“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 – 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. Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded.” (Romans 3:25-27)
Boasting is excluded. Period. I love the wording that Paul uses in this section of Scripture. Everything within us wants us to feel good about us. We want to think that we are doing a good job. We crave for other people to think highly of us. This leaves us with two dangerous realities. First, it causes us to worry about how we appear to others. This can cause us to wear masks, pretending to be something we are not. People pleasing is the end result of this reality. Second, and more tragic, it pushes us into pride. “Look at me! I am doing great! Look how far I have come!”
According to Paul, our pride must be slaughtered. It is so easy to allow our own spiritual growth to swell us up with pride and make us judge others who are not “at the same level.” Romans 3 shatters this mindset. Two times in the three verses above, it is stated that God presented Christ to demonstrate his righteousness. The cross of Christ demonstrates how good God is, not how good we are. The shedding of Jesus’ blood was to bring glory to God, by demonstrating His righteousness, not ours. The sacrifice of Christ is meant to magnify His name, not ours.
To set this all up, Paul reminds us just how broken we are for eleven verses prior to this. Romans 3:9-20 is an eye opening reminder of how broken and lost we are apart from the work of Christ. “There is no one righteous, not even one.” (3:10) Before Paul tells us the best news in the world, he gives us the worst news in the world. To summarize, we are all too far gone and cannot work our way to God. No one is good enough, and there is nothing we can do about it. This is the worst news in the world. Verse 21, however, starts Paul’s introduction of the best news in the world: God gave his Son to die in our place. The new righteousness, through faith in Jesus, is available to all. We can be justified freely by His grace. Our sins are covered. There is no better news in the world.
Now we start to see just how selfish we are when we puff up with pride. Without God, we are nothing. We are dead apart from the work of Christ. Completely helpless with no chance. God has given us everything in Christ. How, then, can we possibly be prideful? We had nothing to do with the saving work of Christ. It was all done through the grace of God, all for His glory. The only response that makes sense is to constantly fall on our face in adoration of the Giver of this precious Gift. The gospel is intended to show us how lost we are, and then marvel at how good God is.
Let us pray for this to be the reality in the Church today. Let pride be sacrificed on the altar, letting humility be the norm. We are not meant to be the sun. We are meant to be moons who reflect the light of the Son. Did you know that the moon does not produce light, but reflects the light of the sun? The moon is nothing without the light from the sun. It cannot produce its own light. We are nothing without the light of the Son. We cannot produce our own light. We are hopeless without the grace of God, through the work of the cross of Christ. The credit for our justification belongs to God. Pride is excluded. Amen.