I personally know someone who had a heart attack and thought they had died and gone to heaven. They described their temporary new existence as utopia—all peaceful and full of light. Suddenly, they were literally shocked back into reality by the use of a defibrillator. The first emotion they felt was not gratitude but anger. “Why?” I asked. This person felt they had been yanked back from heaven to hell. If they had the wherewithal, they would have smacked the EMT’s for their intervention. The question could be asked, were the paramedics interfering or doing their job? It depends on the perspective.
In today’s society, offending someone is easy. Labels are prevalent for classifying haters—sexist, misogynist, chauvinist, etc. Obviously, those are merely judgmental terms to put people into disreputable categories. Never mind that such labels are also judgmental and, therefore, hateful terms.
In my last blog, Is Political Correctness A Disguise For The Truth?, I ended the discussion with we are all in the same boat. That is the apostle Paul’s summation in Romans two, not mine. Paul is crystal clear in chapter two, that we are all decadent, sinful, immoral, condemned by the ten commandments as law breakers. Paul specifically calls out his brethren, the Jews, who are zealous for the law. He says, the Jews teach that we are to obey the law, but they are, themselves, lawbreakers. Do you see Paul’s point? Whether we are religious or irreligious it doesn’t matter! Sometimes, we do wrong; and, we are all guilty of wrongdoing.
In chapter three, there’s no advantage to one’s ethnicity or religious persuasion. In other words, Paul goes out of his way to make this point, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS! NO, NOT ONE!” He even risks alienating himself from the Church by saying the law merely tells us how sinful we are and has nothing AT ALL to do with righteousness (Romans 3:20, 21)! Paul does the unthinkable, he separates law from righteousness. In his day, this could get a person stoned—and Paul was—several times. Miraculously, he survived, repeatedly, for expressing an unpopular opinion. Chapter three ends with righteousness is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The law is said to have nothing to do with righteousness by faith, but it leaves us wondering what is the function of the law (and Paul will clarify this in chapter seven).
Chapter four reiterates that we are only justified by faith IN Jesus Christ. I capitalized the pronoun, in, because in Christ, a term for Paul, means far more than we could possibly imagine. Christians typically think of it as substitutionary, but the meaning is far more inclusive, as we will learn later. Paul wants everyone to realize that they already have God’s approval through faith alone.
In chapter five, he continues discussing the benefits of being justified through Christ, contrasting what we received through being a son of Adam. Because of Adam, we are all sinners, condemned, judged, and then death follows. In Christ, we receive grace (undeserved favor), justification (free from guilt or any penalty for wrongdoing), righteousness (as though I had never sinned), and NEVER ENDING life (as opposed to death). The last parentheses in chapter five explains the ENTIRE function of law—it is to increase (v. 20) sinfulness (increase guilt).
I asked the question in the beginning, is it my role to offend or save you. The answer is simple—neither! Because I am human, I will offend you at times, and that is the beauty of Christ—grace, forgiveness, and love. Equally, it is not my role to save you, because I am not your savior. ONLY JESUS SAVES!