‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…’
Those words fill my chest with a tightness, because it is hard to look at myself and think that I am a wretch. But I am. Every day I find myself sinning. I find myself hating people. I find myself caring only about myself. I find myself lusting after things I can not have, lusting after gross things, living only to please myself, wanting to hurt other people for hurting me, and I wonder at this grace, this grace that is such a powerful part of the gospel.
The gospel was more than forgiveness to this girl recovering from an ED. It was more than a release from prison. It was light. It was hard. But it was freedom.
Why was it freedom? What is so hard and yet so drawing and beautiful and wonderful about this gospel?
Romans 3:10-18, ‘
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.’
This is tough to hear. It’s tough to hear that I’m not a good person, but I know that I’m not, and that is what makes the gospel so freeing, so glorious.
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ coming. Jesus Christ came to do more than just forgive. He came to do more than to save the world from its sin and corruption.
I have been meditating on the truths of Romans 3 after listening to a rich sermon series on the atonement, ‘Jesus Christ coming to save sinners.’ Salvation, the saving of our souls, of my soul, has been opened to me in a richer, fuller way that has convicted my heart, warmed my heart, and shown me more of the amazing glory and holiness of our great God.
Romans 5:8 -‘But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ We were sinners. I was a sinner. I was like a person, lost in a storm, steeped in the own corruption of my heart, and God was angry with my sin. Some might say? But God is just love. He is never angry.
Yet, if God was never angry at sin, He would not be holy. Habbakuk 1:13a says, ‘You are of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness.’ 1 John 1:5 says, ‘This then is the message which we have heard and declare unto you: that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.’
This is the beauty of God. God is holiness. He is perfection. He is just so awesome, I can’t really even begin to describe Him, and I am not awesome. That’s true, and that’s what makes the wonder of God sending His Son, so incomprehensible and truly astounding.
Why would a God who is so holy give us a way to be near to Him again, like those who walked with Him in the garden? Why? The only way I can even explain a bit of it is because God is LOVE. God is love, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. He will never let off a sinner in a court of law. Would you want a judge to let a murderer off for murdering someone? No, you wouldn’t. In the same way, we were guilty. The whole world was guilty before God.
Romans 3:19, ‘Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.’
That’s not my judgment. It’s God’s judgment, and there have been times when it really scared me. It did. It scared me to think that I had to stand before God on judgment day and face Him with every sinful thought I’ve had, every adulterous thought I have committed in my heart, every act of pride and arrogance, and every idol that I have put in His place.
Yet God provided a way. God Himself provided that way. We didn’t. I was dead in the water. This is what ED felt like. I felt like someone dead in the water, that I had no way out, no way to save myself, no way to survive.
Romans 8:3, ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:’
It’s hard for me to go on, because this really fills me with wonder and such brokenness, to think that God sent His own Son in the likeness of our human flesh and for SIN to reconcile us to God. The law couldn’t save me. All the good things I could attempt to do, all the good deeds and good words would be nothing. I’ve never been able to have this much freedom before in trying to never sin, because I am so imperfect. I am so sinful in and of myself.
God knew the weakness of my flesh. He knew that there was only one way to save this poor, broken girl, and He sent His Son to do it. The salvation that Jesus brought was more than forgiveness. It was even a propitiation. What??? You’re wondering what that word is. It’s used in Romans 3:24-25, ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;’
Propitiation – (Merriam Webster Definition)
1: the act of propitiating
2: something that propitiates; specifically: an atoning sacrifice.
In other places it says, ‘an appeasing sacrifice.’ Romans 1:18 shares, ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;’
God doesn’t like sin. It is against His very nature. His wrath was revealed against it, and there was only one thing that could be done in that courtroom for my freedom. Someone had to pay the debt. I had incurred an INFINITE debt, one that I could never pay. The judge was about to pass the condemnation. And God sent His Son to take my place, to pay the price that I could never even possibly ponder paying.
Why do I believe in God? Well, I can’t say that it was anything in me. The more I grow, the more I realize that it is God who works in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure. He has and is showing me that to live in His light, in His Word, to obey His law as the standard for the way I treat life, sex, stealing, lying, cheating, and other moral sins of the day, is the only hope. And it is only because of His marvelous salvation that I can embrace that for my own. And it was all of His Spirit. It was all of the glory, love, and redeeming work of Jesus Christ. It was all of the love of God, who sent HIs Son so that we might have everlasting life.
(The Wonder of a Holy God and the panorama of His love, justice, mercy, and righteousness is like a mountain that goes on and on and of which I can never see the end.)
Why am I FREE? I’m free because Jesus Christ came to bear the wrath of His only Heavenly Father for sin. On the cross, He cried out, ‘My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?’ He felt the wrath of God for OUR sin. He was perfect and sinless in every way, and yet He bore the nails in His hands because of His LOVE for His Father, the love that we experienced through Him.
By His coming, Jesus came and established the law, the perfect righteousness of God. God was not going to compromise His law against sin, the 10 commandments, and Jesus Christ was the way God provided to both satisfy God’s righteousness and redeem us to Himself.
I am free because this grace, this gift, this love, this fulfillment of the law was free. I could not pay it. I could not do anything. I could not even possibly ponder being ‘good enough.’
John 12:47, ‘And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.’
Jesus came to save the world. Jesus’ words are life. Jesus’ very presence was light. The healing He provided pointed people back to the ultimate HEALING He came to give. He came to HEAL our relationship with God. He came to heal the sores that sin had left all over us. He came to make us NEW.
2 Corinthians 5:17, ‘Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.’
Loving Christ can be a mere moral code for me anymore, like I treated it for so many years. It’s a relationship, a journey of awe, hope, and joy, and freedom because Jesus Christ said, ‘It is finished.’ He has removed my sin as FAR as the EAST is from the WEST. It was complete, final. And I am so grateful that my Heavenly Daddy is taking me on this lifelong journey of knowing this great, holy, and awesome God so much more, who has provided such a great way of salvation for this broken girl.
IN HIM, I AM NEW. In HIM, I AM FREE. Words can never express this awesome debt of love I owe.