Just, Just as I am
JUST- JUST AS I AM!
Rom 1-3 lays out the sinfulness of human kind and the righteous wrath, the just judgment of God which is directed toward us as sinners.
· Rom 1:18 explains that the wrath of God is already being poured out from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
· Rom 2 focused in on those who try to appease God’s wrath by good works, by law-keeping, by works of righteousness – but Rom 3 could conclude that “none is righteous, no not one….all have turned aside and together have become worthless.” Rom 3:20 can conclude “By the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.”
· So works based righteousness dead-ends in hell….and that is the way of salvation in every human religion. I’m going to save myself….That’s what it all comes down to.
· But last week we saw another way of salvation, another way to gain righteousness or to gain a right standing before God. Read Rom 3:21-25
o It’s the opposite of man’s way, based on man’s rituals or obedience or performance.
o It’s based not upon what we can give God, but on what God gives us
o It’s based not on what we do for God, but what God does for us in Jesus Christ.
o It’s not a righteousness which we earn by our good works but one we are given based on Christ’s good works.
o It requires us to take our faith out of ourselves and who we are and what we can do, and instead place our faith completely in who God is and what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.
· We saw that God’s way of righteousness propitiates or satisfies God’s wrath, and it satisfies or fulfills the law.
o it deals with the punishment that sin deserves and it also fulfills the righteousness of the law, it accomplishes the good works that God desires.
o So it takes away the penalty of sin and it gains the rewards of perfect performance.
o It deals with our debt and it gains us an inheritance.
o It takes away all the bad and it makes us perfectly good in God’s sight.
Justification doesn’t change us, it changes how God views us
Now it’s important that we understand this. Justification itself, doesn’t change us at all. There are other things that God does for us and in us that change us, but justification doesn’t change us at all. Justification changes my status, or standing or righteousness before God and that change is not based on anything I am or do.
Practically, we can’t separate our justification out from our adoption or our regeneration or our union with Christ. These are all part of a package deal. But logically and theologically – it is important that we understand each of these theological truths as distinct gifts or realities that are an integral part of our salvation.
Justification has to do with my legal or lawful standing before God. And my justification has nothing to do with a change that occurs within me or to me, it has to do with a change that occurs in how God views me.
· From my perspective, I trust or believe or have faith in Christ. That means I stop looking to my own goodness and performance as the basis of my standing before God and instead I look to Christ’s goodness and works for me. Justification happens when I look away from myself and look to Christ
· From God’s perspective He stops looking at my lack of goodness and performance as the basis of my standing before Him and instead He looks to Christ’s goodness and works on my behalf. Justification happens when God looks away from me and instead looks to Christ.
· Justification is when God and the sinner stop looking at each other and instead turn their gaze upon Jesus Christ and His cross.
· From the human standpoint that is called faith, from the divine standpoint that is called counting or reckoning.
· I trust in Christ for righteousness and God recons Christ’s righteousness to me.
So this forms the key them of the next paragraph – human faith and divine reckoning as the basis for justification. In other words, it is going to expand on or explain in more detail how justification happens.
I’ve called this message “Just, just as I am” and we are going to see 3 ways justification changes God’s view of me.
1. God sees me just as I am
2. God sees me despite who I am
3. God sees me irrespective of who I am
Read Rom 4:1-12.
As we read through this passage, look out for the key terms faith, works, counting or reckoning.
GOD ACCEPTS ME JUST AS I AM (3-5)
There are 3 major characters that form the basis for Paul’s illustration or argument here – Abraham in vs 1-5, David in vs 6-8, Jew and Gentile in vs 9-12.
Matthew begins his gospel, “the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” These were the two greatest names in Old Testament history. The twin towers as it were, the recipients of the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic Covenant.
If no man is justified by works and if all men are justified by faith and faith alone. If there is no other way of righteousness than by grace through faith – then Paul must show that these two pillars were justified in the same way. He must now demonstrate by proof what he asserted in 3:21 that this way of righteousness is attested to in the Law and the prophets. If he settles this in regard to Abraham and David, he’s pretty much settled it for everyone else.
No better person to use than Abraham.
• Abraham is one of the first people in Scripture to be acknoweldged as righteous before God
• He is the forefather of the Jewish nation and His name towers above others as a man who knew and pleased God and who experienced God's blessing.
• Ultimately, God sent the messiah who would bring God's blessing to the Jews and to all nations because of the covenant promise He had made to Abraham.
• Gen 12 “I will bless you and will make you name great and through you all nations on the earth will be blessed.”
Jewish belief about Abraham
• Jews knew how significant Abraham was in God's sight and how central he was in God's purposes – but they put it down to his personal merit before God, his good works.
• Taught that he was the first of 7 men who by their merits brought back the Shikinah glory to indwell the tabernacle.
• That Abraham began serving God at age 3
• That His righteousness was made complete by circumcision and his anticipatory fulfilment of the Law.
• Jewish prayer taught by the Rabbi's says the following (Manaseh 8) “Therefore thou, O Lord, God of the righteous, hast not appointed repentance for the righteous, for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who did not sin against thee, but thou hast appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.”
• Book of Jubilees, probably dating to second century minimimizes the weaknesses of the patriarchs, and contains the statement “Abraham, was perfect in all his deeds with the Lord, and well-pleasing in righteousness all the days of his life (23:10)
• So Paul basically takes the strongest Jewish argument and proves that they have got it wrong. He takes the most likely candidate for justication by human works – and shows that even Abraham was not justified by His merit – but by grace through faith.
Rejects premise that Abraham can boast (1)
If Abraham were justified by works he would have something to boast about – but in fact, nobody has anything to boast about before God.
3:19, 27 – God's whole point in justifying by grace is that people will not be able to point to anything they have done to deserve justification, in fact we all deserve just the opposite and will therefore have no reason to boast.
So rejects the premise outright and appeals to Scripture to support his rejection. What does the Scripture say.
Gen 15:1-6: the context
• Gen 12:1-2 = Call of Abraham
• Gen 15:1-6 = how will fulfill this promise as I don't even have a son?
• Gen 15:7-8,17-18 = formalizing of promise in covenant
• Gen 17:9-11 = sign of the covenant like rainbow, symbol that covenant in place
• Gen 21 = birth of Isaac at least 14 years later, probably more (waited 14 years for the first tangible evidence that God would fufill his promise
• Gen 22 = sacrifice of Isaac. Willing to do because believed that God must fuflill his promise through Isaac, so God would have to raise him from the dead (Heb 11)
How was Abraham justified?
Genesis 15:6 credited to Him as righteousness
Key word: counted = vs 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, = 7 times.
Logizomai = to consider, to reckon, to estimate to look upon.
One writer explains that force of the Hebrew word used in Genesis for reckoned is: “frequently used to indicate what a person, considered by himself, is not, or does not have, but is reckoned, held, or regarded to be or to have.” (Hendricksen, 147)
· So something that a person in themselves is not, but regarded or seen to be by another.
· For example 1 Sam 1:13 Hannah is praying praying so earnestly that Eli regards her as being druken, even though she actually isn't – same word used
· Gen 38:15 Judah saw Tamar at the city gate he thought she was a prostitute and treated her as such, when in fact she was his daughter in law.
Recon has nothing to do with what the person actually is – emphasis is on how they are viewed and therefore treated by another.
Justification changes how God views us
So when the Scripture speaks of us being justified in God's sight, its not speaking about how we changed.
Emphasis is on how God's view of us has changed.
Despite the fact that we are not righteous, that we are the same sinful people with same sinful past, same weaknesses, same characteristics, same personalities – God sees us as righteous, recons us as righteous and then treats us accordingly.
Believed – first time word believed is used in O.T. And result is righteousness.
Depending on, trusting in the promise of God concerning his seed.
This was not just Isaac. Initally and most immediately Isaac, but remember the promise was that all nations on earth would be blessed through you. The promise was of a descendant who would come in Abraham's lineage and ultimately bring God's blessing to all nations.
Abraham was looking forward in faith to the same person that we look back to in Faith – God's promised seed, God's chosen messiah.
The Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser explains it as follows :
“For Abraham, it meant he had to renounce all his human efforts to secure the promise and depend on the same divine person who spoke of the future to work in the present and the future to accomplish what He said He would do. Thus Abraham possessed the promises of God as yet unrealized when he possessed the God of the promises and His trustworthy word.” Found in Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 92.
Not by merit (4-5)
Does not work = not work in general, work in regard to making one right with God, trying to please God, trying to gain God's blessing.
Faith and works mutually exclusive
Faith alone, can play no part in gaining approval, no trust in it
If it is by grace, cannot be by merit, cannot gain it or keep it by anything I do.
Just as I am
Justifies the ungodly, not the godly.
Something don't have that God regards me as having. See that in life of Abraham
· Before justified -Sarai in Egypt Gen 13 before was a sinner.
· After justified -Gen 16 Sarah and Hagar = after was still a sinner
Not because of His godliness but because of His faith in God and His promise.
God you will do this. I can't and I don't deserve it.
Takes it even a step further. Not only does God not justify us because of who we are – but despite who we are.
2: GOD ACCEPTS ME DESPITE WHO I AM(6-8)
Now he’s going to move onto David….
Jews: Justification by merit = God justifies because of who I am, because of my good works I receive God's blessing.
Quotes David – psalm 32
Background Psalm 32 + David
• Psalm 32 is a psalm of confession. A psalm in which David acknoweldges his sin before God
• If Abraham towered above the rest as an example of someone who was regarded as blessed by God and righteous in His sight – then David was the next peak
• The greatest king Israel has ever had, the foreshadow of the Messiah, the man after God's own heart.
• Quite possibly as David composed this psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he had in mind the sins he committed with regard to Bathsheba: adultery, murder, hypocrisy, lying and deceiving, hiding his sin and much more.
Here David says – who is the blessed man, who is the one who receives blessing from God?
• Not the one who is righteous by his own merit, not the self-righteous, not the good man
• But the sinner against whom the Lord does not count his transgression.
The one who wilfully rebels against God, the one who falls short of God's glory and goodness, the one who misses the mark and wanders from the road – but who acknowledges their sin and receives God's grace
Not that they have not sinned – but God chooses not to view them as sinners. Not to count, to reckon their sin to them – not to place it against their account
Illustration Eating at a restuarant
If go and eat out with someone. When comes time to pay – can either each pay your own way, or you can say to the waiter charge their expenses to my account.You then settle the bill, paying for what you have eaten and what they have eaten.
Not that the haven't eaten, being charged for what they have eaten, or that you have eaten their food.
Simply that what they have eaten is charged, reckoned, assigned to your account, so that you fit the bill as if you had eaten what they ate.
Blessed is the man whose sin is not reckoned or charged by God to their own account.
Bill must still be paid, but saw last week that God reckons it to Christ – that is what happened on the cross.
Though they are sinners and acknowledge their sin before God – yet God does not regard them as sinners. This is a central part of justification – is the exact opposite of merit, blessing because of my goodness or worthiness – blessing despite me de-merits and unworthiness
God accepts me not just as I am, but despite who I am.
“While we were still sinners Christ died for the ungodly.” (Rom 5:8)
God accepts me just as I am, Despite who I am
One last point he must make to prove the point and paint a complete picture of how incredible justification is.
3: GOD ACCEPTS ME IRRESPECTIVE OF WHO I AM (9-12)
Jews – circumcision was a sign that you were God's chosen people, that you had a unique relationship to God, that you were part of the covenant – sign of the covenant we saw in Genesis 17.
Are we not in a right relationship to God because we are in this covenant relationship, because we are circumcised and therefore part of God's covenant people?
When was Abraham justified?
Gen 15 – circumcision came in Gen 17
Justified before circumcised, justified before covenant formally cut – so the act of circumcision could not have been the reason why Abraham was righteous in God's sight.
He was justified while still uncircumcised
Circumcision was merely the seal, the sign that he had been justified by His faith.
Illustration = marriage ring (11)
Marriage ring is a sign and seal of my marriage. I was married before I put this ring on. If I take it off, still married. Wear it to show that I am married, I wear it because I am married.
Circumcision has value, but not as a means of justification – as a sign of it – vs 11a!
That means that those who have the same faith as Abraham can have his same standing before God even though they are not circumcised. Vs 11b God’s purpose was to make him the First in a long line of people who will be made right with God by grace through faith.
God intended him to be an example of justification by faith not by works or merit.
Vs 12 Not only to the uncircumcise but also the circumcised – but not because of their circumcision – but because they follow his example of faith.
Whether circumcised or not, justification is by grace alone, through faith alone.
Gentile = worst of sinners
Why does Paul keep coming back to this Jew Gentile issue? This circumcised or not?
Because for centuries there were the Jews who had God’s law, who were God’s special chosen people, who had access to God at the temple and had the priesthood and the sacrifices and who had a special covenant relationship with God.
Then there were the Gentiles who were far off, who worshipped false gods and made idols and had no access to God, no priesthood, no sacrifices, no law, no promises. They were, as Paul puts it in Eph 2:12 “having no hope and without God in this world.” They represent the sinners of Rom 1, the idolaters and homosexuals and liars and murders whom God had handed over to their sin. They represented the untouchables, the unclean, those whose unrighteousness was a given and whose fate is sealed.
Paul wants to be clear as he presents the gospel – Jesus Christ has blown that all away.
When you hear Paul emphasizing Jew and Gentile, you hear him saying there is no one too righteous and no one too sinful. There is no one near enough and no-one too far away. No sinner too lost – that he is beyond the reach of God’s gospel grace in Jesus Christ.
That includes you!
Application: Keep trusting as a sinner
• That doesn't change when we become a Christian
• How I enter into a right relationship and how I remain in that right relationship is the same
• Justification doesn't change who I am, it merely changes how God chooses to view me and therefore respond to me.
• We tend to acknoweldge that God justifies sinners, but we have a hard time swallowing that God continues to justify those who continue to sin.
• I don't mean that we continue in willful rebellion – we will address that in a few weeks time when we get to Rom 6
• But we do and will continue to sin as Christians and the only reason we have any standing before God is because He continues to recon us righteous because we continue to depend on Christ's merits and not our own.
• As Christians we have a very poor understanding of the depth of our sinfulness. Completely underestimate how petty our obedience is and the depth of our sinfulness. Our good works are always tainted by false motives, our righteousness always falls short of God's standard of perfection.
We are willing to acknowledge we are sinners in general terms, but we don’t want to acknowledge out specific sin. We don’t want to be seen by others as weak and sinful and shameful at times. We don’t want to admit to others our ongoing struggle with sin. We want others to be impressed with us and think well of us.
Because at a heart level – we don’t fully understand how God’s view of us has changed. The focus of His gaze is now on Christ in us and not on us. CHRIST in us. That is where our gaze should be as well.
Who cares what people think of me…..who cares what I think of myself…..God sees Christ in me.
That’s the doctrine of justification
· What is the main result of justification – security – God never changes, Christ’s work is complete – and so I am completely secure in it.
· The main application of the doctrine of Justiication is this – stop considering and thinking upon and looking at yourself so much and spend more time looking at the person and work of Christ. If you have anything to boast in it is this – Christ in you.
Just. Just as I am, just despite who I am, just irrespective of who I am