Wednesday of the Week of Lent IV
For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith. For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. (Romans 3:20-28)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 4:1–17; Psalm 69; Romans 3:21–4:12
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2kQhhvX
It’s worth quoting the full eight verses above, because they are essential to the biblical proclamation and understanding of the Gospel. They are also key to grasping what Lutherans hold is the foundation of the entire Christian witness: that one is justified by God’s grace as a gift, to be received by faith, apart from works of law. This is why I appreciate that we are reading through Paul’s epistle to the Roman congregation during Lent. For if there is one message we ought to hear again and again during Lent, it is the good news that we cannot save ourselves by our good deeds or attempts to be righteous in God’s sight!
Why is this such an important message, especially during Lent? It’s because we are reflecting upon and confronting our sin during Lent—and at the root of all sin is our desire to be “like God,” thinking we can save ourselves, as if we need no other Savior. To kneel at the feet of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in humble confession and repentance, we need to hear again “since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We can only be justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. If Lent serves a useful purpose, it is to bring us to a recognition of our sin and disobedience and that we must cling to our only hope and salvation, Jesus Christ.
Do you live burdened by sin, guilt and shame? Do you have the sense, day by day, that your sin is greater, more serious, more shameful than anyone else’s? Do you believe that your sins are unforgiveable, that Jesus wouldn’t forgive someone like you? If so, read today’s passage and meditate upon it. Read it every day during the remainder of Lent and twice on Sunday! Take to heart the good news that all have sinned, no one is without sin, and all are equally in need of the gift of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by His blood! Receive that good news today—and live it! Receive it and live it, not because of who you are, but because of who Jesus is: Savior and Lord.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for forgiving me, a poor, troubled sinner. Amen.
Lenten Response: Read Romans 1-3, to hear again the fullness of the Gospel!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.