Before I really get into to this, let me give you a little background first…
Over the last three weeks I have been preaching a series of messages entitled “Imago Dei: Created, Distorted, Renewed”. Typically at this time of the year I would be preaching on the topic of biblical sexuality but I felt the Lord lead me to lay this foundation first. God is constantly helping me to understand that we live out of our identity. Wherever we draw our identity from is the image that we will represent. I felt like God was saying, “I don’t want my sons and daughters to live under the weight and struggle of behavior modification, but I want them to realize that I created them in my image and for my glory.”
So we started in Genesis to see how God created everything good according to His purpose and for His glory. We saw how God created man and woman in His image and His likeness. We explored the great tragedy of sin entering into creation as a result of man’s outright rebellion against His loving and gracious Creator. We also learned of the catastrophic consequences of sin and how it affects us to this day. We came face to face with the fact that because of sin the image of God in humanity had been distorted and that outside of God’s salvation through Christ we were destined for eternal damnation.
Now I know that might sound a little heavy to you but if we don’t preach on the reality of sin and God’s judgment then people will have a very hard time understanding God’s grace and mercy in salvation. We must come to the know our sinful state and hopelessness before we can cry out to the Lord to save us. The gospel is the good news but the good news is not good news to someone who thinks they are just fine on their own. What makes the gospel so powerful is the way it pierces our darkness to bring the light of God salvation.
So just last night we were in Romans chapter three so that we could get a better understanding of the fallen state of man as a result of sin and while were unpacking Romans 3:9-26 the Holy Spirit showed up in a wonderful way to reveal Christ and refresh our hearts in the gospel. After the meeting a couple of people told me that it was as if God saved them all over again. Now that’s an interesting statement to say the least! It seemed that the verse several people were blown away by in Romans chapter three was verse 20 which says, “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
One of the young women in our church came up to me after the meeting and said that for the first time God helped her to see that Jesus was bigger than the law. She spoke of how she knew that the law was a mirror and that when she looked into it she could see everything wrong with her but she never took her eyes off of the law to look at Jesus. She was constantly under stress and pressure feeling like she didn’t measure up. The most profound thing was that she realized that God wasn’t calling for her works but for her to put her faith in Jesus. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of God’s Word she would have never come to that conclusion on her own. I am so grateful that God’s Word is living and powerful!
You see we don’t have a problem attempting to gain righteousness based on our own work and merit. It comes so easy to us. The truth that is so revolutionary and counter-intuitive is that we can’t do anything to get God to pardon, love, accept, justify, or save us. He in His amazing grace, unconditional love, and great mercy has done everything that needed to be done in order to secure eternal salvation. We rebelled against Him and He loved us, we are weak but He is our strength, we were enemies and He accomplished reconciliation through the death of His Son. According to the Scriptures, our work is to believe. As He brings us to faith in Jesus we take part in the great exchange. We exchange our sin for His righteousness, our death death for His life, our endless toil for His true rest, and the spirit of bondage for the spirit of adoption.
In the end, the law shows us our sinful state but it is powerless to rescue us from it. Only Jesus can do that. As Tim Keller once said, “The gospel is that Jesus lived the life you should have lived and died the death you should have died, in your place, so God can receive you not for your record and sake but for his record and sake.”