Third Sunday in Lent–“Because God Said So” (Romans 5:1-8)

A-32 Lent 3 (Jn 4.5-26)Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning is the Epistle, which was read earlier.

There are four words that no child likes to hear. Those four words are usually spoken by a parent or someone in authority over them. You’ve probably either used them before or heard them spoken to you. What four words am I referring to here? They’re words that we all know: “Because I said so.” While there are many times this phrase has a negative meaning, we want to see that when God says, “Because I said so,” it’s the most positive meaning and outcome for us. Unlike our usual usage, when God says, “Because I said so,” it is actually good news for us.

Because God said so, we are justified…by faith. We are not just or righteous on our own. Ask yourself this question and be honest with yourself: What sin have I committed today? The answer is not going to be pretty. If you are honest with yourself, you will say that you have sinned. If you are not honest with yourself, then go back to our confession: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” All we can do on our own is to live in an unrighteous manner. We are sinners. We are ungodly. Sinners are not righteous, not even one bit. Try as we might, we cannot be righteous. The only way to be called righteous is to be made righteous from the outside. That righteousness comes from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His life, death, and resurrection for us sinners.

Looking at ourselves, we may think that we’re not that bad, but when God looks at us, He sees us as we truly are: corrupted by sin, a dead and dying creation because of Adam’s sin. When we are honest with ourselves, we will see the same thing that God sees. God did not desire His creation to be corrupted by sin. He did not desire sin to be a part of creation, yet what God desired is not what is true.

We haven’t kept the Commandments perfectly – or even come close to keeping them perfectly. We haven’t even kept one of the Commandments in a half-way decent way. We have failed. We stand before God guilty – guilty of taking His Commandments and breaking them; guilty of abusing and misusing the Word which He has given to us. We cannot plead not guilty, we cannot plead that we are just. We can only plead guilty. We deserve to hear, “Because I said so, you deserve hell.” Instead, we hear, “Because I said so, you are justified.”

How are we justified? We are justified by Christ’s actions on our behalf. By His life, death, and resurrection, we have been declared “not guilty.” Paul tells us that we have been justified by faith. That faith is faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else. It is Jesus Christ who is doing all the work for us; we are merely the recipients of His work. We have already done our part – we sinned. To undo that sin, now someone else must do the work. It can’t be us because our work will only result in death. By Christ’s work you and I have been justified. By Christ’s work you and I are able to stand before God as righteous.

What exactly is this faith which Paul speaks of? The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” God said that we are justified, yet we don’t look that way. We’re not glowing white; we don’t have a halo on our head. Our outward appearance is still that of a sinner. Our inward appearance is still that of a sinner. We look no different than before, yet our outward appearance before God has changed. He sees only the righteousness of Christ surrounding us, removing all our sin from His eyes, so that we stand before Him justified.

That faith we have believes that we are justified, right with God all because He said so, and He has. Because of Jesus’ death for the ungodly, for you and me, God really has said so: “You are not guilty. You are justified, right with me.” That’s what Paul tells us. He says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” If you want to know who Paul is talking about, all you need to do is look in the mirror, for Paul is talking about you. Paul is talking about me. Paul is talking about all of God’s creation, from Adam on.

Because God said so, we have peace with Him. We may not always see this peace. In fact, there are many a day where we would be hard-pressed to find that peace. We desire peace on earth and goodwill towards men, but is that really what we have? All one has to do is turn on the nightly news or read the latest news stories on the Internet to see that there is not peace on earth. Paul says that “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is that peace that passes all understanding. It is the peace which the world cannot give to us, for it is peace that only comes from being made right with God.

All of this is done for us because God said so. Listen again to these words from St. Paul: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Because God said so, Christ gave His life to reconcile us back to God. Sin separated us from God and made us enemies of God. When Christ died, those sins were removed by Jesus by taking them upon Himself.

All of this is done for us by God, just because He said so. When we hear the words, “Because I said so,” the end result is usually negative and not in our favor. When God says, “Because I said so,” the end result is always according to God’s will. Sometimes it has a positive result and other times a negative result. But for us, today, when God says “Because I said so,” the result is indeed in our favor. These words of Paul are words of assurance of what God has done for us and what he continues to do for us because of Christ. Heading to Calvary, we see the love of God for us as we see the cross coming closer and closer until that time we see Jesus on the cross. There, when we gaze upon the crucified body of our Savior, we see the love of God that He has for us. How can we be certain of this? Because God said so. In the name of Jesus, amen. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, amen.