Romans 3:21-26

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Text: Romans 3:21-26

THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD

INTRODUCTION:

In Romans 1:16-17 we have noted the theme of Romans. It is the gospel of Christ which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth. The one who is made righteous by faith in Christ's finished work on the Cross at Calvary is the one who will have eternal life.

The first major section of Romans deals with man's lack of righteousness. It shows the need for the righteousness of God. All humanity lacks the righteousness of God, and, therefore, stands condemned before God and deserving of spending eternity in hell. As we begin with Romans 3:21 we enter into our second major division of the book of Romans. It deals with God's provision of righteousness: justification by faith, and it extends from Romans 3:21 through 5:21. In Romans 3:21-31 we see God's righteousness provided by faith; in Romans 4 we see God's provision of righteousness by faith illustrated in the life of Abraham; in Romans 5:1-11 we will see that God's provision of righteousness by faith produces peace and hope; and in Romans 5:12-21 we will see that God's provision of righteousness by faith overcomes the effects of Adam's sin.

All mankind has failed to keep God's law. This, of course, includes us. Therefore, we cannot possibly earn salvation. We cannot possibly find ourselves acceptable to God. We cannot possibly go to heaven on the basis of our good works. Still, people try to be good in order to go to heaven. They count on their confirmation, their communion, their church membership, their baptism, their charity, their giving money to a church, their doing a good deed daily, etc.

God has said that we have all sinned. Do you believe God when He says that?

So, there must be some other way of salvation, or we have no hope. In Romans 3:21-26 we see that God has provided righteousness by faith. We need to remind ourselves of what righteousness is. It is uprightness. It speaks of the perfection of God's character. In His character He is perfectly holy. There is absolutely no sin in Him whatsoever. Righteousness is being right with God, or partaking of His holy character. As you can see, we do not come close to what is expected of us. Therefore, there must be some other way to God, and there is.

I. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD HAS BEEN REVEALED - 3:21

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God . . . is manifested. . . .

The righteousness of God may be God's righteousness or the righteousness which comes from God.

Manifested = has been revealed, has been made known, or has been shown. Its tense indicates that it was made known in the past and remains known in the present as a result.

II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS APART FROM THE LAW - 3:21

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested. . . .

Without the law = apart from law, whether the Mosaic Law or any other kind of law.

Here is a means of righteousness that will meet our needs. If we had kept the Law, we would not need it; but we failed to keep the Law because of our old sin natures.

III. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD WAS DECLARED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT - 3:21

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God . . . (is) being witnessed by the law and the prophets.

Being witnessed is having been declared or having been confirmed.

The Law and the Prophets are two of the three divisions of the Old Testament. Thus, this means the Old Testament writings. The righteousness of God is mentioned throughout the Old Testament.

IV. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD COMES BY FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST - 3:22

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ. . . .

Even indicates that verse 22 is in apposition to righteousness in verse 21. In other words, it is another way of saying exactly the same thing. The righteousness of God apart from the law is the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.

By faith is through faith.

Of Jesus Christ indicates that Jesus Christ is the object of this faith. This faith is placed in Jesus Christ. It does not mean that it is faith which Jesus Christ exercised. Since faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed, faith which has Christ as its object will prove to be very valuable.

V. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS AVAILABLE UNTO ALL THAT BELIEVE IN JESUS - 3:22

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all . . . them that believe. . . .

Unto all . . . them that believe indicates that the righteousness of God is available for all who believe in Jesus.

VI. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE - 3:22

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ . . . upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.

And indicates that a second thing is true. The righteousness of God is not only unto all them that believe, it is also upon all them that believe.

Upon all them that believe indicates that salvation is not only available for all who believe; it is also given to all who believe.

For there is no difference = there is no difference between all them that believe and upon all them that believe. They are exactly the same group of individuals, and they must all come to God on exactly the same grounds. All, whether Jews or Gentiles, have sinned and are deserving of spending eternity in hell. All likewise are saved by faith in Christ. All who exercise faith in Jesus Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles, will obtain this righteousness of God. All, whether Jews or Gentiles, have come short of the glory of God. All who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles, are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ.

VII. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS NEEDED BY ALL - 3:23

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Verse 23 provides a partial explanation of why there is no difference as is indicated by for.

All have sinned indicates that all persons without exception have committed sin. The tense of have sinned indicates that this is regarded as a historical fact.

Come short of is used in the sense of are lacking. Its present tense indicates continuing action.

The glory of God is the glory which belongs to God. It indicates what all persons are lacking. God is holy; and a certain glory, therefore, belongs to Him. Man is not holy because of sin; and, therefore, he is also lacking this glory which is characteristic of God.

VIII. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS RECEIVED FREELY BY HIS GRACE - 3:24

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Being justified = declared righteous - It pictures God as the judge of each believer and issuing a verdict of righteous, rather than guilty, or acquitted, or innocent. Not only does God declare the believer righteous, He also from that time on regards him as righteous and treats him as righteous. Now, the believer is not really righteous because he still has sin in his life, but God treats him as righteous because he has by faith in Christ accepted God's provision of righteousness. Hence, he is said to be justified.

Verse 24 is best connected with unto all and upon all them that believe in verse 22. Thus, all of those who believe in Jesus are being justified freely by his grace.

This is necessary because all the ones being justified freely committed sin, thereby necessitating this justification by faith.

Freely = without payment, as a gift, or gratis

By his grace indicates the means by which this justification comes to pass. It is by means of the grace of God which is unmerited or undeserved.

IX. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IS GIVEN THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS - 3:24-25

Romans 3:24-25 - 24 Being justified . . . through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. . . .

Redemption = the buying back of a slave thus making him free by payment of a ransom. Spiritually it refers to the release from slavery to sin. The price paid is the blood of Christ. Hence He is the propitiation for our sins through faith in His blood.

Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood. . . .

Whom God hath set forth means whom God has displayed publicly and refers to the crucifixion where God the Father placed Christ on display publicly as a propitiation.

The word translated propitiation here is translated mercy seat in Leviticus 16:14 .

Leviticus 16:14 - And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times.

The mercy seat is the lid of the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark were the tablets of the law. Thus, the sprinkling or application of the blood to the mercy seat is seen as picturing the covering the Law.

Propitiation means that the wrath of God which had been directed against the sinner has been removed. The believer thus stands forgiven and at peace with God.

Luke 18:9-14 - 9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

God be merciful to me a sinner = God be propitiated to me the sinner. It is asking God to treat me as one for whom the blood has been sprinkled on the mercy seat.

Through faith in his (i.e. Christ's) blood indicates how one receives this propitiation. It is given to those who exercise faith in what the Bible teaches regarding the blood of Christ which was shed in order to atone for sin.

X. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD SAVES THE SINNER - 3:25-26

Romans 3:25-26 - 25 . . . To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

The righteousness of God for forgiving sins in the past is established by the cross.

Romans 3:26 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

To declare his righteousness is literally a proof (or sign) of his righteousness where His refers to God the Father.

For the remission of the sins that are past refers to God's act in forgiving sins which were committed prior to the time of the actual crucifixion.

For is because of or on account of.

Remission is letting go unpunished or passing over.

The sins that are past is the sins (or the transgressions) that have happened before.

The punishment demanded as a payment for sin was not fulfilled until the crucifixion. God temporarily overlooked the sins that are past knowing that Christ would eventually come and die for sin. Had Christ not eventually come, God would not have been righteous in failing to punish sin.

It is comparable to our use of a credit card to make a purchase. The merchant gets his money, and we eventually pay the credit card balance due.

Through the forbearance of God is in the forbearance of God where forbearance means clemency.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness is a reaffirmation of what Paul has written in the previous verse for the sake of emphasis and explanation.

To declare is on account of a proof.

At this time is at the present time and refers to the time of the cross when God was making this statement.

What he was declaring was his righteousness, i.e. God the Father was declaring His own righteousness.

That he might be just indicates the first reason God declared His righteousness. It means that God could not have been righteous in forgiving anyone's sins prior to the cross if he had not eventually punished sin. He could not overlook sin forever. His holiness required that He punish sin, and He merely delayed the punishment until the time of the crucifixion.

And the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus indicates the second reason God declared His righteousness in setting forth Christ as a propitiation for sin.

It means that God the Father desired to declare the one who believes in Jesus to be righteous. To justify is a judicial declaration of righteousness. God declares the one who believes in Jesus to be righteous, and God forever afterward treats him as righteous.

CONCLUSION:

The conclusion of the matter is that everyone needs to be saved. No one will go to heaven who has not been saved. We all stand condemned before a holy God and deserve to spend eternity in hell.

God has made righteousness in His sight available for us. Have you had a genuine heart experience with God and entrusted yourself to Him?

Realizing what He did for you, have you dedicated your life to Him?