Monday July 5, 2021
Heavenly Father – help me start today with a clear heart and a clear mind ready to receive your word in a brand new way today. Amen.
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
The Apostle Paul challenges his listeners to gain a new and deeper understanding of the relationship between law and grace. He reveals the tension that lies between “religion as requirements” and “religion as transforming Grace.”
Eugene Peterson translates Paul’s words this way:
“But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become
Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” – Romans 3:21-24 MSG
Even in Paul’s time, people struggled to understand and embrace this “new” grace Jesus revealed in our relationship with God. And even still, in our time, when we lose sight of grace, our religion becomes moralistic and intolerant. But when we relentlessly pursue and embrace this generous gift of God’s grace, following Jesus becomes natural to us.
● Have you ever viewed Christianity as more of a “religion of requirements” than a “religion of transforming grace?”
● How has this segment of Paul’s teaching influenced your view of the relationship between law and grace?
Lord, these are your words. This is our story. Help me live in a way that honors you today and everyday. Amen.
The First 15
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