9. What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10. as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;
11. no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."
13. "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
14. "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
15. "Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16. in their paths are ruin and misery,
17. and the way of peace they have not known."
18. "There is no fear of God before their eyes."
19. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
20. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
21. 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.
27. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
28. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
29. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
30. since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
31. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
JUSTIFICATION: This is one of the great blessings God gives to those who have faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16), when God calls them by the gospel. In justification, God declares the sinner to be righteous, only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to him (Romans 4:6, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9). Justification is much more than forgiveness; we are counted and declared as righteous as Christ Himself is righteous. Justification is not God infusing righteousness on sinners, rather God pardons their sins, by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous not for anything they have done (or not done for that matter), but for Christ's sake alone, not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ’s active obedience in His death for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which is not of themselves; it is the gift of God.
The purpose of this paper is to show you how much you are missing out by being without it. It is to show you your dire need, and its infinite worth. This is the message of the good news. This is the greatest news – showing how rebels can be made right with a holy God and be forever secure under God’s grace and mercy. So Why do you need to be right with God?
1. THE INFINITE HOLINESS OF GOD
God is absolutely righteous and holy. He is most holy, infinite in being and perfection, such that He is incomprehensible by any but Himself, a most pure spirit, dwelling in light which no man can approach, sovereignly working all things according to the counsel of His immutable and most holy will for His own glory, and withal most just, and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.
This is how God is described in Scripture and we need to come to terms with this reality. Consider how He described Himself to Moses:
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." Exo 34:5-7.
He is the One described by the Cherubim as,
And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" Isa 6:3.
But the good news here is that God has been pleased to reveal His righteousness to us apart from what we have done. “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
The righteousness and the glory of God are things that God will seek to defend. The only currency He admits in heaven is His own righteousness. Earth-gotten righteousness is not just a foreign currency before God – it is illegal. When there is no righteousness there is no glory and where there is no glory it is because of the righteousness. It concerns God that the fall ruined the righteousness that was intended for man, in order to yield God’s glory. The essence of salvation is to bring both back – man obtains this righteousness from God and God receives all the glory. Any other way man cannot be helped from his great predicaments. When the Bible refers to the righteousness of God, it is talking about the righteousness that belongs to God and that He gives. He does not require us to manufacture it – He has it and He gives it. Righteousness means the ability to conform unto the law of God. It is perfect obedience. It is absolute and eternal.
2. THE TERRIBLE SINFULNESS OF MAN
Man is a totally depraved creature. This is not to say that every human being as wicked as he can be and that he can’t do any seemingly good, rather it is to say that there is absolutely no spiritual good in him at all! It is to say that the best of human deeds of kindness are marred by failure to trust God and inability to glorify God. Everything he touches is tainted with sin that fills his being and he is wretched in the sight of God. But how exactly is human sinfulness described in Scripture?
a) Man has been declared a sinner by the Law- Because the Law of God exposes all the things that man is guilty of, man stands exposed as a sinner and condemned by the Law! The Law of God is like a ruler – it shows us just how crooked we are. No one can look into the Word of God and miss the truth of what Paul is saying! “…What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (vv.9-18, 23)
b) Man is damned as a sinner by the Law - God gave the Law to man as a tool to show man that he is a helpless, guilty sinner who direly need to be saved but who otherwise will bear the due punishment for their sins. The Law then aims at driving man to Jesus, Gal. 3:24. The Law is like a mirror, James 1:23-25. It can show you just how dirty your face is, but it cannot be used to clean you up. You do not take the mirror and rub it on your face to get clean. The mirror exists to point you to the water. So it is with the Law of the Lord. The Law cannot clean us up, but it can create a desire in us for the One Who can: the Lord Jesus Christ.
c) The eternal judgment that await all sinners
God very categorically says what is soon going to happen to all who will be found under this category. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Rom 1:18.
Under this all I can do is point out to various passages of God’s word about this judgment:
i) God gave them up
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Rom. 1:21-32. The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit; he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it. Pro 22:14. This is the first judgement – God gives them up their sinfulness. And to delusion - Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 2Th 2:11.
ii) God actively and eternally will punish them all
God has clearly said that there is such a place of eternal punishment. It is for all who have rejected or not believed in His Son. 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. Mat 5:22. It is a place of permanent and eternal separation from God, And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' Luk 16:26. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 2Pet. 2:4. And again, This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 2Th 1:5-10.
3. THE WONDERFUL REDEMPTION IN CHRIST JESUS (VV.21-26)
Since this is the emphasis of the passage, we will spend more time here. Notice the little conjunction "but". It is a contrast to denote a change of thought. Pay attention to those little words in your Bible. Remember, even the largest door turns on a relatively small hinge! For instance, think of the great passage in Eph. 2:1-10. There, the word "but" shows up in a similar fashion. These few verses that we are about to look into now are jammed packed full of theological truth. Martin Luther labelled them as "the marrow of theology." This is, perhaps, the deepest theological sea in the New Testament. We can never do them justice in the few minutes we have here. Notice what has become of the terrible sinner:
A sinner is given Faith (vv.21-23) - Man is lost and he cannot work his way to God or access or please God. And yet, God the Father demands perfect righteousness to enter His heaven - Matt. 5:20; 5:48. But man is a miserable sinner, 3:23, and he will never be right with God by virtue of his own efforts. To "come short of the glory of God," means literally miss the mark. The tense of this word shows this to be an ongoing state of affairs. In other words, no matter how good one may get, he will still be missing the mark and falling far short of the glory of God! You can't get to God on your own!
Therefore, God gives a gift of faith to men (Eph. 2:8) allows men to be made righteous by their placing their faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus. Salvation comes solely by faith. You cannot buy your way to Heaven. You cannot be good enough to get to Heaven. You cannot work hard enough to get to Heaven. However, you can believe in Jesus, be saved by grace, be declared righteous by the Heavenly Father and go to Heaven with nothing but faith to show for it!
What does,"unto all and upon all." Mean? It means that the Lord takes His righteous and gives it to and puts it on ALL those who BELIEVE in His Son! That is how salvation works.
A sinner is given Freedom (v.24)- This verse has two great theological words: "justify" and "redemption." The word "justify" means to "To declare one not guilty, or to make one as he ought to be." In the biblical sense, it means that God, in His power and in His grace declares us to be righteous and worthy of a relationship with Him. The word "redemption" means "to set at liberty after the payment of a ransom price." To put it all together, when you believed the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, God applied the price that Jesus had paid on the cross to our account and declared you as righteous. By so doing, He freed us from the condemnation and the consequences of our sins. He very literally set us free from sin!
The Bible says in this verse that all of this happens "freely". This word literally means "without a cause or price". Basically, God gave us His righteousness even when we did not deserve to receive it, for we could never earn it or pay Him back for it. He gave it to us without a single cause, or without any strings attached! There is no explaining why God saved a bunch of Hell deserving sinners, except to display the richness of His grace, love and mercy that he lavished on us richly.
A sinner is given Forgiveness (vv.25-26): These verses tell us that Jesus is the "propitiation". This is a theological word that means "An appeasement, or a satisfying." This word comes from the Hebrew word which was used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement (this rite signifying that the life of the people, the loss of which they had merited by their sins, was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated).
What this means for you and me is that when we trusted Jesus as our Savior, God requires nothing further from us. He is absolutely satisfied! Because of this, He has forgiven us by the "remission of sins that are past". The word "remission" means "to pass over, to disregard." When we trusted Christ, God put our sins behind Him, Psa. 103:12; Isa. 38:17; Micah 7:19, and has forever cleansed us and forgiven us, Col. 2:13-14; 1 John 1:7.
4. THE PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS GIVEN (VV.27-31)
A believer has a new relationship with the Law – So far, the Scripture has clearly shown that no man is saved by keeping the Law. He is saved by pure faith, which he has received from God. Therefore, there is nothing to boast about which he can boast in the matter of his salvation. Instead of man taking the credit for something with which he had nothing to do, all glory and honour must be given to the Lord. He knows that the Law was just a tool used by the Lord to bring that man to Himself. He isn't trying to please God, He knows that God is already pleased. He isn't trying to earn point with God, he knows that God is already completely satisfied. He knows that His salvation is complete in the Person of the Lord Jesus and He glorifies God on that account! He has passed from the state of salvation having to do with do's and realizes that it is done!
There are only two types of religion in the world – ‘Do religions’ and Christianity which a ‘Done religion’. The "Do" religions are all based on the notion that man must "do" something to please the God. Emphasis on such as: pray, join a church, give money, be a good person, make a sacrifice, make a pilgrimage, wear certain clothing, keep the Ten Commandments, go to Mass, etc. Although all the "Do" religions may seem worthwhile from the outside, they all require their followers to "do" something in order to earn salvation. Religions like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Shintoism, Mormonism, The Jehovah's Witnesses and Roman Catholicism are all examples of "Do" religions. In short, every religion in the world is a "Do" religion, except one. Christianity is a "Done" religion! Those who are truly saved haven't done anything and aren't required to do anything, because Jesus has already done everything that is necessary!
A believer has a new Lord (vv.29-30). Because of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are brought into a right relationship with the Heavenly Father. God isn't any more just the Father of our Lord, He is our Father too. We are His sons and daughters, 1 John 3:1-2! He has saved us, justified us, accepted us in His Son and even now He awaits us in our new home in Heaven. We are no longer strangers, Eph. 2:12, we are His family, belonging to His commonwealth. We have been reconciled to the Lord, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, and we have been brought into His presence by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!
A believer has a new life (v31) - In this final verse, final question. If we are saved by faith apart from the Law, then does this make the Law of God null and void. In other words, can we just throw out the Law and live as we please if we are really saved by grace? The answer? God Forbid! What he is saying is that our salvation does not do away with the Law. Instead, our salvation establishes, or fixes the Law of God in its right place. How is this true? Well, the Lord used the Law to teach us that we were sinners. He used the Law to show us that we were doomed without Him. He used the Law to establish our need. Now that we are saved, the Lord begins to live this Law through our lives. The difference is that we are not living the Law to be saved. We are not living the Law because we have to. We just naturally begin to live out the spirit of the Law of the Lord because He has placed His Spirit in us and because He has made us to be partakers of His divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4. In the simplest of terms, we begin to live like God and His Son intends when we are saved! Jesus changes every aspect life He saves by grace! He puts a desire and a longing within our hearts to love Him with all the heart, all the soul, all the mind and all the strength as well as to love our neighbours as ourselves. A Christian lives for the glory of God. Yes, to do the things that please Him, honour Him and bring glory unto Him. We show the world that people can live for God, by letting God live in them!