Do you feel righteous?
I guess that is kind of a silly question really, in that probably the only people who feel very righteous are the self-righteous and most of us don’t want to be that. The truth is for many of us, as we study God’s Word and we hear good preaching, we look at our own live and it seems sometimes like we are constantly failing.
We’ve got the out and out sins in our lives that is for sure, but and I think this might be worse, even when we try to do the right thing, if we look very long at the way we went about doing it, our motives in doing it, it can be honestly overwhelming.
The word of God tells us we are sinners, our own hearts tell us we are sinners, our daily experience demonstrates we are sinners, and we’ve got other people in our lives telling us we are sinners.
Which is part of why most of us don’t feel very righteous.
We are not.
As righteous as we want to be. It is not just that we sinned before we were saved. It is that we sin after we are saved. And when you know, when you are repeatedly confronted with that reality it can be fairly discouraging.
In fact, it can move pretty quickly past discouragement to despair.
I am not talking about being humbled or convicted or even grieving over sin. I am talking about grief and sorrow over sin morphing into something much more sinister – discouragement, despair and self-pity. Being filled with fear, doubt and anxiety about one’s relationship with God Looking at yourself and feeling so unworthy that you almost begin to feel sorry for yourself. Coming to the point where you kind of as John Piper puts it, just end up “moseying through life, continually staring at the ground in front of us, never feeling any passion for anything, always anxious about the future, feeling inadequate, insecure, discouraged, despairing.”
That kind of attitude is a problem.
It is a spiritual problem if you do not see the seriousness of your sin, no question about that. But it is also a spiritual problem if you are not convinced God is happy with you.
It is a problem because it is difficult to obey many of the commands in the New Testament without it.
Like, draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.
It is a pretty big deal that you are convinced with a firm conviction of God’s kind and gracious attitude towards you; which is why I want us to look together at Romans 8:34 over the next several days where Paul makes resoundingly clear the reasons why great sinners who have been united to Christ through faith do not need to despair over their sin.
“Who is there to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, more than that, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
There are some who are not concerned about their sin because they think they are good people.
He was a man who was the self-proclaimed chief of sinners.
And the hope Paul offers those who feel their own unrighteousness is not some sort of positive feel good self-esteem type message.
If you take the time to read the beginning of Romans you will find in fact just the opposite.
He makes it clear that we are much worse than we actually think we are. “There is none good, no not one.”
There are others who are not concerned about their sin because they think God doesn’t care.
Paul knew God to be the perfectly holy Judge who will not let one sin go unpunished. He Himself writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.”
Yet even still this great sinner stands in the presence of a most Holy God and says without hesitation,
I know I will not be condemned.
That’s the idea behind the question, “Who is there to condemn?” It might sound at first as if Paul were wondering. But this is not so much of a question really as it is a declaration. It is as if Paul is standing in the throne room of God on judgment day, before the Holy, all knowing, all powerful judge of the universe. And as he stands before the Almighty all knowing Judge of the Universe, he is looking about him confidently crying out, ‘Who is there, who is there in this entire universe, who will step forward now and say I am worthy of being punished?’”
Which is really a remarkable thing to say, especially in light of who the apostle Paul is and who he knew God to be.
We look at who Paul was, a former persecutor of the church, a man who threw women and children into prison for believing in Christ, whose whole being at one time was literally filled with hate for those who were following Christ.
We look at who God is, a God whose eyes are too pure to look on evil, who is everywhere and sees everything, and knows everything.
And we look at what Paul says, not denying his sinfulness or God’s holiness, yet this Paul standing before this God, so assured of God’s acceptance that he can ask this question, who is there to condemn?
And we find ourselves asking, how can this be? How could Paul be so confident about his relationship with God?
Understanding the answer to that question is the key to understand why you if you are a believer do not have to despair over your sin.