Religions have the same idea – I am able to earn right standing with God through my good deeds and works. Even outside of religions, our hearts operate under the idea that if we are good enough and do enough good things then we have worth and can be accepted. Many of us attempt to find this validation through our acts of moral goodness, work performance, social connections or even the lives of our children. Verse 20 tells us, however, that not one of us will ever be good enough to be justified in God’s sight. The law does not show us our inherent goodness but rather points us to our failures and how we have missed the mark. This would be a depressing message except that Paul says in verse 21 “but now” which signals a complete shift from how we have always related to God. He tells us that a completely unheard of approach to God has come! We are no longer slaves to earning our acceptance before God through trying harder or doing better. There’s a perfect performance record that is available to us as a gift and when we have it it’s the end of our struggle for validation. Through Jesus we receive not only this perfect performance record but so much more. All that Jesus did has been bestowed upon those who believe in him. Through the Gospels, we see that Jesus was more than just a good person – he was brave, bold, compassionate, self sacrificial and infinitely more. This is our new identity. We no longer need to look to boast in anything else for our justification but rather to simply look upon Christ and root ourselves in the work that he has done.
- Lauren Phillips
1) Who or what do you seek for your validation outside of Christ?
2) Can you think of a time in your life when the reality of the gift of your justification through Christ felt real to you?
*Go around your group and have each person say their name and a few things they are good at doing. Then, ask who thinks they are good at being like Jesus. Discuss why or why not. To be truly good at being like Jesus, we would have to do everything perfectly and in complete obedience to God. Can anyone really do that? Thankfully, Jesus could and he lived on this earth so that he could be perfect in our place, so that we wouldn’t be separated from God!
**Lord Jesus, how amazing is your work from Creation to Incarnation to Death and beyond! There is nothing we could ever do to adequately thank you, so we ask that you will accept our praise and our desire to follow in your ways, strengthened by the Spirit whom you sent. Amen.