He Set Things Right 👈is a post listing verses about how we couldn’t & still can’t overcome sin but God can. He did and still does.
This morning I read Romans 3 & 4. God reminds us we are saved, redeemed, not because of our race or deeds but because of what He does.
So what difference does it make who’s a Jew and who isn’t, who has been trained in God’s ways and who hasn’t? As it turns out, it makes a lot of difference—but not the difference so many have assumed.
First, there’s the matter of being put in charge of writing down and caring for God’s revelation, these Holy Scriptures. So, what if, in the course of doing that, some of those Jews abandoned their post? God didn’t abandon them.
Do you think their faithlessness cancels out His faithfulness? Not on your life! Depend on it: God keeps His word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth.
Scripture says the same: Your words stand fast and true; Rejection doesn’t faze you. But if our wrongdoing only underlines and confirms God’s rightdoing, shouldn’t we be commended for helping out? Since our bad words don’t even make a dent in his good words, isn’t it wrong of God to back us to the wall and hold us to our word? These questions come up.
The answer to such questions is no , a most emphatic No!
How else would things ever get straightened out if God didn’t do the straightening?
It’s simply perverse to say, “If my lies serve to show off God’s truth all the more gloriously, why blame me? I’m doing God a favor.” Some people are actually trying to put such words in our mouths, claiming that we go around saying, “The more evil we do, the more good God does, so let’s just do it!” That’s pure slander, as I’m sure you’ll agree. So where does that put us? Do we Jews get a better break than the others? Not really. Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners.
Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mudslides. Every word they speak is tinged with poison. They open their mouths and pollute the air. They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, Don’t know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.
This makes it clear, doesn’t it, that whatever is written in these Scriptures is not what God says about others but to us to whom these Scriptures were addressed in the first place! And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else?
Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God. What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
But in our time something new has been added.
What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened.
The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us.
And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him.
For there is no difference between us and them in this.
Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin.
Having faith in him sets us in the clear.
God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.
This is not only clear, but it’s now —this is current history!
God sets things right.
He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this:
God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does.
We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God? Also canceled.
God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews.
How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.
But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all.
What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.
Romans 3:1-2, 2-31 MSG
So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things?
If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.
What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”
If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust HIM to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—
well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.
David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score.
Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?
Now think : Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That’s right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life. And it means further that Abraham is father of all people who embrace what God does for them while they are still on the “outs” with God, as yet unidentified as God’s, in an “uncircumcised” condition.
It is precisely these people in this condition who are called “set right by God and with God”! Abraham is also, of course, father of those who have undergone the religious rite of circumcision not just because of the ritual but because they were willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God’s action for them, the way Abraham lived long before he was marked by circumcision.
That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed.
If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract !
That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal.
A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect.
But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise —and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.
This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does.
God’s promise arrives as pure gift.
That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them.
For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.
We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody.
Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.
When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.
And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up.
He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said.
That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.”
But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless.
The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God .
Romans 4:1-25 MSG
In Christ, Beetle