I've been working through Romans 3v9-20, in preparation for a Bible study that I will be leading at church next week. It has served as an incredible reminder of how utterly sinful I am. Thinking on it each evening has thoroughly condemned me, as each evening I realise how I have failed to glorify God's name. Each day I have dragged Christ's beautiful name through the mud. I have willfully and deliberately shown unkindness, malice, envy, lack of love, unadvised speech, hasty temper and a great multitude of more sins which mean that His name is not honoured in my life as it should be. And each night I must whisper my confession and contrition, before the God who holds me accountable.
This I believe is Paul's purpose in writing this part of the passage. Each word another blow that drives right to the heart of my cockiness, my self-surety, my sinful belief that I may be justified in God's sight because of my works. For, none is righteous, no, not one, not even you Beckie, however much you may think you are.
How my heart aches, and I think this is what Paul wants us to be, before he reminds us, with that glorious "But" in verse 21. For if we do not recognise our utter hopelessness to be right with God, then the gospel loses its power. If we can be saved another way, if we can be right with God on our own, then the death of Christ means nothing, it really was, just a carpenter dying for annoying the religious authorities of the day. But knowing that there is no way that mankind can be saved, that there is no way that I can be right with God, then I am desperate, I am alone, I am dependent.
Thank God for that "but" - that I can be right with God, apart from my works. My works that should condemn me are cast aside, and the pure, spotless, glorious perfection of Christ is seen in all its power. But that's another week, and another study. For now I remember my sinfullness, and look forward to my salvation.