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God's Game-Changing Answer

Psalm 85:8-10

God’s answer gives you his peace

‘I grew up in an atmosphere of strife,’ writes Joyce Meyer, ‘and that was all I ever knew. I had to learn an entirely new way of living. Now I am addicted to peace. As soon as my peace disappears, I ask myself how I lost it and start looking for ways to get it back.’

God has promised ‘peace’ (v.8) to his people. This does not necessarily mean outward peace. The pressures, difficulties, trials, battles and busyness may not disappear. But in all this, God has promised to give you his peace. This peace comes from listening to what ‘God the Lord’ says (v.8).

Peace is very closely connected with righteousness. The psalmist says, ‘righteousness and peace kiss each other’ (v.10b). In the same way that love and faithfulness go together (v.10a), so do righteousness and peace. Peace comes from living in a right relationship with God (Romans 5:1).

God, thank you that you make it possible for me to walk in a right relationship with you and to enjoy the peace that follows.

Romans 3:9–10,21–22a,23–25a

God’s answer is a gift you receive

We long for peace. We long to be in a right relationship with God and with other people. But how do you receive this ‘righteousness from God’?

Paul continues his argument that no one is righteous on their own. ‘There's nobody living right, not even one’ (v.10b, MSG). ‘They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys’ (v.12, MSG). Righteousness is the way to peace, but the reality is that ‘the way of peace they do not know’ (v.17).

Paul concludes his argument in this section: ‘And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else?’ (v.20, MSG). The two little words that follow are of huge significance: ‘But now…’ (v.21).

Having set out the problem, Paul now moves on to describe God’s game-changing answer – ‘a righteousness from God’ (v.21). This righteousness from God cannot be achieved through the law because no one (apart from Jesus) has ever kept the entire law. The Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets) testifies about this and points towards God’s answer (v.21).

‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (v.22). This righteousness from God cannot be earned. It is a pure gift that you receive ‘through faith in Jesus Christ’. It is a gift ‘to all who believe’ (v.22).

Paul then uses three images to describe what Jesus’ death on the cross has achieved. Each is like a facet of a diamond. Each image is connected with the others:

  1. The penalty of sin has been paid Justification is an expression from the law court. We ‘are justifiedfreely by his grace’ (v.24). God is a just judge. He could not ignore our guilt.

  2. The power of sin has been broken The second image Paul uses comes from the market-place: ‘through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’ (v.24).

  3. The pollution of sin has been removed Paul’s third image in this passage comes from the temple. ‘God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood’ (Romans 3:25).

Lord, how can I ever thank you enough for the gift of ‘the righteousness from God’ by faith in Jesus? Thank you that as a result of your righteousness I can receive peace, forgiveness, freedom and cleansing through the blood of Jesus.

Amos 3:1–2,7,11, 4:6

God’s answer challenges us to right living

Paul tells us that God’s game-changing answer – ‘a righteousness from God’ is something about which ‘the Law and the Prophets testify’ (Romans 3:21). Amos is one of those prophets.

As Amos turned to speak the word of the Lord against Israel, we see God’s desire for righteousness in that all their sins are punished. The Lord said, ‘Out of all the families on earth, I picked you. Therefore, because of your special calling, I’m holding you responsible for all your sins’ (Amos 3:2, MSG).

The people are condemned in what is almost a law court: ‘“Hear this and testify against the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord’ (v.13).

It is as if God calls witnesses to testify against his own people: ‘You women! Mean to the poor, cruel to the down-and-out! Indolent and pampered, you demand of your husbands, “Bring us a tall, cool drink!”’ (4:1, MSG). They are condemned for their superficiality, self-centred indulgence and their treatment of the poor and needy.

Over and over again, God speaks to his people in an attempt to draw them back to him: ‘The fact is, God, the Master, does nothing without first telling his prophets the whole story’ (3:7, MSG). ‘Yet,’ he declares, ‘you have not returned to me’ (4:6,8–11).

When we understand this Old Testament background, it makes it all the more staggering that the apostle Paul writes, ‘This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe’ (Romans 3:22). God’s game changer is that Jesus has paid the penalty for you; you are righteous in God’s eyes, you can approach him with confidence today. Speak to him as your loving Father and know his peace deep in your heart.

Lord, thank you that your desire is always that we return to you and walk in a right relationship with you. Thank you that you have now made that possible through Jesus.

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