The Righteousness of God: The Hope of Salvation.
Read: Rom. 3:21-28.
“The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe”
The most perplexing question confronting us in our understanding of God’s character and nature is not: “How can a loving God judge sinners?” Rather the question that defies human explanation is: “How can a just and righteous God accept sinners?” If we are truly honest with ourselves, and as sinful beings we are often not, we would have to admit that we are sinners by nature and by actions. To truly understand the righteousness of God is to be deeply confronted with how far we fall short in attaining his standard. There is not a day goes by in which we do not violate and disregard his standard of right and wrong. When we stand before God, we will do so without excuse. We have chosen and we continually chose to go our own way and reject God. Consequently, all of us stand before God as guilty breakers of his law and, as a result, we are deserving of his wrath (vs 23). While we want to trivialize sin and categorize sin according to some degree of severity, we fail to recognize that all sin, however minor in our eyes, is an affront to the holiness of God and a complete rejection of his law. To break one of is laws is to break all his laws. This brings us to the inevitable consequence we must face; we are all sinners worthy of judgment. Thus, we are confronted again with the question, “How can a just and righteous God accept us as sinners?”
This is the question Paul is asking in this passage. Since we are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God, how can we be saved? Certainly, it is not through our own righteousness and obedience to the law. For we have all rebelled against God and stand guilty in his presence. The more we attempt to earn our salvation through our own efforts the more we reveal how far short we come (vs 19-20).
The answer to our great dilemma is found in Christ. Christ became the propitiation for our sin. The word “propitiation” refers to reality that Christ become our substitute when he bore the infinite wrath of God for our sin so that, instead of being the object of God’s wrath, we are now the objects of his favor. The result is that we can no longer boast in our own abilities or powers, rather we can boast only in the work of Christ. In other words, Christ did for us to accomplish what we could never achieve for ourselves. By his actions we are no longer regarded as guilty before God, rather we are now declared innocent. In his death, he took upon himself the penalty for all our sins in the past, present and future, so now we are not only free from the penalty of sin, but we are elevated to the position of being children of God. This is what brings us back to the question. If our sin is a complete rejection of God’s character and a personal affront to his righteousness so that we are the objects of his wrath, then why would he ever be moved to offer us not only salvation, but a position of being his loved children who are now co-heirs with Christ? No wonder, after contemplating the complete work of Christ on our behalf in Romans chapters 1-11, Paul concludes by stating “O the Death of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His Ways!” If we do not marvel at his grace towards us, then we do not grasp the severity of our sin and the splendor his righteousness. When we are going through trials it is easy to question God’s goodness and grace. But all we have to do is look back at the cross to realize that the extent of God’s grace towards us is indeed immeasurable. In times of trials we may not understand what he is now doing, but we can find joy in what he has already done.