Finally, the good news! For two whole chapters, from Romans 1:17 to Romans 3:20, the apostle Paul has pounded away at our pride and self-sufficiency. God has driven the sword of His Word into our hearts, showing that no matter what our background, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect standard of obedience. Whether you’ve grown up around Christianity all your life or hardly been exposed to it at all until recently, your problem is the same – your sins have separated you from God and you need His help. Now, in today’s passage, we see the solution that God offers us.
The great riddle of the Old Testament was this: How can God be both just and merciful? We know that God is holy and must punish sin. He cannot just ignore or overlook it like we do. The blood sacrifices showed Israel and us that the penalty for sin had to be death. Yet God is also rich in mercy and loving kindness. The whole history of Israel from Abraham to the prophets is filled with examples of God showing grace and forgiveness to people who had sinned and disobeyed Him many times. How was this possible?
The answer is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. God punished His own perfect Son on our behalf, so that “all who believe” in Him are “justified freely by His grace” and receive His righteousness credited to us (Romans 3:22, 24). Jesus was put forth as a sacrifice for us; His precious blood paid our sin debt so that we would not have to spend eternity in hell (Romans 3:25). In this way, all the sins of people that God had seemed to overlook were actually never forgotten at all. Instead, they were nailed to the cross with Jesus. At the cross, God satisfied His demand for justice while at the same time justifying or making us right with Him without having to destroy or condemn us (Romans 3:26). He proved Himself totally righteous and totally loving. Look to the cross of Jesus today and marvel again at what God did for you. He is the Just One who justified you, the unjust sinner, because of His amazing love.
The Text (Romans 3:21-26)
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Questions to Think About
- Have you ever had a teacher or other adult leader who allowed kids to get away with being bad? How did it make you feel?
- Do you care about justice? Why or why not?
- What would God be like if He was loving but unjust? How about if He was just but unloving?
- Do you both fear and love the God of the Bible? Why or why not?