SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- In this chapter Paul first addresses some questions he's been receiving. The questions basically boil down to, "How can I get away with sinning?" Paul emphatically explains that there is no justification for sin.
- Paul then (in verse 11-18) lists six Old Testament quotes that all express the sinfulness of humanity. He then explains that the laws of the Old Testament were not meant to make us right with God. Instead they were meant to open our eyes to how sinful we are, and how desperately we need God to rescue us.
- In verse 23 we learn the state of mankind, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" but in this section we also learn of God's offer to mankind - that we can be made right with God (righteous) not through our own following of the rules or good works, but through putting our faith in Jesus.
- Verse 26 says God had to be "just" and the one who "justifies." God is just, which means sins must be punished. Judges cannot just wink at crimes. But God loves us, and does not want to punish us. So Jesus chose to go to the cross as a "sacrifice of atonement" (verse 25), which means to take our sin on himself. Thus God can justify us; to be justified means it's just-as-if-I'd never sinned.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Many believe they will go to Heaven because they are "good people." They feel like they're less sinful than others, so they'll get in. But everyone has sinned, and even one sin would keep a person out of Heaven. The reality is, we're all way more sinful than we realize or want to admit. We will not be made right with God or get into Heaven based on our good works. It is only through putting our faith in Jesus and accepting what he did on the cross to take away our sins.
- Once we say yes to God's love offer of taking away our sins through the death of Jesus, one of our goals should be to not sin anymore. Not because we need to "follow the rules" but because we love God and are grateful to Jesus, and don't want to add to the burden of sin we personally put on him on the cross.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Will you get into Heaven when you die? And if so, why? Do you understand that you are not good enough, even if you are better than most? It is only through faith in Jesus and his sacrifice that you can have a relationship with God and go to Heaven. So have you truly put your faith in Jesus? If not, what's stopping you? If so, when did you do that? And is there evidence of that in your life?