SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins this chapter by addressing some questions he had been receiving. The issue basically boils down to this: If God is perfect, and we never will be, then why not keep sinning? Paul explains that a just God must condemn sin, and that continuing to do evil when we know what is right will reap God's punishment.
- Paul lists six Old Testament quotes that all express the sinfulness of humanity. He explains that the laws of the Old Testament were not meant to make us "good" before God, but to make us aware of sin. Without the law, we would not know what sin was.
- Verse 26 teaches us that God is just. And just like a just judge must punish crimes in court, a just God must punish sins committed. But God's grace is so great that he didn't want to see us suffer, so he sent Jesus to the cross as a "sacrifice of atonement" (verse 25), which means he took 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, we should strive to live like Jesus and avoid sin. Not because we need to "follow the rules," but because we love God and are grateful to Jesus. Think of it this way: If you were facing the death penalty and someone came in and took the death penalty in your place, would you leave the jail and go back to your old life of crime? Or, would you be so overwhelmed with gratitude that you seized all you could out of your second chance at life?
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?