The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
The apostle Paul makes it absolutely clear in Romans 3:9-20. Nobody has a privileged status. There is not one singule person in the whole world, nor has there ever been one, who can stand with confidence before God. Everyone has failed to keep God’s good and perfect law.
This doesn’t mean that everyone is evil in the same ways. It doesn’t mean that there is no good to be found in the world or in individuals within this world. What it does mean is that nobody fulfills God’s requirement of perfect righteousness.
What will we do with the potentially insulting statements in verses 11-18? They are awfully forceful. Surely, we say, they couldn’t be aimed at us, could they? In fact, the intent is specifically to condemn the reader. The outcome of every failure is death and destruction. Every error is fatal. Every sin is mortal. It may not bring ruin at the moment, but in the end, there will be no survivors.
The only survivor, the only righteous one, is Jesus, God the Son. It is his righteousness, imputed to those who believe, which can redeem us from eternal death. The apostle makes it clear. Nobody can be justified by the works of the law. Before God everyone is guilty, because God’s law demonstrates guilt in all.
At the same time that we see the disastrous effect of sin, may we also have grace to see the redeeming love of Jesus. He is the one who can take his perfect righteousness to replace our sin. The same God who made the rules about holiness can, by is decree, pronounce us free from sin and death. This is received ony by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. Thanks be to God for providing such a rescue so freely.
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