December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“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. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”—Romans 3:21–26 (NIV)
In the verses proceeding today’s passage of Scripture, Paul describes the purpose of God’s law and how it demonstrates His (God’s) righteousness, not ours (human beings). In fact, God’s law reflects our hideous sin nature back to us like a mirror in order to show us how wicked and awful we are. It sounds harsh, but it brings awareness to our true sin nature and our hopeless condition apart from Christ.
That’s where today’s passage of Scripture picks up. Starting in verse 21, Paul describes how God revealed His righteousness apart from the law. God revealed His righteousness through Jesus Christ, who is the fulfillment of the law and prophets. As human beings, we often view the law as good for attaining justification and righteousness. We seek to establish guilt and motive using the law as our measuring stick. But Paul reminds us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” No one (neither Jew nor Gentile) will be justified or deemed righteous before God according to the law.
Every single person begins his or her earthly journey in a spiritually-broken state. This sad start has its beginnings in the very beginning as mankind chose to disobey God by eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. From that moment, every person’s nature would be defined by sin. And because of this, we have no part or place with God. This is the bad news, but let’s look at the good news . . .
“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 3:23–24 (NIV)
There’s no need for you or I to perfectly uphold the law because Jesus already did that. It’s difficult to comprehend because we often measure a person’s righteousness or justification proportionately with their ability to abide by the law. And yet Jesus offers us (sinners) His (holy and perfect) righteousness and justification through His sacrifice. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB) summarizes this whole concept perfectly by saying, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
From there, Paul concludes by stating how Christ’s sacrifice displays God’s righteousness: “Because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:25–26 NIV).
This is the gospel, the good news of how Jesus did the impossible and reunited sinful man to a Holy God, and He did it . . .
Pause: Determine whether your ability to understand God’s love is based on your ability to uphold “the Law.”
Practice: Think of God’s law as a mirror for your soul. It can show you your flaws and what areas you need to address. Call upon Jesus and don’t seek to “white-knuckle” it in those areas of weakness and imperfection.
Pray: Lord God, I thank You for Jesus. I thank You that You demonstrate Your righteousness through Him and that through my faith and belief in Him, I am freely justified. Amen.
John Madge has been on staff with Calvary for over 4 years, serving as the Digital Systems Manager in the Communications Department. In 2019, he went on his first mission trip with Calvary Chapel to Hungary in order to support local missionaries and churches and share the gospel with locals. John enjoys living an active lifestyle through sports, fitness, and the occasional Zumba class. He has a deep desire for others to know the love of God in Christ Jesus and is a huge mental health advocate. He also hopes to be fluent in Spanish one day.