Guilty as Charged – Romans 3
“Guilty!” We have seen or heard this word many times throughout our lives, in TV law dramas or reading newspaper articles. It is a jarring word. It is a life altering word. When this word is directed toward you, it is an admission that you have failed to uphold a standard. In growing up at Tates Creek I have never really dealt with that word. I always (but quite incorrectly) was considered a “good kid,” and in accepting that conclusion missed the entire purpose of grace.
I would be a perfect fit if you dropped me into the Roman time described in Chapter 3. The apostle Paul is trying to explain to the Jewish population that even though they have kept the law they still need the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. How odd this must have been? You live a life as best you can, you keep the laws and commandments, you are a “good” person and here is someone saying it means nothing without taking an additional step of accepting Jesus Christ into your life.
Paul knows and understands this and begins to chip away at this narrative in verses 10-18. There is no one who is good enough, the tongue that has spoken lies and gossip, the hands that have done nothing, the feet which have stood by and watched. Thankfully Paul reverses this idea and proclaims in verse 20 “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.” Moving on, Paul explains a revolutionary idea that we should boast that our faith in God is our redemption, not what we have done in our works. I thought I would share a section of lyrics to a song my wife, Lindsey, and I sang a few years ago by Sandra McCracken that seems a perfect fit.
Rock of Ages, “It is done!” you cried.
The curtain’s torn and I see justice satisfied,
Now write your mercy on my heart and hands,
Rock of Ages, in faith I stand.
Rock of Ages, my great hope secure,
Your promise holds just like an anchor to my soul,
Bind your children with cords of love and grace,
Rock of Ages, we give you praise.
Is there anything more confounding and beautiful than the picture of Christ stepping in front of us in order to take the charge of being guilty? It has the power to change our lives and shape this new kingdom by sharing with others this grace that has been given.