The Righteousness of God Through Faith – Romans 3:21-26 – 02/21/2016
Romans 3:21 (ESV) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 21 of chapter 3…
V21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—
Paul continues in the letter to the Roman church by discussing the revelation of righteousness, Paul finishes talking about the judgment of God in verse twenty to the coming justification in verse twenty one. Even the words used are beautiful. Paul starts by saying “but now” talks about the change between the Law and the New Covenant. Paul ties the new work in Jesus Christ with the work that began in the beginning from God as a continuing work that was shown through the Law and the prophets.
The two works are not separate but the new Covenant built upon the work that the Law and Prophets began, which is why they bear witness to it. As stated in the last article, the law has no ability to save us but it does illuminate God’s perfect standard to show the righteousness that God has as his standard and how attainable it is for us to do on our own.
Which is why we required the saving work of the cross of Jesus Christ, we needed that to bridge the gap between man and God. Paul goes on to say…
V22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
And this is the point of what Paul is saying is that the righteousness of God is only through faith in Jesus Christ for those who believe. We get this through faith as opposed by faith. It is not something that can be earned it is something that is received freely and abundantly by a benevolent God and he makes it available to all those who believe, we have to have faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins and made a way for us to go to heaven. Pal states there is no distinction because although we have righteousness not earned by works but given by grace, it is still righteousness and it came from God.
This is in stark contrast to the last article that stated that “no-one was righteous” and if we were to end Paul’s message there then the message of Christianity would be no less true because of what Paul is about to state in verse 23…
V23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
…However that is not the end of the story, yes we are guilty under God’s perfect standard, even if it is just in thought Jesus calls us guilty, let’s look at what Jesus says about your thought life…
Matthew 5:21 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
So if it is in your thought life, if you look upon a woman with lust in your heart and keep that in your heart and ponder after it until you are having a thought life affair then you are in sin? What if you don’t actually “do the crime?” I say that according to the word of God – absolutely!
We are all starting off from the same sinful state; we have a hereditary sinful nature that was passed down all the way from Adam. Just as universal and as all-encompassing is that statement the remedy is the same. We all start off from the position of separation from God and we all have the same opportunity to reconcile with God. This is a sobering thought that we all start from that same position regardless of the severity of our sin, we are at the same position as the murderer, the rapist, the multiple felon, the man on death row and should we not choose to take that free gift of salvation we will end up in exactly the same place, regardless of how moral we are down here.
We are justified freely by his grace as a gift and many “health, wealth and prosperity” preachers teach they end it there, they fail to observe the second part of the sentence “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and that is the reason for the free gift is that it was paid for us by the next part “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Jesus is the reason for the faith, he is the centerpiece in all that we do and we know that we are redeemed through his sacrifice on the Cross where he volunteered to come to earth to bridge that gap between man and God. Let’s look at what Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians regarding this…
1st Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We were bought with a price and that price was Jesus death which he gladly paid and if you were the only one who was ever going to accept him as their messiah he would still have done the same. We were redeemed and that price was Him. God passes over all of our past sins because of His blood and God shows his perfect forbearance that he was righteous.
V26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
To sum up what Paul is saying is that Jesus was a sacrifice (propitiation) instead of us, he was judged in our place to allow God the Father to remain righteous in making a judgment against sin and allowing him to judge those who rejected his “Get out of Hell free” card (quoting a Monopoly analogy. He made the atonement, punishment for our sins because we could not pay the debt on our own. He was the ultimate Passover lamb (Exodus 12) who instead of saving the firstborn of a house be was there to save the people of the world from their sins.
As stated in verse 23, we all deserve judgment, and God would be no less just had he consigned all of mankind to die in their sins, however God loves his creation and set in motion the Jewish temporary system of atonement by animal sacrifice until the messiah came and gave a permanent sacrifice when he went to die at Calvary and satisfied the desire for justice to be served and mercy to be shown because of the ultimate sacrifice.
Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will continue to look at chapter 3 verses 27-31 where we look at whether we are justified by the Law of works or whether we are justified by faith. We also look at where the Gentiles fit in and whether God is God of the Jews only … I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.