Having repeatedly heard the phrase lately, “Preach the Gospel to yourself,” I was curious as to what this meant. And the more I thought about it, the clearer it became: Make sure to stay conscious of your own, ongoing spiritual need and God’s constant ability to meet it.
At first glance, this may seem like a selfish focus. But actually, it is completely to the contrary. I am most effective at sharing something when I am most impressed by it.
So, how convinced am I that God’s news is actually good? Well, as I stated earlier, am I looking my need squarely in the face? I don’t have to reach far to do this but to conserve space I’ll just mention one instance.
While traveling last week, I am sad to say I behaved poorly to the TSA officer tasked with notifying us our books and magazines now have to be inspected. I wish I could tell you he started it. But then, rudeness met by rudeness is still just rudeness. And, yes, after breaking a sweat digging it from the bottom of my bag I had to hand him…a Bible. Sigh. Does my hypocrisy know no bounds?
So, after moments like these when I have trouble lifting my head to come into God’s presence, what exactly do I need to hear?
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.” Romans 3:21-25a
Whew! That’s good news! Not convinced yet? Well, there are several big-churchy words in there. But they’re worth chasing down.
First, redemption means, “the recalling of captives (sinners) from captivity (sin) through the payment of a ransom for them, that is, Christ’s death.”1 So, Jesus’ blood bought us out of slavery to sin. (Romans 6:14, 18, 22). I don’t have to sin anymore. In Christ, I now have the option not to, even if I don’t take it.
Second, sacrifice of atonement speaks of the mercy seat that covered the Ark in the OT Holy of Holies. “Rom 3:25 assures us that Christ was the true mercy seat, the reality of the cover of the Ark of the Covenant.” 2 So, His blood covers our sin. All of it.
Now, in fairness, does this mean that my behavior at every airport terminal doesn’t matter? Of course not! Hear Paul:
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!” Rom 6:15. But when I trip, Jesus has made provision for me, a way out, a way home.
And once again my heart is overwhelmed with this “righteousness from God” made available. Today.