Are you a rule follower? Have you ever thought about why? Most of us were taught that we either follow the rules, or get punished. If that is you, I have another question for you. Who do you believe God to be? The judge? The wrathful prosecutor? An angry father? Do you fear his punishment and condemnation? Believe it or not, our answers to those questions can help us understand our faith. Or, maybe they highlight our lack of faith. According to Paul in Romans 4, if we believe those things about God, we are living according to the law. How can we tell? Let’s first consider righteousness.
How could I ever consider myself righteous? I am painfully aware of how short I fall from God’s expectations, which is to say that I am disobedient to him and his commands. I am sinful. But, to say so, invites the condemnation and wrath that I fear. Even worse, to believe it, is to ignore Jesus. Truly, because of Jesus death and resurrection, I do NOT fall short of God’s expectations. In fact, I fully satisfy them. That is the message that Paul is preaching today in Romans 4. In verse 25, Paul explains that Jesus was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” So, does Jesus make us righteous?
Yes, Jesus can make us righteous. In fact, the Bible elevates believers in Jesus to Priests and Saints, but there is a catch to reaching this mark. We must believe. We must have faith. Paul uses Abraham as an example. Faith for Abraham was being “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:13). Remember, Abraham was 100 years old, yet his faith in God’s promises enabled him to push through physical weakness (Romans 4:19). Furthermore, “no unbelief made him waiver.” Abraham’s unwavering posture points to mental toughness. Faith in God, therefore, provided everything he needed to persevere and succeed. That’s powerful! So, the real question of righteousness looks less like living according to a strict set of rules and more like knowing, trusting and believing that God, through Jesus, has a plan for my life.
Finally, what is the evidence that our faith is full and real? Glory. Not to us, but glory to God. Looking at verse 20, we see that Abraham “grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God.” We can conclude that faith is fully manifested in us when we give God glory for everything in every way. Ironically, living for God’s glory means that we cannot possibly entertain thoughts, or engage behaviors that are contrary to his nature. To do so would negate our belief and therefore, his very existence.
It’s that simple. Faith, righteousness and glory do not come from finding all the right things to do in the Bible. Instead, our perfection now and eternally, comes through “the one whom the Bible reveals,” Jesus Christ. Believe it!
Chambers, Oswald (2011-05-01). My Utmost for His Highest, Classic Edition (Kindle Locations 2064-2066). Discovery House. Kindle Edition.