Romans 3:21–31 (NKJV)

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.

Romans 3:21-26

Paul has begun a discussion of the pervasive problem of universal sin. He makes it clear that no one is righteous, and that all are guilty before God. This goes back in history to the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. The answer to this sin problem is the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ as He died on the cross for our sins and rose again with new life and complete power over death and hell. In the middle of this discussion of Jesus’ revelation of righteousness by faith, Paul writes the oft-quoted words of verse 23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What a clear and concise statement of the plight of man. We are sinful! Yet, Christ has provided us salvation and forgiveness through the propitiation (payment) for our sins. God has been patient with sinful man in order to presently provide salvation and forgiveness of past sins. His righteousness is demonstrated through Christ!

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. 29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Romans 3:27-31

Paul is here trying to help the Romans understand the far-reaching power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not just for “God’s chosen people,” the Jews. Instead, God has made a way for all men and women to be saved through faith, rather than just observance of the law. This did not negate the law, but rather helped imperfect people to live in relationship to God through the law’s conviction of their sin, and the Spirit’s leading them to repentance and healing through the grace of God. Therefore, the law was not a taskmaster any longer, simply the partial truth of God’s expectations. In the age of grace, God would no longer require the death and sacrifice of animals, but instead faith in the work of Christ, the spotless Lamb of God. The law still shows man how to live, but the sacrifice of Christ replaced the shedding of animal blood, and provided a permanent payment for man’s sins. This is the new covenant. Man should still strive for and press toward the perfect life in God that the law points to. However, the payment for our shortcomings and failures is now through the blood of Christ, which never fails. Praise God for the sacrifice and powerful work of the Savior. The sin debt has been paid!

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