We've Got a God Problem

As living and breathing human beings we have a God problem!  Whether we admit it or not, our problem is with the holy and righteous character of God.  That’s right, God’s holiness puts us in a dilemma!

When looking to God’s holy will and character, as expressed in His Law, we find ourselves out of our league.  We cannot manage God’s standard of perfection, nor attain it, for we are finite human beings full of original sin.  Here is where the problem gets worse!  When we find ourselves believing that we are somewhat compatible and in sync with the character of God we actually deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  For when we try to elevate our moral standing upward toward God we casually minimize our sin.  By doing this we actually make God out to be a liar (1 John 1:8 & 10).  No matter how hard we try or how much we try to convince ourselves, we will never be compatible or meet up to the holy, good and perfect righteousness of God.  We also deceive ourselves and commit idolatry (Exodus 20:4) when we try to diminish God’s perfection or ‘water down’ (i.e. bring down) God’s holiness so that God’s character becomes compatible and in sync with our character.  Either way we have a God problem.  If we try to elevate our moral standing and erase the reality of our sinfulness we go contrary to what God says about us, thus making Him out to be a liar.  If we try to decrease God’s moral perfection to meet our moral standing we actually make a ‘different’ God and commit idolatry.  Either way we have a very big problem with God’s character of righteous holiness.

The Apostle Paul comments on this in Romans 8:7-8 in saying, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  What Paul is saying is that our flesh has a cavernous ingrained hostility against the God of the revealed scripture.  The reason being, our sinful flesh stands condemned in comparison to the divine holiness of God.  Furthermore, our sinful nature is disgusted at the thought of God’s gift of unmerited grace because our sinful nature wants to accomplish righteousness apart from this imputed favor.  If we think we still have a chance of rescuing ourselves let us contemplate C.O. Rosenius’ comments on Romans 8:7.  He states, “The darkness in his heart prevents him from seeing that he is an enemy of God, even though he may claim to love God.  This is because he conceives of a different God in his imagination than the true God of the Scriptures.[1] 

Michael Horton once said, “Our real crisis is the righteousness ‘of’ God, but our real solution is the righteousness ‘from’ God.[2]  The very thing that threatens us, condemns us and exposes our sin (i.e. the righteousness of God) is also the very thing that comforts us, frees us and grants us assurance (i.e. the righteousness from God).  In Galatians 4:4 we read, “…God sent forth His Son born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”  The very perfect, holy and righteous law that condemns us is the very law that Jesus was born under; so that by His righteousness He might fulfill it on our behalf.  Jesus’ active obedience completely met up to the standard of God’s holy and perfect will.  In fact, God proclaims to Jesus at His baptism and at the Mount of Transfiguration saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased![3]  Not only did Jesus fulfill God’s holy law but God was extremely ‘pleased’ with Him.  Jesus’ mission towards us was one to rescue us from the wrath of God by taking our sin upon himself and giving us His righteousness, so that God might be pleased with us on His behalf (see Romans 5:9-10).  That is why Paul says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Notice that Paul does ‘not’ say, “There is therefore now no ‘sin’ for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We are saved from God’s condemnation because our solution to the righteousness ‘of’ God is the righteousness ‘from’ God; a righteousness revealed and given to us as ‘gift’ in the person and work of Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).  We are condemned by the Law of God but we are made right with God because of Christ’s faithfulness. 

In Christ, we are not condemned by the law.  In Christ, God’s wrath has been satisfied.  In Christ, God is pleased with us.  In Christ, the law has been fulfilled.  In Christ, we can continually confess sin and continually receive forgiveness.  In Christ, all of our haunting sins from our lives cannot slam us.  In Christ, God’s character of holiness is not compromised. In Christ, we have been made friends with God!  These truths we read in scripture.  May the Holy Spirit grant us faith to continually receive them.

“Our real crisis is the righteousness ‘of’ God, but our real solution is the righteousness ‘from’ God.[4]

Thanks be to God for the righteousness of Christ, for He is the solution to our God problem!

[1] C.O. Rosenius, Romans: A Devotional Commentary (Covenant Press, 1999), 99.
[2] Michael Horton, Sourcing Information Unknown.
[3] Matthew 3:17 & 17:5
[4] Michael Horton, Sourcing Information Unknown.