July 21, 2014

romans3-23

Numbers 16:1-19; Romans 3:21-31; Matthew 19:13-22

Jesus forgives sin, yet his authority to do so was challenged from the start. (Mark 2:5-7) Paul turns a nice phrase in our Second Reading, stating Jesus is both “just and justifier.” The one who forgives the sin of the world is just to do so. John picks up this line, teaching that Jesus is not only justified to forgive those who confess their sin, he is faithful to do so. (1John 1:9)

The Justifier justifies by the law of faith, the free gift of grace—not through payment for sin through good deeds. The Gospel illustrates this with little children who came to Jesus easily, not even attempting to impress him, and by contrast, the stuffy young man who sought to dazzle him with all the religious things he had done. Since the man relied on works to justify himself, Jesus showed him the impossibility of his self-imposed task.

Will good deeds bring you into the promised land? Will insistence that any religion is just as good as another and that you deserve release from this wilderness of sin? No! All have sinned and need a justifier. Thank God that the Justifier justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for justifying the unjust by extending your grace to me. Amen.

Today’s devotion was written by Mark Ryman,
Pastor of Saint John’s Lutheran Church in Asheboro, NC.

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