Romans 3: 19-26
How can we be declared “NOT GUILTY” in GOD’s court?
We are accountable for our sins before God. He is the only righteous Judge when it comes to perfection and truth. The Almighty God judges correctly that we are sinful (Psalm 51: 4-6).
Now what? In his letter to the Roman Christians Paul shows how this Judge makes us “not guilty” without compromising his truth, justice, and mercy. Luther called this letter “the chief part of the New Testament ... truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 35, page 365.)
Read - Romans 3: 19, 20
Who is subject to God’s law?
What can the law not do for us?
What then is the purpose of the law?
In God’s courtroom we cannot argue with God, deny our sins, make excuses, or even rationalize what we do in disobedience to his words and commands. Why not?
What are some excuses, or rationalizations our sinful nature make’s anyway?
Looking Further into Scripture
1 John 1: 7-10
What does God’s word encourage us to do when confronted with our sins?
1 John 2: 1-2
What is God’s answer to this, our deepest problem, the guilt of our sin?
Romans 3: 21-24
What is the only source of Righteousness?
How is this Righteousness made known in both the Old and New Testaments?
For whom is God’s righteousness intended? In other words, whom does God justify?
Not everyone benefits from this righteousness. In fact, in verse 22, Paul explains to us why this is true. What is Paul saying in this verse?
Sometimes a criminal “gets away with it.” We can think of the circumstances where the defense attorney covers up the evidence, or clouds the issue well enough that there is not enough evidence to convict him. Still the criminal knows in his heart what is true. How is this different from God’s declaration to us when he says that we are “not guilty” (Consider verse 24)?
Looking Further into Scripture
What do these passage offer to this concept that we truly are “Innocent, though Guilty”?
Romans 5: 6-8
1 Peter 3: 21-22
Picturit from the Lasting Church
Christmas and Easter are major holy days in our celebration of Christ’s work. In the Old Testament, one of the major festivals was the Day of Atonement. It was a wonderful time to be in God’s House, the Temple. On that day the priest went back into the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence was. There on the top of the Ark of the Covenant he sprinkled the blood of a sacrificed animal. Consider Hebrews 9:22.
Romans 3: 25, 26
Paul also now makes the connection from Old to New. How does God make a presentation of blood?
What did God demonstrate by sacrificing his Son for the sins of the world?
God is both “just” and the one who “justifies.” Explain.
God did not compromise his truth, his justice or his mercy, and yet declares those who are truly guilty to be innocent.
What symbols in our church remind us of the Day of Atonement and its fulfillment in Christ?
CONFESSION (Luke 18:13)
When we measure ourselves according to the Ten Commandments what is the only conclusion?
Consider the words we speak in the confession of sins on Sunday. How should God answer?
ABSOLUTION (Psalm 103:10)
When God measures us according his Son, what is his assessment of us?
Consider the words the pastor speaks during the Absolution? How does God in fact answer our confession of sin?
What Does Luther Say?
Martin Luther explained the doctrine of justification with an analogy of a father and son. Read this section of his writings and see what point he is making.
A son I born an heir, is not made one, and inherits his father’s goods without any work or merit. Meanwhile, however, the father commands and exhorts his son to be diligent in doing this or that. He promises him a reward or a gift in order that in return for it he may obey more readily and freely: “If you’re good and listen, if you study diligently, I’ll buy you a nice coat “¦” In this way the father helps his son in his weakness, although the inheritance belongs to him on other grounds.
God deals with us in this way. He coaxes us with promises of spiritual and physical things, although eternal life is freely given to those who believe in Christ as children of adoption (Statements taken from Table Talk page 240).
Why does the child get his parents’ inheritance?
What is our inheritance as God’s children?
How do we gain this inheritance?
Under what circumstances does God give rewards for our obedience?
Explain how these blessings have nothing to do with our going to heaven.
Explain: Our inheritance is free, but comes at a great cost.
No gifts, no deeds that I have done, can for single sin atone.
To Calvary alone I flee O God be merciful to me
And when, redeemed from sin and hell, with all the ransomed souls I dwell
My joyous song shall ever be: God has been merciful to me! (CW 303: 4,5)