Sunday School Lessons

Pick Your Poison

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Pick your poison”.  Sometimes, regardless of which choice we make, it seems like they are both bad.  For instance, whether I choose to do my taxes by hand, purchase software to help me, do the work online, or hire someone to help me, I still have to do my taxes!

In the following verse, if you sin (and we all have), then it doesn’t matter whether or not you have the law (or just “law”): the outcome doesn’t sound very good.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
Romans 2:12 NIV

This seems to be a similar point to one that the author of Hebrews made.  Jewish people didn’t get a “pass” just because they were circumcised (i.e., they had “the law”).  In the same way, those who consider themselves “good to go” with God – just because they go to church, claim the term “Christian”, or obtained some other external appearance of righteousness – shouldn’t think that they get a pass, either [ref. Cottrell, p.170-174].

The good news in the Bible is that there are more than just these two choices, thanks to Jesus Christ.  This good news is coming up in the next chapter of Romans, making this a great time to read Romans 3:21-26.  Here’s an excerpt if you didn’t just read the entire passage at the preceding link:

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:21‭-‬24 NIV

Since we’re all guilty of sins (as Romans 3:23 confirms), God sent Jesus to pay for those sins.  This is the good news: Our options are no longer limited to the consequences of sinning outside of the law, or the judgment of sinning under the law.  This “new” option that is available to us was provided as a gift from God.  Because Jesus willingly gave His life over to the punishment that we deserve for our sins, we can accept His gift – by faith – as payment for those consequences.  There’s nothing that we did to earn or to deserve this gift, but God loved us enough to make it possible for us to be restored back to Himself.

Another thing that I appreciate about this solution is that God didn’t minimize or ignore the ugliness of sin.  He doesn’t choose to be un-just or to accept sin into His presence.  Instead, He remains perfectly righteous.  God’s righteousness is maintained by providing a way for our sins to receive full punishment (in Jesus’ voluntary sacrifice), and His righteousness is demonstrated through His patience in not punishing our sins immediately (see Romans 3:25-26).

When we judge someone (condemning them for their behavior), rather than loving them enough to patiently help them get better from the things that are causing them suffering, we’re not really acting like God’s example, are we?

In the end, as we cultivate righteousness in our hearts, there may be times when we need to help another brother or sister get a speck out of their eye, but out of love for them, and not judgment.

If you haven’t accepted this gift of salvation, I hope that you will accept Jesus’ gift through faith, and turn your life over to Him.  (Let me – or a trusted Christian pastor or friend – know if you have any questions about this.)

If you have already done that, let us remember that we are called to strive towards the perfect example that Jesus gave to us.  May we treat others as God has treated us, and not leave them in a no-win situation, even if they created that situation for themselves (like we did).

From Sunday School lesson prepared for January 9, 2022


  • The Lookout, January 9, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.

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