In this new series we ask how 3 nails, 2 pieces of wood and a man changes the world and achieves God's victory. Looking at the cross from different angles, and considering the various big words the early Christians use. This may provoke questions in you - so feel free to post them as comments on these posts.
First a dilemma: your child does something obviously very wrong. You love your child, you want the best outcome for him or her. So what do you do? On one extreme do you obliterate your child, or the other of simply saying "it doesn't actually matter"?
Paul writes to the Romans using long words on the topic. Verse 22 talks of the 'righteousness of God' and how He makes people right again. This is a free gift. Also God 'justifies' - moves us to the right side of the line between right and wrong (v23 - 24).
V24 Paul uses the word 'redemption'. Mortgage companies use this word when we finally pay back what we owe - because until then the lender has a hold, a legal claim, on your house. The point is that when we go against the love of God we inadvertently give something else a legal claim on our lives, like taking out a loan ... but we are duped because it is a loan we can never repay. God however resolves it for us, redeeming us so the claim on our lives is no longer outstanding.
Click this link to see summary explanations of these terms.
The thinkers among you will naturally want to ask 'But how?'. The answer is in v25 where God takes positive action by presenting Christ. God sends Himself to walk on earth as a man, like a father sending a willing son to complete an important task.
It is by sending the son that we are brought back and made right with God.
If you want to go deeper, read this about how Paul sees Jesus being that place where people are made right with God. For now note that it is Christ presented on the cross that becomes that place - a cruel violent horrible death!
The problem is that when we go our own way, we separate ourselves from the love and embrace of God. We don't just mess up but we distance ourselves from life. That has only one ultimate conclusion, which must be death. The death of Jesus encapsulates that and shows it in the starkest of terms, acting as a megaphone into history declaring the ultimate conclusion of our actions.
This is because God is just. He cannot simply turn a blind eye, or say "oh well it doesn't matter". It has to be dealt with ... but God deals with it Himself, by presenting Christ on the cross as the means whereby you can be restored. In this way He nullifies the effect of our wrongdoing, removing it from the scene.
So v25-26 concludes with the reality that God demonstrates his justice (i.e. calls wrong for what it is), but then does something about it. God is just, but also God is the one who justifies, enabling us to be moved to the right side of the line.
This we receive by faith, effectively putting our hands up and saying 'I need this' - to receive as a free gift from God.