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The Gift Of Righteousness Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 4, 2023 1:00 am

The Gift Of Righteousness Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 4, 2023 1:00 am

The standard God sets for us to gain eternal life is unreachable: perfection. Only His righteousness is perfect. In this message from Romans 3, Pastor Lutzer gets to the basic truth about our condition, falling short of God’s glory. But God credits Christ’s righteousness to us that we may stand before Him without guilt or shame.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. The standard God sets for us to gain eternal life is very high, so high there's no way we can ever reach it. That's why He's given a gift to every child of God in which He imparts the very purity He demands.

Stay with us as we learn all about this marvelous gift. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, will today's message speak to those who feel they've sinned too much to ever please God?

Dave, the answer to your question is a resounding yes. The issue is not really the greatness of our sin. The issue is the wonder of the righteousness which God attributes to all who savingly believe on Jesus Christ.

God demands perfection, but as you already hinted in your intro, Dave, God supplies what He demands. I've written a book entitled The Inheritance of the Redeemed, claiming the spiritual treasures that are yours in Christ, and for a gift of any amount this book can be yours. What it will do is give hope. It will help us to be optimistic and to know the wonder of the gospel. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully. This is the second in a series of messages titled The Inheritance of the Redeemed, the blessings that are ours because of our faith in Christ. If you missed the first message, which was on predestination, I encourage you to get a copy of it, to listen to it, because it is very foundational. But today's message also is so extremely critical that I personally think about this gift that I'm going to introduce to you almost every single day.

In order to understand the importance of this gift, let me ask you a question. What does God think of you today? Is He happy with you?

Is He mad at you? Because you began to read the Bible through this year and you've blown it already. We begin well and then we fail or you sin this week and you feel somewhat distant from God because life hasn't gone well and you haven't reacted well to it. What's God's opinion of you today?

Now before I introduce you to this gift, I do need to give you a little bit of background, so stay with me and then once we get to the gift, you're going to understand exactly and it's going to be as clear as Route 66. You remember, ever since the beginning, God has wanted to communicate with mankind. I mean, we're talking even about the Garden of Eden. And we're speaking about the fact that Adam and Eve sinned and they used some leaves to try to hide their nakedness and God says, no, I'm going to give you better clothes. I'm going to give you actually the skin of animals. Where did God get the skin of animals?

Well, obviously, He killed some animals. What He wanted to say right from the beginning is that there is no forgiveness, there is no covering of sin without blood, and there is no such thing as a cheap covering. And so after that, He began to connect with Adam and Eve, but everybody knows that those animals' skins were not the final covering for sin by no means.

They were only symbolic. And then you get to the time of the tabernacle and you discover that God had all of those sacrifices that we struggle to understand. And in the tabernacle, there were two compartments, the holy of holies and the holy place, and how the priest could only go into the holy place on one day a year. And God was saying, I'm everywhere, I exist everywhere, but I especially exist here because I want you to understand my holiness. Because, you see, here's the problem that God had. The problem was that He was communicating with mankind, who are sinners, and He had to have a way by which that could be done without either compromising His holiness or contaminating Himself. So in the Old Testament, He had fellowship with people. He put their sin away, but not finally. There was no payment for the sin back then.

And yet, He was connecting with people. And years ago, atheists wrote a tract in which they wanted to make fun of God. And they said, oh, look at the people of the Old Testament with whom God hung out. I mean, you know, you begin with Abraham. Well, Abraham lied, and he's called a friend of God. The argument of the atheists was simply this, that the person is judged by God, a person is judged by the company he keeps. Jacob was a cheater, and yet he was communicating with God, and God actually had him in the line through which Christ would be eventually born. I mean, you go through the Old Testament, Moses lost his temper and became very angry, and yet Moses had spoken face to face with God as a man speaks with his friend. And then the classic illustration is David, murder and adultery, quote, a man after God's own heart.

Oh, really? The atheists were saying, what kind of a God considers these kinds of people as his friends? They had a point. For 4,000 years, there was a scandal that was building, and that was God was forgiving people, and there was no final payment for their sin.

There was justice being set aside so that he could connect with them, but there was no way that they could be finally and totally redeemed. And with that background now, I want you to take your Bibles, if you would, please, and turn to the third chapter of the book of Romans, Romans chapter 3. And even as I mentioned the text, I'm glad that there is some wrestling throughout the congregation. That means you have a Bible, or you can use the one that is in the seat in front of you. And some of you, of course, there will be no wrestling, no noise, because God bless you, you've brought your phone, you've brought your iPad, you've brought your jackhammer, you have everything that you need. No matter what you're using today, I want you to look at the text.

Look at the text, at the text, put your finger on the text. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul is talking about how all of us are sinners. He begins with the pagans, and everybody says, yeah, for sure they are. Then he goes on to the Jewish people who thought that they were a cut above the pagans, and he proves that they are sinners too.

And by the time you get to chapter 3 verse 10, he says, there is none righteous, no, not one. No one understands, no one seeks for God. You say, oh, yeah, I sought God.

Yes, you did. That's why you had to listen to the previous message on predestination, because God sought you. That's why you sought God. On our own, we would never seek God.

And so he goes on through, and what he's basically saying is that we are part of a very corrupt tree. And we try to wear a mask, we try to make it look good, and we sometimes do quote good. But at the end of the day, it says in verse 18 that there is no fear of God before their eyes. In other words, we know God is watching, and we really don't care what we do. So Paul concludes here in verse 19, now we know whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world, he says, is accountable to God. And everybody comes up guilty. God is so holy, and we are so sinful, that even our good acts are tainted.

We help a woman across the street, and we can hardly wait to tell somebody how wonderful we were and what we did that day. And so he concludes for verse 20, chapter 3, by the works of the law, no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin. By the works of the law, nobody will be justified. And now Paul goes into one of the most important passages of scripture.

I wish I could comment on it phrase by phrase, but we're going to get to the basic point very quickly here. But now, verse 21, the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. Thank God it's apart from the law, because through the law there is no righteousness of God. Although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe, for there's no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that is sin, by the way.

God's standard is his glory. So how far are we able to shoot with our arrow to see if we can hit the glory of God and we constantly miss it? I've told you before the story of a man going through a farmyard, noticing on the barn all of these circles, all of these targets, and in the middle of each one an arrow. So he commended the farmer for being a good marksman. The farmer says, that wasn't done by me.

That was done from a boy from the village who isn't that bright, and what he did is he shot arrows into my barn, and then he painted the targets around them. And we aim at the glory of God and we say, I've reached it. The answer is, no, you haven't. You've reached your own target, but not God's. Now notice, and are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Now, verse 25, everyone listening to this, you may be here today as a teenager. If you're going to live the Christian life, you are going to need to understand what I'm going to tell you now and in the rest of this message. You'll notice it says in verse 25, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. I'm so excited about this message.

I'm stumbling over words today. It's another reason why you ought to have it open in front of you. Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith.

Why? This was to show God's righteousness because in his blood, he was this was to show God's righteousness because in his divine forbearance, he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time so that he may be just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. From infancy, probably, you have been told that Jesus died for sinners and he did, but that's not the first purpose of the cross. God put forth Jesus, which reminds us of the fact that salvation is of God. God put forth Jesus.

Why? To declare God's righteousness, Jesus died for sinners, but we must understand that Jesus also died for God. Jesus died for God so that God could be acquitted, acquitted I should say, he could be set free from the scandal that we've talked about. Having fellowship with Old Testament saints without a final sacrifice, it talks here about the divine forbearance of God. God says I'm going to save them on credit, I'm going to take their sins, set it aside, have fellowship with them, but a redeemer is coming who is going to pay their debt as well as the debt of all those who will eventually believe on Jesus. So Jesus died for God to vindicate God's righteousness and to legally get him off the hook and to explain. What about the Old Testament people who were saved enjoying God without a sacrifice? And you'll notice it says that God set him forth for to be the propitiation for our sins. Now that word means the turning away of God's wrath against sin.

But I don't want you to think of the Father being harsh. He's the one that demands a sacrifice and the Son is the kind one who goes to the cross. Redemption was planned by the Trinity. It is God who loved the world and therefore he gave his only begotten Son.

God, the complexity of his emotions, both as one who is just and as one who is loving. So Jesus comes and he is the propitiation for our sins. And in a message some time ago, I emphasized that this is very different than the pagans.

You can go online and people will say, oh, Christianity is just like all the other religions. They had their sacrifices too, and they did. The difference is this, that in Christianity God becomes the sacrifice. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. And so it is God who purchases the redemption. It is God who comes and vindicates God the Father, the mystery of the Trinity. Now with that background, I'd like to introduce you to the gift that is given to all who believe on Jesus, the transforming gift that will impact your ability to live the Christian life from here on out.

The gift that I am referring to is the gift of the righteousness of God. In order for us to get into that, because Paul uses that word here, and of course in the book of Romans elsewhere, I do need to refer one more time to Martin Luther and his struggle. You see, what Luther was doing was he was living in an era in which it was believed that if you did enough good works, God would see you good enough to save you.

The question was, how many good works do you have to do? He fasted until sometime people thought that he might die. Rebecca and I have been in the cell in which he was there. It's like a cell in the monastery in Erfurt, hard floor. He slept without blankets to try to mortify the flesh. He confessed his sins up to six hours at a time, but his conscience would not be silenced because you don't know how high God's standard is. You go through and you do all these confessions, and then you have to start again tomorrow because it's like mopping the door.

It's like mopping the floor with a faucet running. I mean, new sins, and maybe you forgot some of them. Despair. Then he began to teach the book of Romans.

You know the story. He gets to chapter one and it says, in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed, and he looks at the righteousness of God, and hatred against God wells up in his heart. Oh yeah, that's my problem is the righteousness of God. If he wasn't that righteous, well then maybe I could attain to his standard. But he's so righteous. Love God, said Luther, I hate him.

He's given us an impossible standard. But as Luther began to look in Romans one and then got to Romans chapter three and chapter four, he began to realize something. Righteousness is an attribute of God, but it is also a gift given to sinners. And look at what it says in chapter four regarding Abraham. This was true also in the Old Testament. Verse three, for what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham certainly wasn't righteous, but he was credited with righteousness because he believed.

Paul wants to show that what he's teaching was consistent really with the Old Testament. And then when he gets to chapter five, you'll notice that the text says here very clearly in chapter five that this is gift righteousness. Verse 16, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification for if because of one's man's trespass, death reigned through one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, there it is, ring in life through Jesus Christ. So what I'd like to do today is to give you three or four characteristics of this gift of righteousness that is legally conferred on all who believe on Jesus, so that now we can reach God's standard because God gives us what we need to do that.

Yes, well, this is Pastor Lutzer, and you've heard me say before that God demands perfection and then he supplies what he demands. If in your own heart today, you think that you have sinned too much, you've wandered too far away from God, your conscience is troubling you. I urge you to come to Christ, receive his forgiveness, yes, but also the wonderful gift of righteousness which credits us with access and acceptance before God. I've written a book entitled The Inheritance of the Redeemed, claiming the spiritual treasures that are yours in Christ. This book will bless you, it will encourage you, it's the kind of book you might also want to share with others to help them understand that salvation is much more than just simply having our sins forgiven.

It is being in fellowship with God both now and forever. Here's some contact information. You can go to, that's, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now because I believe that this resource will be of such help to you, I'm going to be giving you that contact info again, but let me tell you from my heart, thank you so much for standing with us. Because of your involvement, the ministry of running to win continues to grow. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. We are not unmindful of the many people who support this ministry. We thank God for them because as others hold our hands, the ministry increases. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. The relationship between God and Satan is on the mind of an anonymous listener who says this, I have thought that God allows Satan to act, but I have not considered that God uses Satan.

Can you expand on this? Yes, now when you stop to think of it, when we say that God allows Satan to do A, B, or C, God could choose to not allow him to do that. So even in that sense, you see that God is using the devil because ultimately the devil is under God's control. So I believe that it's important for us to see this, that if God didn't have a purpose for the devil, the devil would have been taken and confined to a far planet without any possible influence that he might have here on earth. God could have done that. So there must be a purpose for the devil. And the point that I've made, which evidently you are responding to, is that God uses evil, God uses the devil, and he does so in order to further his own purposes. Now sometimes we don't know why God allows the devil to do as much damage as he does. Certainly there's lots of mystery connected with this, but here's what I'm thinking of.

For example, Job. God used the devil in Job's life to refine him. You have, for example, Paul, his thorn in the flesh. But here's another passage that I want you to think about. Do you remember what Jesus said to Peter when Peter said, I won't deny you? Jesus said, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you as wheat, but I've prayed for you that your faith not fail.

Isn't that interesting? In order for the devil to get to Peter, Jesus had to be involved. He had to go through Jesus, and Jesus would somehow control the situation. So let's remember that God is sovereign. If the devil didn't have a purpose in God's great plan and economy, God had other options whereby he could have been removed from this earth. But here we are, and we are given the opportunity to, what shall we say, be victorious over the devil in Christ. Dearly beloved, submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he'll flee from you.

And in the process, we learn things about evil and spiritual warfare that we would not know in any other way. Some wise counsel, as always, from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Next time on Running to Win, more about Martin Luther wrestling with his need to be right with a holy God. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-04 02:50:32 / 2023-07-04 02:59:17 / 9

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