15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. 17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
It is very easy to get caught up in self-righteous indignation when we hear of some of the terrible things that have happened recently in the world. And I’ve noticed this tendency to moral outrage not just in Christians, but also in people who would not describe themselves in any way religious.
As a devout Jew, Paul’s previous focus was an attempt to become righteous by his works and obedience to the Law of God. But his powerful encounter with Jesus showed Paul a new way. He is teaching us that we can only come to God by His grace, not on the basis of our merit, our works, or our efforts. If our focus is on “being good” it leads us to being proud and self-righteous.
I am not dismissing the importance of advocating for social change and justice in the world. But if we believe that we are all sinners saved by grace, we must guard against the attitude that I am better than the “terrible person” who’s done something that I read about in the media. If we are honest, we will acknowledge that we all are deeply selfish and prone to sinful behaviours and attitudes.
Thank you God for Your incredible grace to us, and I pray that we will carry that heart of grace to a world that needs it.
Written by Shelley Witt