Before I begin I want to say a couple of words by way of introduction. One of the most practical implications of the doctrine of justification is that we are not discouraged by our failure. Our failure is a revelation of mercy. The point of justification is that our verdict is secure provided we truly are children of God. So with the recognition of failure is a gracious act of mercy because it shows us that God isn’t finished conforming us to himself. The very fact that God continues to shape and mold us is an evidence that God is working in us, that we are indeed children of God. But I want to apply this today to our study.
The problem with many of us is that when our lives are measured against the ideal, we a more content to move the ideal than to face the condemnation and discouragement that comes from facing our failure. The implications of this when it comes to the gospel is that we are faced with the ideal of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 5-7 and we fail. We couldn’t even keep the lesser standard of the law. But God says, I’ve done it, I’m only asking that you receive it by faith, a faith that serves in love. Faith says, I know you’ve done this! You ask me to come to you for more grace to fight.
We will never stand in judgment with the verdict hanging over our heads. But he will look at us and say, did your lives evidence faith in my promises? Is the stamp of my grace on you?
Many in this room could be sitting here discouraged rather than encouraged by our study of Romans. You may say to yourself “I could never do what Mark is doing.” I just couldn’t read this way. Normal people don’t do what Mark does. The standard is too high, to intellectual. Bible study is just not me. What we’re asking is not perfection in the study. You’ll never be better or worse as a person based on whether you can do what Mark does. But by the grace of God, perhaps he can give you grace to fight, to try.