Relying Your Work is Offensive to Jesus’ Work

Romans 4:13-25

13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

  1. Relying on the Law Means Relying on Yourself
  2. You keep the law you get what you deserve

It feels like we default to the idea of deserving when we think about relationships, agreements and covenants. It’s only natural. If you keep the law, then you are not condemned by the law right? Sabbath mode on our new refrigerator. And God expressed this idea to the Israelites when He instituted the Old Covenant with them. And I think it would be a mistake to move away from this idea in total. But it will never work when it comes to establishing our righteousness with God. No one is good. Bad people do good things. It’s not good people doing bad things. We need the humility so we won’t just make our own good standards! And the reason that we think we are good is because we have set our own standards.

If you fulfill the terms of an agreement, then you receive the benefits of that agreement. And so we keep terms. If you pay for insurance, you expect that when you have a problem, insurance will kick in and pay for the problem minus a deductible which you agreed to ahead of time. What if you paid for insurance and then the insurance did not do what they promised? Then they would owe you a debt.

Romans 8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.


  1. The law reveals character it doesn’t make character

The law is powerless to make you righteous because of where you start with the law. What you are is what you are already.

Consider the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day. They are obsessed with keeping the law. But the letter of the law according to their definition overwhelms the spirit of love that gave the law to begin with. God’s law is a reflection of His love! And so they don’t want Jesus to do what is good on the Sabbath because they define that good work as breaking the commandment. This is why Jesus says that the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath!

Another example: Pharisees in John 8 are willing to risk the life a helpless young girl just to trap Jesus and discredit Him. How is that a reflection of God’s love?

What the law reveals is that no one is able to keep the law. That is, we are not able to perfectly reflect God’s love! What I find in myself is that when I was more legalistic I was much less accepting of people and their weaknesses. Why is that? Because I knew the sacrifices that I had to make to force my sorry self to submit to God and I was jealous that they didn’t do that. My life was much harder because I was being legalistic. And I was terrifically unhappy because of my legalism. And to top it all off, it didn’t work! I could never feel good about myself. My story about “Thank You Jesus!”


  1. The law is a reflection of God’s character

And so, there is a higher law than you reap what you sow. The Ten Commandments are a template. Love God, Love neighbor are the broader two. God’s love is the definition of love that is the standard. That is the information, but people have sinned and the universe did not come to a grinding halt. This is what tells us that there is a higher law than just you reap what you sow. What does God want for those who are sinners? Does God want you to get what you deserve? He so does NOT want you to get what you deserve that He sent His only begotten Son to pay the just penalty of your sins.

There is a higher law than you get what you deserve. because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

There is the law that God’s mercy and grace are available to those who will accept the truth about their sin and turn to Him for forgiveness and life!

Again, forgiveness is not applied to all, it is for those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation!


  1. Abraham is the Father of Many Nations

        And it is because of faith! Not because of keeping the law that relates to food, cleaning, sacrifices, Sabbaths etc. The moral law is for everybody!! All the rest of the other issues are fulfilled in Christ.


  1. Is this an offensive idea?

It can be if you think of Abraham as your exclusive spiritual or literal father. “I will bless those that bless you and I will curse those that curse you.”

Is that for the Jewish people exclusively? The better question is whether or not it is for the Jewish people at all! Who is greater Abraham or Jesus? Which is greater, to be a child of Abraham or a child of God? Think about how you feel about your children!

Romans 9

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. (Thesis verse)

it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. (Principle that directs the promise)

Isaac, not Ishmael is the first example.

Jacob, not Esau is the second example.

It only bothers you if someone is excluded if it is you!!

Well, it’s Jesus, not anyone else as the fulfilled example!

Jesus in John 8 God can from these stones raise up children of Abraham. That is not the point. The point is to be connected to God Himself!


  1. Abraham’s promises are for more than the Jews

v.16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. (Who have the faith of Abraham, and who express faith in Jesus Christ for our righteousness)

The promise of righteousness is given to folks who are literal descendants of Abraham and those who are not literal descendants of Abraham. Are there literal descendants of Abraham that do not receive the promises? I would say, “Yes.”

Those who have the faith of Abraham are made children of Abraham.

And finally, how can this be?!

  1. God gives life as He chooses

Verse 17b the God who gives life to the dead and calls into         being things that were not.

You can be sinful and dead, and God can declare you to be righteous and alive. And that is exactly what He does.

Ephesians 2: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions

God gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not!

God does this in the birth of Isaac.

God does this in providing a substitute sacrifice for Isaac.

God does this in the conception and birth of Jesus.

God does this in the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.

God does this in your own life.

You are a new creation in Christ. Old things have passed away, behold new things have come!!!!! This is how God sees you, whether or not you understand it or not.


III. All of the Righteous Credit of God is Given in Jesus


  1. Jesus was delivered to death for our sins v.25

It’s not like the wages of sin go unpaid. They are paid. There is a reason that the OT sacrifices had to be unblemished animals. There is a reason that Jesus had to be sinless.

Isaiah 53:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him  the iniquity of us all.

How can this be that I gain an interest in the savior’s blood?

“There is life in the blood!” And Jesus’ blood is free to be given!


  1. Jesus was resurrected for our Justification v.25

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father where He makes intercession for the saints!

Ephesians 2: And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is an amazing defense lawyer! Because He doesn’t argue the guilt before the law, He just substitutes His death for the sentence! When in court, our accuser argues against us using the law in the old way. (The only reason Job is good is because you have blessed him. You haven’t tested him yet!) Satan knows that people are not good!!!

You get what you deserve!

And Jesus moves to the higher law. The more important law. God loves people. And because He loves them He desires to spend eternity with them and see them reflect His image on earth. Therefore Jesus came, taught and lived to set the standard for what a human being is to be. And God’s mercy triumphs over judgement because it is available if someone perfect purchases it for another with their righteous life!

You can receive mercy if someone has paid the cost for it.


Romans 8:

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (And the proof of this?!) 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

God did not send Jesus to die for your sins and give you a salvation that you are responsible to keep by your good behavior even. He has forgiven you past, present and future by the one sacrifice of Jesus He has made you perfect forever!

  1. The letter kills but the Spirit gives life

II Cor 3:4-6

Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Ok, this should be nailed down. God’s righteousness is given because of Jesus’ work and is received by faith from first to last, no exceptions ever at all.

Romans 1-5 Justification

Romans 6-8 Sanctification

Romans 9-11 What about the Jews

Romans 12-16 Working out your salvation practically