There are times in life when all hope seems to be gone. For those who have been studying the Epistle to the Romans with us, you may feel this way today. Studying Romans 1:18-3:18 has not been easy because it paints a picture of our hopeless condition. Each person who has ever lived is described in those pages as under God’s wrath, given over to sin’s consequences, inexcusable, unrighteous, unprofitable, and not good at all.
God’s perspective of our sinfulness is not at all what we would like it to be. We think highly of our good deeds and think that God should take notice … but he does not. He looks past the good intentions to see the real character of our hearts. We are ignorant, sinful people who do not seek him or understand what he desires.
After finding out what God knows about us, you would be right to consider your condition hopeless. According to him, there is nothing we can do to change our sinful character, or to appease his wrath. Then we come to Romans 3:19-26.
“Dark and dismal is man’s condition. This darkness and despair is unfathomable and universal. It envelops all. Then suddenly a light, the very light which previously had flickered for a brief moment, comes streaming in. Hope revives.
This light, this ray of optimism, comes not from below but from above. It is a ‘righteousness from God.’ It is he who comes to the rescue. It is he who condescends to save those who had made themselves thoroughly unworthy of being saved. And, being God, he does this—of course!—without sacrificing his righteousness or lifting the demands of his law.
…Why God did this is a mystery we shall never be able fully to understand. Such love is infinite and incomprehensible.”William Hendriksen commenting on Romans 3:21
There is hope! The darkness and fear that accompanies a true understanding of our sinfulness can be removed by believing him. God willingly accomplished what we never could have. He sent his Son Jesus to die in the place of worthless and undeserving creatures like us. Now, instead of attempting to be good enough, we are told to simply believe what God did for us through Jesus. He, the sinless Son of God, died to pay for our sins. He took our place.
Is there any hope? Yes, but that hope will never be found in ourselves; it is only found in what God has provided for us. Will you set aside any effort of your own and simply trust what God has done? That is your only hope.