something.  Elaborate sand castles can take an entire day.  This is bringing order out of chaos.  But soon the tide will come and wash it all away.  I think I can fix this?

We all lose our way.

                        23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

This is a very familiar verse.  In the first part we are all equal.  We have all sinned and fallen short.  We have missed the mark.  There are two ways to understand this.  The first is aiming for a target.  When we aim for a bullseye sometimes we hit it but more often we miss the mark.  Sometimes our efforts come up short.  Sometimes we aren’t even trying to aim.  Many are following the ways of the Old Testament.  There are a number of people who are good people, but they come up short.  The result is the same.  We miss the mark. 

The second way to understand this is missing our destination, not ending up where we intended.  We lost our way.  Since we chose our own way we fall short.  This means we are not who we are supposed to be.  We don’t have the full glory.  There’s a desire for greatness to reflect God’s glory.  We want to good home, a good family.  We fall short.  None of us fully live up to what God has created us to be.  Why?  Our sin.  God designed you for greatness!

Isaiah 3 is full of God’s intention for our lives and hearts.  When you walk through deep waters, God is with you.  When God made you, He made you for greatness.  In every person God created we can see glimpses of of glory.  Some people’s creativity is amazing.  We are made in the image of God, every person.

We can see glimpses of God’s glory in all people and that is amazing.  For example, “LSU freshman Sha'Carri Richardson broke the women's 100-meter collegiate record at the Division I NCAA Outdoor Championships on Saturday. Richardson finished the race at a record-breaking time of 10.75 seconds and didn't even have to cross the finish line to know she won. She raised her arms in celebration while she was still running and finished nearly five meters ahead of the rest of the field.  The feat makes Richardson the first U20 woman in world history to run a sub 11 seconds in the 100 meters and sub 23.4 seconds in the 200 meters in one day.”  Visit this link to view the whole story:

We all need grace.

We are not able to fix what’s wrong within us.  The good news is God has already restored us.  The price has already been fully paid.

                        24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 

“Justified” means counted as right.  God, in a judicial act considered us forgiven, restored and made right.  How God counts us is what we are!  It’s something God gives to us.  It’s not a cheap gift.  It’s the only way to be restored.  It’s like a child who worked really hard to buy something.  The child gets the item and goes to the checkout; there’s not enough money.  The cashier tells the child they don’t have enough.  The child might have worked really hard but it’s still not enough.  This is all of us.  We all come up short.  Warren Buffet is the wealthiest man alive but even he will come up short.

Redemption means the price is paid for us.  God has redeemed us fully.  There’s nothing within us that can pay for this.  We all need this grace.  Jesus takes our sin and our shame.  We can be forgiven and cleansed.

We can follow God because Jesus took our sin and shame.

                        25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

This verse describes how God does this.  Jesus is the one who brings forgiveness.  Propitiation means removal of God’s wrath.  We don’t like to think about God’s wrath in relationship to our sin.  God is eternally opposed to sin.  There’s never going to be a time when God is ok with sin.  We are thankful God is holy.  We long for this.  God is passionately and relentlessly pursuing you and I in love.  How do we reconcile all of that?  In the cross of Jesus Christ.  We all have wrath too but we think God shouldn’t get upset about anything.  For example, when a mother tells her child not to open a bag of chips and the child opens it.  The mother is furious at the disobedience of the child.  God too gets upset at you and I destroying our souls and one another with sin.  In the cross the wrath of God is absorbed by Jesus.  We can be restored and made right.  If God isn’t upset by sin God is not righteous.  God doesn’t lower the standard but raises us up to Him.  When we are a new creation we are a people who can reflect God’s glory.  There’s coming a day when believers will be fully restored.  We will no longer damage ourselves or others.  We will shine like we are made to shine.  We are already able to reflect some of God’s glory.  There’s a power in what Jesus has done.  Come before the cross of Jesus.  We are all equally able to receive.

*Sermon notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.


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