From Sin To Salvation

Apr 23, 2024 | Faith, Harold Sala

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From the beginning of time, people have looked into the heavens, knowing that God was there, wondering what must be done to please Him. Actually, most pagan cultures think that God is angry and that something must be sacrificed—even their children or another person—to satisfy the anger of God.

Seemingly, there has been a universal belief that something stands between us and God, something which the Bible describes as sin.

Writing to men and women in Rome, a mixture of Jews and Gentiles, Paul addresses this whole issue. He does so with clarity and power. He begins by asserting that God alone is righteous. The word upright is close to the meaning of the word but still insufficient to fully describe what it means. But whatever it is, humankind doesn’t have it. What to do to acquire it or to establish a relationship with God is what sets Christianity apart from the religions of the world.

She stands there, wondering what to put back, what to do, when a man, noticing her dilemma, says, “No problem! Put all of her groceries on my bill. I’ll take care of it.” That’s the Good News.

Today, if you go to the doctor and he finds something wrong, he usually will give you the good news first, like, “You’re going to be OK—that’s the good news, but the bad news is you have to have surgery.” When Paul wrote to the Romans, he started with the bad news and gave it to them straight. Then he gave them the good news. Why the bad news first? You need to know how bad things are to appreciate how good is the Good News—the solution to human failure.

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. — Romans 3:23-24

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he puts the whole world on trial before God, just as a prosecutor would do in a courtroom. From a Jewish perspective, the world was divided into Jews and non-Jews or Gentiles. Paul begins with Gentiles. He charges that nature embodied God’s power and qualities, yet humankind turned its back on God. They neither glorified God nor were grateful to Him for His blessings. Paul notes three steps in putting their backs to God. First, they ignored Him. Then, they imitated Him, worshiping idols and animals. Then, they insulted God through their sexual license. Three times, Paul says God gave them over to their depravity.

No, says Paul, the Gentiles stand condemned before God. But he doesn’t stop there. He examines the moralist who shakes his finger at others, saying, “Shame, shame,” while they are just as guilty. Then, he takes on Jews, those to whom God has revealed Himself through the Law. Picture Moses coming down from Sinai, the Ten Commandments under his arm—a code that became a standard for human conduct. Then Paul goes to the bottom line of his argument and concludes, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understand, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

If we stopped there, it would be a very dismal picture, but from his pessimistic assessment of human nature and failure, Paul takes the next step, which is how God can cancel out human failure—the same failure that we experience in broken marriages, failed promises, dishonesty and deceit and a host of other moral and spiritual failures.  He calls that “justification.”  And what does it mean?

Picture a mother of four children who has no husband, who painstakingly fills her grocery cart with food, trying not to have more in the basket than she has money for, but when the cashier rings up the items, it is more than she has.  She stands there, wondering what to put back, what to do, when a man, noticing her dilemma, says, “No problem! Put all of her groceries on my bill. I’ll take care of it.” That’s the Good News.

Resource reading:  Romans 2-3

Speaker, author, and Bible teacher Dr. Harold Sala founded Guidelines in 1963. Pioneering the five-minute commentary on Christian radio, Dr. Sala’s daily “ Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living ” is broadcast in 49 of the 50 states and is heard the world over in a variety of languages.

Sala, who holds a Ph.D. in biblical text, has authored over 60 books published in 19 languages. He speaks and teaches frequently at conferences, seminars, and churches worldwide. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

You can read more of Dr. Sala’s articles HERE!

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