But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known ... Romans 3:21
Someone observed that if the prodigal son in Jesus' parable (see Luke 15:11-24) had lived frugally while he was in the far country, he would never have come to his senses and returned home. It was because the son became desperate--"he longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating"--that he returned home.
It is necessary for each of us to see that we are like the prodigal son, spent and desperate, and that we must return "home." But this desperation is not always grasped, especially not when financial well-being and moral responsibility hide our true predicament.
The apostle Paul makes clear that there is no difference between the prodigal son who squandered his life in wild living and the person who preaches or teaches in our church. He says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We are all like people on a sinking ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; not one us can swim to shore, not even the very best swimmers among us. Our situation is desperate.
"But now ..." says the apostle--delivering two of the most wonderful words in the whole of Scripture--what we cannot do for ourselves God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We receive "righteousness from God" through Christ. Jesus is the one and only Savior, the strong swimmer who can bring us to shore.
Lord Jesus, help us to see that we are lost and desperate. We need to place all of our trust in you. Take hold of us, we pray, and never let us go. In your name we pray. Amen.
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