Romans 9:30-33 (CSB) What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written,
Look, I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over
and a rock to trip over,
and the one who believes on him
will not be put to shame.
Romans 1:16-17 (CSB) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
Romans 4:3-5 (CSB) For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness. Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness.
1 Corinthians 1:20 (CSB) Where is the one who is wise? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish?
The rest of the world and all of her religions, especially some who claim Christ as Lord, fall into the same trap as the Pharisees during the days of the ministry of Christ. The trap is this: “Tell your people to work harder for the love of God so this will keep them close to God.”
Isn’t that the world? Work harder not smarter? If you work hard, you will get what you deserve.
Let me make an obvious point: the religion of the Pharisees are no more. Only the gospel of Christ has endured.
Where do you see God in the text? What does the text say about God?
What has God been saying throughout his word?
1 Corinthians 1:21 (CSB) For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached.
Nowhere in the Bible does God mentions ever, “Work hard and you will earn your way in heaven.” Some Catholics preach this. Most Mormons live this. The world definitely preaches this.
Remember what God says about our own works?
Isaiah 64:6 (CSB) All of us have become like something unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment;
all of us wither like a leaf,
and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.
What is the relief? How can we be made righteous before God?
1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (CSB) For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Christ crucified. All of our sins and trespasses and wickedness and treason is placed wholly upon Christ as the innocent lamb. And he was killed and sacrificed for our sake so that we are righteous in his sight.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (CSB) He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Right now, go to the cross. Remember your sins and trespasses and wickedness and treason–all that shame and guilt and condemnation–and run to the cross. You say, “What, should I go to Golgatha? The cross is not there.” No! That is the point. Jesus died then was raised. When he was raised to life by the Holy Spirit, your sins stayed buried or as God puts it:
Psalms 103:11-13 (CSB)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his faithful love
toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed
our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
In this moment, do you fear the world and religion and the devil who lies to you over and over again saying that you have not done enough. Or do you fear the God in His holiness who says, “Cast your burdens, your shame, your iniquities upon me and I will give you rest.”
Choose this day whom you will serve.
We don’t quite get this.
In part, we may acknowledge with our head nods and our Amen. But to some of us, this sounds way too good to be true. It sounds too easy. It sounds easy because we live in a broken, jacked-up world because our sin and the sins of people before us.
But in the beginning, you told us it was going to be jacked up. But you, and you alone, were going to make it alright. And you did so by sending your Son to crush the head of the Devil and conquering our sin, demons, hell, and death forever. Literally, putting them to open shame.
Give us your gospel and place it in our hearts so every morning we will wake up and know you are God and you are good and your mercies never come to an end.
Lamentations 3:22-24 (CSB)
Because of the LORD’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!
I say, “The LORD is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in him.”