“For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:22-25 ESV)
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:6-9 ESV)
There is no distinction among the wicked.
We were all so very different. We came from different families, different nations, different upbringings. Some of us were brought up in Christian homes while others were brought up in godless families. Some of us felt the weight of our sin like a ton of bricks, while others naively walked through life unaware of our great offense against the Lord. Some of us wallowed in the very pit of sinful immorality, while others dallied in the deserts of self worship. Our lives were so very, very different; each of them unique in their relationship to the world around them.
Yet, to One we were all the same. It didn’t matter if we had divorced a spouse, if we had hurt people we loved, if we had worshipped other gods, if we had engaged in sexual immorality, or even if we had lived a good life according to the world’s standards. In his eyes, every one of us suffered from the same exact sickness and we were all running toward the same exact fate. In different ways, at different times, we each chose to reject him.
You see, the gospel of grace demolishes our differences. It is true that you may have struggled with weightier sins than other sisters in Christ ever dreamed of. It is also true that you may have lived a more moral life than many around you. But the most incredible truth is that each of us were just as sinful as the other. Each of us had fallen short of the glory of God and were headed to a hopeless eternity.
In his eyes we were all equally lost in our wickedness and in desperate need of mercy.
His mercy was shed upon each of us. It was carried by the same precious blood of the Savior from the cross down onto our sinful souls. No matter how sinful or moral you feel you were, God sacrificed his beloved son for you. You needed the death of the Christ to be reunited to the Holy God; without it, you were destined for an eternity of Hell.
There is no distinction among the redeemed.
If you have partaken of the miraculous gift of salvation, your redemption is sealed. Your past has been forgiven, no matter how dark it was, and your future is now bound to the living Christ. Your sins (past and future) were thrust upon Jesus as he died in agony upon the cross and you were raised to newness of life with him. You cannot attain a better standing than you have now, because Christ stands before the Holy God on your behalf and it doesn’t get any better than that.
There are some of you who struggle to feel worthy of God’s love and forgiveness. You think about all of the things you have done and the people you have hurt and you don’t see how a Holy God could pass over such offenses. You know that through Jesus, even the worst offender can be forgiven and yet you struggle to feel the weight of guilt and shame lifted from your weak frame.
It is good to see your offenses as great against the Lord, for they truly are, and yet, it is also dangerous to hold on to guilt and shame that has already been paid for. Indeed, your sins, every one of them, have been completely forgiven. God does not count them against you, but instead counts Jesus’ perfect, righteous life as yours! What an incredible truth! It has often been said that the term “justified” means “just as if I never sinned,” but many theologians have added the phrase “…and lived Christ’s righteous life” in order to remind us that the justification we receive as Christians is twofold. Not only are our sins washed away through the precious blood, but we are given the righteous life of Christ.
Rather than let your sinful past haunt you, as though God could at any moment reach for it and rub it in your face, take hold of the complete and wonderful forgiveness that is yours in Christ Jesus. Allow the freedom of grace to draw you closer to the Living God and fuel your fellowship with him. You have been forgiven. You are justified. Shame and guilt have no place in your relationship with God; thanks be to Christ!
There are others of you who’s struggle is in feeling better than your sisters in Christ. You feel as though you were more worthy of salvation than they, but in reality you were given the same gift that they were; the same unmerited salvation. No matter how “good” you were in your own eyes, you were infinitely “not good enough” for the Holy God. He, out of sheer delight and love, reached down and blessed you with the purifying blood of his son. It is the cost of the sacrifice that determines the weight of your sin, and the cost could not have been higher. Don’t allow any unrealistic, and sinful pride keep you from enjoying the depths of God’s grace. His blood was just as precious and needful for your damned soul as it was for the vilest offender. He willingly shed that blood for you, not because you pleased him, but because graciously saving your poor, wretched soul pleased him.
Thanks be to Christ that you too are now standing in holiness before the throne of God with your Savior and fellow redeemed sinners. He could have easily left you in your self-righteous stupor walking the moral road to Hell, and yet he chose to set his love upon you. He chose to pluck you from the mass of humanity, remove the scales from your eyes, and reveal his heavenly kingdom to you. You stand before him now as a redeemed, and holy saint not because of your own deeds or worthiness but because of Christ’s deeds and worthiness. Let this truth produce the greatest of joy and appreciation in your heart and life. Let it teach you to rely fully on your Savior rather than your own abilities. You will only disappoint yourself, but Christ can only impress you with his power and desire to sanctify you.
Grace demolishes our perceived differences.
It is this truth of grace that gives us within the church such sweet fellowship. How can we not love one another, when Christ our Savior purposefully set his love on each of us? How can there be any room for pride where we have all received the same marvelous salvation? We have the extreme privilege of experiencing the unexplainable riches of God’s grace together as a people, each of us equally in need of his love and mercy. There is much to be said about how God deals specifically with each of us in particular ways (ways most suited to our individual natures) and yet God himself does not change as he ministers from person to person. We all, as his redeemed people, enter into a fellowship of salvation that binds us together under Christ our head.
We as the church, live under the shadow of his grace and it defines who we are for all of eternity.