A Liberating Hope: Freedom from Our Failures

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On their own, no person can successfully achieve the lofty standard of perfect righteousness. James 2:10 teaches, “Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” There is no room for error. A single sin permanently prevents a person from being holy through his own deeds, and Romans 3:23 teaches that every person has sinned: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Moreover, failure to be holy results in death. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death.” Not only will we die physically, but we will die spiritually. Revelation 20:12–15 describes this death as a second death in which a person is eternally separated from having a right relationship with God and from fulfilling their purpose for existence:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Fortunately, Romans 6:23 doesn’t conclude with the statement, “For the wages of sin is death.” If it did, we could only despair because every one of us has sinned. But there is hope. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (emphasis added). This free gift is forgiveness from our sins, and it is made possible through the ministry of Jesus Christ who, having lived a sinless life, paid the penalty of our sin with His own life. John 3:16–18 says:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Jesus is God’s means of fixing our broken relationship with Him and forgiving our sin. Because Jesus lived a sinless life, He did not have to die. Yet, His love for humanity was so great that He chose to die a horrific death on a cross for any who would accept His sacrifice. However, being God, death could not hold Him, and He rose from the dead three days later. As such, He stands before His Father as an advocate for any who are willing to repent—which is a turning away from sinful behavior—and accept God’s charge to live holy lives. Of course, until God redeems His creation and removes the curse of sin, we will continue to struggle with our sinful nature and its desires, but God promises to give us the strength to overcome any and every temptation. And He promises to continue to forgive our failures if we seek His forgiveness.

Understanding this, Romans 10:9–13 teaches us how to accept this free gift of God:

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Anyone who believes that Jesus is God, that He died as a substitute for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead can ask God for forgiveness and commit to living a life that aligns itself with God’s holy character and behavior. And anyone who does this will receive God’s forgiveness and salvation from sin. As Romans 3:23–25 says, “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.”

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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