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Justified

Romans 3:1-31 7/21/19

What are the implications of living in a world where most people no longer fear God? (3:18)

What are the real life ramifications of people living without the FEAR OF GOD? At the top of the list is a lack of humility and a growing pride or hubris. I think that aptly describes much of the secular world of education. Next on the list must be a constantly developing sense of self determination and a trust in one’s own righteousness, which leads to a contempt for others (not like yourself).

What is the value then of the fear of God, you may ask? And although there need not be a utilitarian reason for the fear of God, it turns out to be a great starting place for rightly relating to God.

It starts by knowing from where this fear should come. God is holy and righteous and mankind is not. We are in fact sinful, even willfully rebellious. And God despises sin. He hates it. And so He promises righteous judgment against it. Do you see the problem there?

He knows just how destructive it is and how it ruins lives and brings death – it is the separator. Does this mean He despises us because we are sinful? May it never be! But that sin remains the thing that separates us from Him and causes untold hurt and terror in the world intended to be where we would live in harmony with Him.

We were made in His image to be in relationship with Him, placed in a world made uniquely suited for that purpose. Sin brought death and decay to both mankind and creation itself. So yes, God has a pretty strong thing against sin. And as our Creator He calls us to a standard of good and to be righteous and to love. And more often than not we fail. Being aware of all of this, I think fearing Him is valid.

But knowing He calls us to love means He first loves, and goes before us to demonstrate that love. At the heart of showing this love is pardoning and forgiving our sin that does in fact anger Him, separate us from Him and require judgment. And so even before stepping into this world in the flesh, to once and for all die the substitutionary death that would bring final redemption for the cost of this sin, He always spoke of an unchanging love for His people. He delights in it. This week this was highlighted by the prophet Micah – “He will again have compassion on us, He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all of their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18,19)

The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is the deepest trench in the oceans of the world measuring around 36,000 feet deep or 6.8 miles. If Mount Everest were dumped into the trench it would be covered by a mile of water.

So imagine you sailing a boat over that trench and being able to put all of your sin that so easily entangles you, into a seashell and dropping it into the ocean at that point. The weight of your sin would make it sink and you would watch it go deeper and deeper until it disappeared into the depths. Your sins would keep going and sink deeper and for longer than you probably take the time to watch and wait - never to be retrieved again - further away than anyone could ever reach.

Audio Adrenaline’s 2001 song, “Ocean Floor” depicts this removal of our sin so well…

All my selfish thoughts all my pride, the things I hide, You have forgotten about. My misdeeds, all my greed, all the things that haunt me now, they’re not a pretty sight to see.

But they’re wiped away, by a mighty, mighty wave… They’re on the bottom of the ocean floor. They’re all behind you, they’ll never find you, they’re on the ocean floor. Your sins are forgotten, they’re on the bottom of the ocean floor. Your sins are erased and they are no more, they’re out on the ocean floor.

Even before the cost of the sin was paid, God was paying it forward, forgiving His people and declaring them, justified. He didn’t have to do this. “But, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…” (Ephesians 2:4,5)


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