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We are so often all about performance, control of our circumstances, and our future. How we’re perceived by others and God. We have such a complicated relationship with this. Some of us feel in control, some of us feel the opposite.

A performer puts on an act. There’s a gap between who they are and how they perform. The act is to keep people from seeing the gap.

For example, do you tidy up your house before you have company? Do you clean your house before someone comes to clean it for you?

We live in a performance-saturated world – jobs, school. Not all bad things, but eventually, we will succumb to the incorrect thought that our value = our performance.

So, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re aware of the gap between how we want to be seen, how we wish we were seen, and how we actually are.

Romans 3
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given

How? Through more rule-keeping or trying harder. New rules? More rules? Or maybe it’s the opposite – running as far and as hard away from the rules? No. It’s through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.

Who are you convinced is “out?” We’d never admit it, but we know who they are.

However, there is no real difference.

Romans 3
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

How did this happen?

Romans 3
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – 26 he did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Throughout different seasons of parenting, we face different responses from our children. One might be, “But you let my brother/sister do this/watch screens/eat that/get away with that!” It forces us to consider a concept we didn’t have to think much about when there was only one kid: justice. If we don’t consider this, we get the inevitable pushback. “It’s not fair!”

That’s where we need to step in as parents and create justice. 

The same thing is true with all of us and with God. We try to define ourselves and others and use the rules. That’s also what was happening with the Jews and Gentiles.

And just like with kids, it takes a third party with power to step in and create (define) justice. But just like with kids, it’s not justice on our terms; it’s their terms, it’s God’s terms.

Justification is a Greek legal term. It means to be declared in right standing. God doesn’t just declare us innocent, He declares us righteous. On what basis? Our performance? Our lack of performance? Or how we compare to the performance of others?

No. On His authority – as righteous and holy – God.

But remember, there’s still an issue in all our sins, and that’s our inability to not break the rules. God is perfect, and He’s perfectly just. That justice can’t be ignored. There’s a debt that must be paid.

Responsibility is neither created nor destroyed. It’s merely moved around.

Think about what happens when you leave dirty dishes in the sink. Ultimately, someone else has to come along and take care of that.

When we sin, it always creates a ripple effect that ends up in someone else's life. Even when we think it’s just between ourselves and ourselves. We are giving someone else a weight to carry, breaking our relationship with God. Wrongdoing always creates a rift in a relationship.

So, what’s the result of this ripple effect? We can own it, apologize, or make a restitution, but the effects remain. We can’t save ourselves; we can’t even save others for ourselves.

Atonement literally means the payment of a debt. What Jesus does for us is set us free. He paid our debt when we couldn’t.

Romans
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, taking our debt on Himself. When Jesus died on the cross for us, He was finishing what we could not, paying for what we could not. So how do we receive this? Our performance? Our rule-keeping? How we stack up against others?

No, faith. Trust proven by action.

So now, if you have received Jesus, you are free. But you’re not just free from something, you’re free for living for something higher. You're not living to perform or establish your value in a world constantly telling you that.

What if today was your big turnaround?

Death to life. The chains of life define debt to freedom. Free from, free for.

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