Last week we asked, if God is for us, who can be against us? We have an equally important question to explore today: If God has justified us, who can condemn us? Knowing the answer is crucial to our relationship with Jesus!
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Transcript: Welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you joined us today as we continue our study of Children Of An Awesome God. All of these devotionals are taken from the eighth chapter of the book of Romans. Now today as we come near the end of the chapter—though, this is certainly not the last session we’re going to have in Romans chapter eight—The Apostle Paul begins to ask a series of questions.
Last time we looked at the question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And now beginning in verse 33, he asks a question and he goes on to answer that question. And these verses that I’m going to give you now, I suppose I personally have quoted them almost more times than any other verses in all the New Testament. I love these verses. “Who shall lay a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died—yea, rather, that is risen again and is even now on the right hand of the throne of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
Let’s unpack that question. Who can make a charge against God’s elect? Well, your enemies can. Satan does it all the time. If you’re married, you mate may be able to make a charge against you. It may also be true. And no one can condemn you.
Now, many of you know that I have more than simply a passing interest in Martin Luther. And if you were raised Catholic, you know that Luther had many, many faults. And I agree he did. But on the other hand, there’s something that we must learn from him. As he continued to confess his sins there in the monastery in Erfurt, trying to do everything that he can to gain the kind of perfection he needed to be a child of God and to enter heaven.
But he discovered when it came to confession, that sins, in order to be forgiven, had to be confessed. In order to be confessed, they had to be remembered. If they were not remembered, they could not be confessed; and if they were not confessed, they were not forgiven. And even if he remembered them all and confessed them all, tomorrow was another day with brand new sins. It was like mopping up the floor with the faucet running.
And then as he was studying the book of Romans, he came to chapter one. And he came to passages like this in Romans chapter eight, and discovered that when we receive Christ by faith, the righteousness of God is credited to us. God justifies us. And as Paul says here in the book of Romans, “If God is the one who justifies us, who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died.” What Luther discovered is that the righteousness of God is a free gift because we can’t add to it to make it better. We can’t do anything to subtract from it. And furthermore, it’s given to all believers. This became the basis of what is known as the priesthood of the believer. Luther said, “When I discovered this, it was as if I walked through the Gates of Paradise.”
Think about it! What he said is, now, it doesn’t matter how high God’s standard is, as long as I’m not the one who has to meet it. Christ meets God’s standard for me and gives me the gift of His righteousness; and so I can say as Luther said, my sins do not belong to me. They belong to Jesus. “Oh Jesus, I am thy sin; but Thou art my righteousness.” And so at last, he was free. Because human righteousness can never take the place of the righteousness of God.
This is the way in which, actually, we fight the devil. Because the devil is always making accusations against us, and he is saying some things that are true, but you’ll notice that the text says, “Who shall make a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again and is even now on the right hand of the throne of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” If God justifies you, then of course, you can accept that justification and you need not even condemn yourself. Because God has spoken, and that’s the end of it.
Let me ask you a question. Was Luther saved when he was confessing his sins there in the monastery day after day? No. There are plenty of people who go to church and confess their sins and tomorrow’s another day, and they have no idea where they stand before God. Luther discovered that through an act of faith, when we understand the Gospel, we receive the righteousness of God as a free gift. And it carries us all the way to heaven. And if God has justified us, who is there out there that can condemn us?
Thanks so much for joining us today. I sure hope that you tune in next time as we talk about the love of God. And as for today, just go with God.