“He will render to each one according to his works.” Romans 2:6

When you read this verse, what do you feel? Does it make you think back over your mistakes in an effort to evaluate yourself and your holiness ranking? Does it make you feel defeated and fearful? Or do you feel pretty confident in how your works would measure up?

As Pastor Zach tells us, the words of Romans 2:6 do not sound like good news. But as he leads us through this passage, he is going to help us see who we really are, what that really means, and what we really need.

Everyone has a perception of themselves. We spend a lot of time evaluating what we do and what we don’t do. Often, we rank our actions as “mostly good” or give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. Equally as often, we rank the actions of those around us and fail to extend the same benefit of the doubt to them.

But the truth is, God doesn’t look at our self-graded score sheets or the cliff notes. He has the entire picture. He sees us for exactly who we are. He sees what we do and don’t do. He sees the real person underneath.

The truth is that all of us fall short and all of us battle sin each and every day. And there is not a single person who will avoid the judgment of God.

We are all sinners, and we are all going to stand before God someday to answer for those sins.

But the terrifying reality of Romans 2:6 ushers in the terrific relief of the redemptive work of Christ.

Christ enters into the world to be what we really need: the great exchange. He lives the sinless life we never could and takes our sins upon himself in order to credit us with his righteousness.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus provided us with a rescue plan, a beautiful picture of redemption and hope.

Pastor Zach uses a beautiful example of a piece of black felt and a diamond. The presence of the black contrasts with the diamond and makes it even more stunning.

As we look at the black felt of our lives, we are challenged to reflect on where God is placing his finger and saying, “Obey here. Do this. Walk away from that.”

This is the challenge to all of us. Our sin contrasts with the righteousness of God like a diamond on black felt. But our goal as Christ followers is to become more and more like the diamond as we walk with God.

Because of the great exchange, because of what Christ did for us, God sees Jesus when he looks at us.

So in those moments when we are tempted to get discouraged at the depth of our sin, we remember that the shining presence of Christ has been credited to us, like a bright light in a dark night.

This gives us the strength to face our sins each day with a desire to become more like Christ and glorify him more in everything we do.

We all have the black felt of our mistakes and brokenness on display. But this week, how could we use that to point another to the good news of the gospel shining through?