Each one of us will have several “moments of truth” that will alter the trajectory of our lives. For me, one of these defining moments came in 1998 when I had been a Christ-follower for about a year.
I was overwhelmed with condemnation.
I was marred by guilt.
I was clothed with shame.
But then it happened.
In the midst of this turmoil, I read Romans 3:21-26 and my eyes were opened to several truths:
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (NIV).
I’m as righteous as Jesus himself
As God the Holy Spirit ministered grace to my heart, Romans 3:22 jumped off the page: “This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (NIV).
There it was, a moment of truth. The truth I saw clearly was that Jesus himself was the embodiment of God’s righteousness, and through faith in him, I was incorporated into him.
Jesus fulfilled God’s Ten Commandments perfectly for me. His righteous life was credited to me as a gift. As this truth of God penetrated my heart, my love for Jesus was deepened beyond what I knew was possible. I couldn’t stop telling people, “Did you know that Jesus will give you his righteousness as a gift?” As a result of this gift, we are not only forgiven, but we are fully pleasing to God the Father based upon the merit and life of Jesus. God’s grace won my heart.
I’m free from the power of sin
My behavior began to transform as I saw myself as God the Father saw me; I was clothed in Christ. This made me righteous, and the more I believed that truth, by faith, God the Spirit unleashed a transformative power in my life. Jesus not only made me righteous, he set me free from old, negative sinful habits. Jesus, by the Spirit’s power, gave me new affections to honor him. I was redeemed. Just as God redeemed the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus set me free from sin through his liberating power. The key to my growth was not to try to stop sinning, but to treasure Jesus and the righteousness he gave me.
The key to my growth was not to try to stop sinning, but to treasure Jesus and the righteousness he gave me.
The more I treasured him in response to his grace, the more obedience his redeeming power produced in my life. As verse 24 says, “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (NIV).
As I read I realized that not only was I righteous and redeemed through the work of Jesus, I was forever forgiven. Seventeen years later, tears fill my eyes and my heart still melts at the thought of Jesus taking my place on the cross and dying for all my sins: past, present, and future.
When Jesus died on the cross, he was the world’s atoning sacrifice. The word atone means to wipe or cover over. The precious blood of Jesus covers all my sins and all your sins and wipes them away: “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25, NIV).
To live in a state of forgiveness is beautiful and powerful. Because I realized that I was a forgiven person, I became a forgiving person.
How great a salvation
I’m often asked about the key to personal discipleship. For me, the answer is to think all day long about how Jesus has given me his very righteousness and that his redeeming power lives in me. I also think about how the blood of Jesus was shed to forever forgive me. The more you and I do this, the more God’s Spirit transforms our lives. Even when we read the Bible, we will read it through the eyes of Christ with grace-colored lenses.
We all need inspiration and transformation. The Creative Arts Team at Transformation Church takes a short snippet from my sermon each week to provide inspiration that leads to transformation. If these weekly videos inspire you, share them!