Recently one morning I was having one of those “not very motivated” days. I opened my Bible and started to read, but could not engage in what I was reading. Somehow I needed a jump-start for the day. So I paused, prayed, and pondered. Then I knew. I needed to go back to the basics!
So I turned to Romans 3. For me, the way Paul presents the gospel in those early chapters of the Roman letter continue to excite, encourage, and awe me.
I knew exactly where I was headed. In verses 10 through 12 of chapter 3, Paul hammers the idea that “there is no one righteous, not even one, no one who understands, no one who seeks God!” All right, all right! I get it! But Paul keeps hammering, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless. There is no one who does good, not even one!”
Before Paul gets to the good stuff, he wants to be sure we get the message that we are not good and that we have no way of becoming good, that “no one will be declared righteous before God by observing law!”
Are you ready for this? Don’t ever forget this! All who believe in Jesus are GIVEN righteousness! A gift! We don’t work for it! We can’t work for it! We don’t deserve it and will never deserve it! We receive it! And just in case there’s anyone out there who thinks you’ve sinned too much ever to receive forgiveness, Paul gives a scorcher. “God justifies the wicked”(Rom. 4:5)! The wicked! We can’t get worse than that! And we are still counted righteous because of Jesus’ gift to us. It’s believing rather than ever achieving; it’s receiving rather than achieving.
AND – get this – our sins are now not even counted against us (4:8)!!! Impossible? Read that verse in every translation you can find. It really does say that our sins are no longer counted against us!
We may be tempted to think, “Then what’s the big deal if our sins are no longer counted against us?” Because Paul knew we would think that way, in chapter 6, he says, “So just keep on sinning so that He can keep forgiving? By no means!” We died to sin! We do not want to sin! We do not want the consequences of sin! And we do not want to betray Him Who has so loved us so well!
I could go on, but you get the point. On that morning, when I was not feeling very motivated, I went back to the basics and got so charged. I wanted the whole world to remember this amazing, astonishing, remarkable, mind-boggling Redeemer Jesus. This Jesus who became one of us so that He could take on the entire family debt of sin, go to hell with it, pay our sin debt, and then come back to give us His righteousness so that we could be with Him for all eternity.
Sometimes, we just need to go back to the basics! Romans 3 is a great place to begin!