"Nothing surprises me." I keep telling my congregation that. Sometimes I think that they think they can. They're afraid to confess their sins. They're afraid to talk about what they struggle with. Part of it is shame and embarrassment. Part of it is guilt. Part of it is not wanting to confront the sin in their lives. But I keep telling them, "Nothing will surprise me."
There are somethings in this world that are like that, something that won't surprise us. They are obvious and clear to all people. Our sin and sinfulness is clear (it may be denied and rejected, but it’s clear). It’s clear (but rejected and suppressed) to the godless (Look at Romans 1:18-23). It’s clear and felt by the consciences of people, even on those who don’t have the law (Look at Romans 2:14-15). It should be especially clear to those who have God’s law written and handed down (dear Christians – don’t think that you are above this).
We know it's true. We can feel it; it’s in our bones as our bodies decay. Our bodies know long before our hearts and minds that we’ve failed. But there is something that doesn’t come intuitive, not to us, not to anyone. There is a natural knowledge of God that all people have – whether they accept it or suppress it (But you might as well face it now rather than later).
This doesn't surprise me. It shouldn't surprise you.
But there is a knowledge of God that must be revealed. BUT NOW, Paul says, apart from law a righteous of God is revealed. God surprises us by revealing something new and saving. He reveals a righteousness by which God justifies the ungodly. He reveals a righteousness by which he justifies all people by his grace, through the redemption of Jesus.
He shocks us with the surprising revelation of what God did when he sent Jesus. He set him forward as the sacrifice for the sins of all people at the proper time. Until then, he was holding back his wrath like a pent up flood. And then, in the coming of Jesus, he gave surprising evidence of his righteousness – a righteousness that punishes unrighteousness and a righteousness that is given through Jesus.
So, you can't surprise me with your sin and your sinfulness. And I can't surprise you with mine. But we can surprise each other - as Paul surprises us - with a revelation of righteousness and forgiveness from God.
Join us this Sunday (6/25) we dig deeper into these truths in Romans 3:21-28.