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Justified by Faith (Romans 3:21-31)

Romans 3:21–31 - 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man 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 indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Paul proclaims that God's flawless righteousness is freely given to all people who put their faith Jesus Christ (vv. 21-22). He says that all of us have fallen short of God’s standard of righteousness because of sin, with no exceptions (v. 23). But by His undeserved kindness, God declares guilty sinners righteous through the deliverance accomplished by Jesus' atoning sacrifice (vv. 24-26). This leaves no room for human pride, since salvation is received not by good deeds but by God’s unmerited favor through faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross alone (vv. 27-28). He says that God is the Lord of both Jews and non-Jews, and that it is He alone who pronounces the guilty justified through faith in Jesus (vv. 29-30). Paul also makes it clear that faith in God’s grace does not do away with the law but rather fulfills its purpose in showing us how much we need that grace (v. 31). How can I apply <Romans=">Romans" 3:21-31="3:21-31</a></strong><strong>"> to my life? In this passage, Paul clearly explains the wonderful truth that God graciously gives us His righteousness when we put our faith in Christ’s sacrifice to be the full payment for our sin. This undeserved gift humbles proud hearts, silencing any attempts at self-promotion before our Creator. For on what could we ever boast but the magnificent cross that bore the penalty of our lawlessness? Certainly not personal pedigree or moral striving. No, our only glory is in the crucified Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. As those declared righteous solely by God’s grace through faith, we now relate to His law in a new way. No longer a burden driving the quest for meritorious works, but an instructive guide teaching those made holy by Jesus’ blood how to live upright lives that honor Him. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Receive God's Righteousness By Faith Alone, Not Works (vv. 21-22): Paul declares the astounding truth that God's very own righteousness is available to us. It is not attained through our fruitless attempts at law-keeping or our pitiful efforts at pulling ourselves up. Rather, it comes as a free gift through simple faith in Jesus. What wondrous grace this is! After hammering home the reality of human sinfulness and lostness, Paul lifts our eyes to divine rescue. God Himself provides the righteousness we lack by offering His own righteousness as a covering for our filthy rags of self-righteousness. There is no longer futile striving and straining or vain toiling to try to earn what cannot be earned. The only appropriate response is grateful reception as we raise empty hands to receive His glorious grace gift. As we finally comprehend that all self-righteous deeds are worthless compared to knowing Christ, we ask the Spirit to etch this truth deeply into our minds and hearts. We understand that performance and works gain nothing, while His power works mightily in those who believe to infuse them with righteousness divine (Ephesians 2:8-10, Philippians 3:4-9, Titus 3:3-7).

Food for thought: How does understanding righteousness by faith encourage you to worship God for His grace? In what areas are you still tempted to try earning righteousness before God? How can you rely more fully on Christ’s righteousness?

  1. Recognize That All People Are Sinners Needing Salvation By Grace (vv. 23-26): Paul starkly confronts any illusion that humans have intrinsic goodness or merit before God. All people have sinned, he declares, falling tragically short of reflecting God’s glory. Every human stands equally guilty before their Creator. But God in His mercy prepares receptive hearts with this hard news for the incredibly good news of salvation by grace. For when all seems darkest as the true hopelessness of our sinful state sets in, the light of Christ shines through with mercy and redemption. Jesus’ atoning sacrifice removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. Though all deserve condemnation, God takes the initiative to justify and redeem the unworthy through His Son’s selfless death on our behalf. Our only fitting response is humble thankfulness and wholehearted commitment to the One whose grace alone can rescue us from the dire consequences of sin. By that same grace we now live with joyful devotion to the Author of our salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Titus 3:3-7).

Food for thought: How does recognizing the universality of human sinfulness make you praise God for His grace? When you are tempted toward pride or self-righteousness, how can remembering that all fall short humble you?

  1. Boast Only In What Christ Has Done, Not Your Own Efforts (vv.  27-28): As Paul so powerfully explains justification by faith alone, he leaves no room for human boasting. On the contrary, this doctrine directly confronts any pride or self-reliance. For we contributed nothing to our own salvation - it is entirely the gift of Christ's finished work on the cross which we receive by faith. How freeing to finally lay down the burden of earning favor through our own efforts! We can now boast without restraint about the wonders of God’s love. Our highest goal becomes magnifying what Jesus achieved for us through the cross. Any tendency to tout personal accomplishments or merits is silenced. As ambassadors of this all-sufficient grace, we should overflow with praise for the sinless Savior (Galatians 6:14, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, Ephesians 2:8-9).

Food for thought: How can boasting in Christ's accomplished work deepen your worship? What subtle ways do you wrongly boast in yourself? How can you turn from self-glory to glory in the cross?

  1. Let the Purpose of the Law Be Fulfilled in You Through Faith in Christ ( 29-31): Paul beautifully connects the purpose of Old Testament law with New Testament faith. He explains that the law serves as our tutor by confronting sin and driving the helpless sinner toward their desperate need for salvation in Christ. Rather than making the law irrelevant, faith in Jesus upholds and confirms the law's purpose. Through the Father’s grace, we now fulfill the ultimate goal of God's commands, which is to live righteously by relying completely on what Christ accomplished for us. The law no longer condemns those who have faith in Jesus, but it instructs them in how to actively love God and neighbor. As James describes, genuine saving faith must manifest itself in good works empowered by the Spirit. All who believe should overflow with righteous fruits of obedience. In this way, faith and law go hand-in-hand - the law leads hopeless sinners to trust their Savior, and authentic faith produces joyful obedience that brings great glory to God (Romans 8:1-4, Galatians 5:16-25, James 2:14-26).

Food for thought: How has gaining righteousness by faith freed and motivated you to obey God in new ways?  Are there any lingering senses that faith abolishes God’s law? How might this passage correct that? Today, Paul explains the amazing truth that our righteous God freely grants His perfect righteousness to all those who put their faith in Christ. Our meager good deeds mean nothing toward earning salvation - all that matters is trusting in what Jesus finished for us through the cross. This undeserved grace leaves no room for pride in ourselves, but only boasting in God's gracious gift. Jesus accomplished what we could never do by providing atonement for sins through His perfect sacrifice. Faith in Christ's redemptive work sets us free from the law's guilty verdict over us. Now with sins washed away in His cleansing blood, we are empowered to obey God's righteous commands out of love and gratitude. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for the amazing truth of justification by faith in Christ’w finished work on the cross alone. I pray that You would help me to live out this precious truth that exalts Your grace. I pray that You would free me from all subtle reliance on personal merit and effort and teach me to daily glory in the sufficient work of Christ, who is my righteousness. Produce in me overflowing gratitude, awe, and obedience by the power of Your Spirit. Help me to proclaim with my lips and demonstrate with my life the superior worth of knowing Jesus above all else. Thank You for the amazing love given at Calvary to cleanse all my sins. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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