Sermon from 31st Oct 2021 (Reformation)

Romans 3:19-28 (EHV) 

19 Now we know that whatever the law says is addressed to those who are under the law, so that every mouth will be silenced and the whole world will be subject to God’s judgment. 20 For this reason, no one will be declared righteous in his sight by works of the law, for through the law we become aware of sin.

21 But now, completely apart from the law, a righteousness from God has been made known. The Law and the Prophets testify to it. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all and over all who believe.

In fact, there is no difference, 23 because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God publicly displayed as the atonement seat through faith in his blood. God did this to demonstrate his justice, since, in his divine restraint, he had left the sins that were committed earlier unpunished. 26 He did this to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so that he would be both just and the one who justifies the person who has faith in Jesus.

27 What happens to boasting then? It has been eliminated. By what principle—by the principle of works? No, but by the principle of faith. 28 For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without the works of the law.

Dear heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so that we may not try to seek your approval by what we do, but trust that through the perfectly completed work of Jesus Christ, we have been made right with you. Amen.

I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear, but I want you to listen anyway.

When you hear what I’m about to say, you may react, so I want you to note carefully how you react. Take note of what you think, including wanting to argue with me about what I say.

Take note of your body language, such as a stiffening of your body because you don’t like what you hear. Or if tears well in your eyes because it’s a truth you can relate to. Or even if it’s a growing redness to your face in anger.

Take note of how you’re affected by what I tell you. But, however it affects you, please don’t walk out, because I need to tell you something else a little later, which is just as important for you to hear.

Are you ready?

Oh, and before I do, I want you to know what I say is the truth. I’m not lying or making it up. I’m not trying to be clever or argumentative, but I’m telling you something Scripture holds to be true but none of you want to hear.

Ok, are you ready?

And I want you to be ready because this is really important to get right. In fact, you may even like to write down what I’m about to say. I know it’s only four words, but if you get this right, you’ll get to understand more fully what I’m going to say a little later.

Now, are you ready? Ok…

…you’re not good enough!

To make this point clear: You’re not good enough for God. You’re not good enough for the person next to you. You’re not good enough for your husband or wife. You’re not good enough for your parents. You’re not good enough for your children. You’re not good enough for your friends. You’re not good enough for your government. You’re not good enough for your pastor, and your pastor isn’t good enough for you.

Do you get it? You’re not good enough! And you never will be!

In fact, just to make sure you’ve got this right, repeat after me:

I’m not good enough!

This is the truth revealed through the whole of Scripture. The Bible is a listing of people who aren’t good enough.

Adam and Eve? Made in the image of God, but they wanted to be like God.

Noah? Good boat builder, but too easily tempted by wine.

Abraham? Faithful, but made out his wife was his sister.

Jacob? Father of the tribes of Israel, but a trickster.

King David? Faithful, but got in trouble flirting with a neighbour.

Peter? Bold speaker, but denied Jesus three times.

Do you see a pattern here? The people of God keep stuffing up! Even God’s favourites kept getting it wrong! They can’t help it. They’re genetically flawed to fail because of their innate selfishness, greed, lust, and fears.

And, if they’re not good enough, even though they were specially chosen by God to be part of his opening act before the headline act arrived in Jesus, what makes you think you’re any better? You’re not good enough either!

There’s only One who’s good enough, and it isn’t you! Don’t worry, it isn’t me either. I don’t care how great or awful you think I am. I’m not good enough either. I too get in trouble no matter how much I try to do the right thing, and I let people down.

As St Paul clearly says, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (v23). If you and I are falling short, doesn’t this mean we’re not good enough? Doesn’t it mean we’re not always going to do the right thing? Doesn’t this mean we’re going to let God, and each other, down, no matter how hard we try not to?

But may ask, why do we need to know this? How is this supposed to help us?

Well, you and I spend a lot of time and energy trying to be good enough. We want to do the right thing and we don’t want to get in trouble. When anyone tries to point out we’re not good enough, we spend even more time and energy arguing we are good enough by making excuses, justifying ourselves, or denying what we’re accused of. We also spend a lot of time and energy criticising others because we reckon they’re not good enough.

It’s like we spend the whole of our life trying to deny this biblical truth! But, if we accept you and I aren’t good enough, and we expect no one else will be good enough, we’ll spend a lot less time and energy on trying to make ourselves, or expecting anyone else, to be good enough. We’ll learn to accept ourselves and those around us, despite their flaws and failures. We’ll also learn to accept, and pass on, the grace Jesus offers us.

So, I want you to get this right: you and I aren’t good enough! By ourselves, we’ll never be good enough, so let’s stop making out we’re any good or fooling ourselves we’ll ever be good enough, but accept this truth. Being a Christian is never about being good enough.

So, did you take note how this truth affects you?

Do you feel angry or upset? Do you want to disagree with what I said because you think you are good enough? Although, if this is the case, you don’t need to argue with me. I’m only passing on what God tells you in his Word. Have it out with God. But, if you do, I’ll give you a hint…God will always have the last word, so don’t be surprised if you lose the argument!

On the other hand, do you feel depressed, or discouraged? Did I touch a sensitive spot because you already have a low opinion of yourself and are worried you’re not good enough? Does this deflate your pride or self-esteem?

Do you feel uncomfortable because I said something that isn’t politically correct, after all, we live in an age where we’re not allowed to say anything negative about anyone, no matter how true it is. If this bothers you, are you tempted to excuse yourself, blame your upbringing or genetics or culture, or simply deny this truth?

Or did you feel some strange sense of relief knowing you’ll always fall short of God’s expectations and therefore no longer feel the pressure to be good enough or smart enough or successful enough or pretty enough?

Anyway, no matter what your reaction, would you like to hear some good news?

Well, like before, what I’m about to tell you is important and I want you to note your reaction to what I say, whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Are you ready?

Oh, and before I do, I want you to know what I say is the truth. I’m not lying or making it up. I’m not trying to make you feel better because I feel sorry for you, but I’m telling you something Scripture holds to be true which you all need to hear.

Ok, are you ready?

And I want you to be ready because this is really important to get right. In fact, you may like to write this down as well. Like before, I know it’s only four words, but if you get this right, you’ll have peace with God now and for an eternity.

Now, are you ready? Ok…

…Jesus is good enough!

Why do you need to know Jesus is good enough?

Because trusting Jesus’ perfect obedience, and his fully completed suffering, death, and resurrection for you is the basis for all your forgiveness, hope, peace, and life with God and everyone around you.

When you trust Jesus is good enough, he gives you his goodness and righteousness and holiness as a gift without you ever deserving it. This means you’re at peace with God, after all, as St Paul says: you ‘are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (v24).

You see, yours and my salvation is not about being ‘good enough’. It never was and never will be. Or, as St Paul puts it, you and I aren’t saved through keeping the law or through our attempts at good works.

Our forgiveness, life, and salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ, who is good enough.

This is the truth which changed Martin Luther’s life who didn’t think he was good enough. This is the truth which led Luther to question his church about buying or earning forgiveness. This is the truth which captured the hearts of many people as the Reformation spread like wildfire across the world about 500 years ago.

This is the truth people still need to hear and believe so we can all receive true peace and hope and life, especially in a time and culture where there’s so much pressure on us being ‘good enough’.

The radical and life-changing message of the bible is that you and I aren’t good enough, but through faith in Jesus Christ alone, you and I receive his goodness and innocence, and so we’re made good enough in God’s sight.

When we get this right – that is, when we believe we’re not good enough, but we trust Jesus is good enough, we can receive true peace and comfort.

But like Luther, this has an impact on how you live here and now because, as Christians, this means your relationships with each other also isn’t to be based on whether you, or they, are good enough for each other either. The Christian church is full of people who aren’t good enough, but it’s also full of people who have been made good enough through their faith in Jesus.

Because of the grace of Christ, which you receive through faith, you can love and forgive each other because God loves and forgives you first.

In fact, you can boldly say ‘I’m not good enough’ and it shouldn’t bother you, because you’re convinced that, no matter how imperfect, incompetent, useless, troublesome, or sinful you may be, God still loves you and covers you with the goodness and righteousness of Jesus.

You can also accept and forgive all those people around you because they’re not good enough either. You’re able to love, forgive, and serve them, not because they’re good enough, but because Jesus is good enough and because Jesus loves, forgives and serves them anyway.

Only Jesus Christ is good enough. He alone fulfilled the whole law for you and he did this for you because he knows you’re not ‘good enough’ and you never will be.

He took all your sin into himself on the cross. Which meant that he became the guilty One; he became the One not good enough – for you and me. And then he gave the results of his perfect obedience, suffering, and death to you and me as a free gift, which is received through faith.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you and I have well and truly fallen short of God’s glory, and there’s nothing you and I can do about it! Yet God’s glory and righteousness is given to us as a free and undeserving gift through faith in Jesus Christ.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we can boldly and truthfully say these two simple truths: “I’m not good enough, but I know, and trust, Jesus is good enough”, and this faith frees us from any of the Law’s demands, from any unfair expectations, and from any troubled conscience.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, you’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Only he is good enough, and he chose to be obedient to death on the cross for you and me so we may be free of the condemnation of the Law and from all our vain attempts to be good enough. He did this so we may live in peace with God into eternal life. He did this so that…

…the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus – the One who is good enough. Amen.