Undeserved Mercy

Opening Prayer

Holy Spirit, open my mind to understand Your Word; open my heart to receive Your grace.

Read Romans 3:9–31

9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 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— 26 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.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.


What is an accomplishment of yours that you are proud of? Does this pride lead to a healthy joy or a misguided self-importance?

The bad news or the good news? Which do you like to hear first? In this long passage, Paul gets into some more straightforward teaching. The bad news: whoever we are—whatever our status, ethnicity, way of life—we are guilty before God (9). God’s perfect law makes us aware of our sinfulness (20).
“But now,” says Paul, something amazing has happened (21). The good news is that Jesus, God’s own Son, has died for our sin (22). We are not “righteous” because of our own efforts at keeping God’s law; God sees us as “righteous” because Jesus has taken the punishment for our sin (25). All we have to do is to believe and receive his undeserved gift. Troubled by guilt and past sin? Let’s receive God’s grace now (24).
But I’m good at keeping the rules, say Paul’s Jewish readers! In our Christian world today it’s all too easy to feel proud that we alone have the right understanding of God or the Bible (29). The truth is, there is absolutely no room for such pride (27). All have fallen short of God’s standard; the only way of being made right with him is through faith in Jesus (24).


How can you take pride and give glory in what God has done for you? Boast (in a good way) about God to someone today.

Closing prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive my pride. I praise You for Your gift of mercy that we do not deserve.

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider