Romans Chapter 3
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
We are looking at Chapter 3 in Paul’s letter to the Romans this week. Yesterday, I discussed the picture of mankind that Paul put together by combining several passages from the Psalms and Ecclesiastes. That was this passage:
Romans 3:10-18 As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; (11) THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. (12) THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; THEY HAVE TOGETHER BECOME UNPROFITABLE; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, NO, NOT ONE." (13) "THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN TOMB; WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY HAVE PRACTICED DECEIT"; "THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS"; (14) "WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS." (15) "THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD; (16) DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR WAYS; (17) AND THE WAY OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN." (18) "THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES."
We went with Paul from there to this passage:
Romans 3:21-22 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.
And that’s where we left off. I want to bring to your attention again the key phrases of this passage and we see those when the verse is boiled down and stripped of its sub clauses. If we do that, we see that it reads: “…the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed… to all and on all who believe.” I discussed the fact that this verse tells us that it is the righteousness of God that it is revealed and not our righteousness. This righteousness is revealed through faith in Jesus Christ, and is revealed to all and ON all who believe. So, if you follow this, then, the righteousness of God is revealed on all who believe. Think this through and I think you’ll see some startling implications.
That’s the end of the sentence in Romans, but there’s a little more to the actual verse and there’s definitely some more to this chapter. Let’s see what we’ve got now…
Romans 3:21-26 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.
There’s a lot to cover here!!! Paul says “For there is no difference” and he is referring to Jews and Gentiles. Up to here in Romans, he’s been contrasting and comparing Jews who have the law written in books and Gentiles who have the law written in their conscience and now he sums all this up and says “For there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Both Jew and Gentile have committed sins against God and neither group comes even close to attaining the glory of God. Again, this simply points out that, as Revelation 15 tells us “God alone is holy.” Since man is not holy, he falls short of the glory of God, but this poses a problem since God cannot fellowship with unholiness.
The solution, however, is found in Paul’s next words when he says “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” The word “justified” here refers to a legal term which means “declared not guilty.” So, even though all have sinned, those who believe in Jesus Christ have their sins paid for and are declared “not guilty” by God.
Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit, says that this justification is given “freely”. By that, he means that it cannot be earned, bought, or owed. Justification through Christ is a free gift of God and we can see that from several additional passages, including:
Romans 5:15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (9) not of works, lest anyone should boast.
That this justification comes only through Jesus Christ should be abundantly clear. Paul has previously said in verse 22 “…even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ…” and he now says “…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” There are so many words here that bear a much closer look, including “justified”, “freely”, “grace”, and “redemption”, and I highly encourage you to think about the implications of these words- what do they MEAN and how do they apply to YOU? However, right now I want to finish up with this passage before we lose sight of the big picture.
After telling us that there is free justification through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, Paul tells how exactly how this is accomplished when he says “…whom God set forth as propitiation by His blood…” I’ll say it again- this word “propitiation” is the key to understanding the gospel message. The word means “to appease wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person” according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary. Jesus was the one who appeased the wrath of God toward us and enabled reconciliation of man with God. If we can see this, we can see why it is so necessary that our faith be in Jesus Christ and not in ourselves or in any other means. If there were any other means by which reconciliation could have been accomplished, God would not have had to send Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus himself brings up this point in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane on the eve of the crucifixion when he says:
Matthew 26:39-42 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (…. (42) Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."
It was, however, necessary for Jesus to die in order that those who believe in the sufficiency of his sacrifice might live. It is by his blood that we are saved. Isaiah speaks of this:
Isaiah 53:3-7 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (4) Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. (5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (6) All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (7) He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
And Peter refers to it:
1 Peter 2:21-25 … Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: (22) "WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH"; (23) who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; (24) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness- by whose stripes you were healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
These passages prophesy and show the necessity of Christ literally taking our sins on himself.
Returning to our passage in Romans 3, we have:
Romans 3:24-26 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.
Again, we see that this gospel message demonstrates God’s own righteousness. Never lose sight of that fact. If you are a Christian, you do benefit from the gospel message, but it ultimately is for God’s own glory. The gospel message magnifies God holiness, His mercy, His love, His justice, and His righteousness. You have none of things in and of yourself, but thanks be to God, these things are laid upon you. To demonstrate this, our chapter in Romans will end with this statement:
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
Natural Man could not even observe the law but with the righteousness of God laid upon him, he can now actually establish the law. What a contrast!
The last phrase I’d like to look at today is the one that says “…that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Again, we see that faith in Jesus Christ is essential for justification. Beyond that, though, we see that through the free gift of faith in Jesus Christ, God Himself remains just- sin is still punished- but also becomes the justifier. By calling sinners to Christ, God then declares them “not guilty”. This tells us that God is the one to whom the debt is owed. Some people seem to think that our debt is owned to Satan but this could not be further from the truth. Our sin is not against Satan, it is against God and it is to Him that propitiation is made.
Well, there’s Romans 3:21-26. It’s quite a section of Scripture and there’s so much more there that we’ve only glimpsed at. To summarize, we see that no one can be justified by the deeds of the law. To the contrary, the law exposes our shortcomings and reveals that all fall short of the glory of God. But now, the righteousness of God is seen apart from the law. The Old Testament gives witnesses to this righteousness. Rather than being justified through the law, justification comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who made the payment for sins and is the propitiation for those who believe in him. All who believe in Christ’s atoning work are declared not guilty by God Himself. All of this is spelled out clearly in the passage we’ve just looked at.
Join me tomorrow here on KLMX radio as we finish up Romans chapter 3. I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church, Des Moines, NM. May God grant you insight into the deep riches that are Jesus Christ. Amen.
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