The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:21-26 ESV

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

Examining the Scriptures

When we are studying what are considered to be doctrinal passages of Scripture, especially the doctrine of our salvation, it is critical that we study and interpret these passages of Scripture in their full context. So, please read Romans 3 in light of the whole of Romans, for if you do, and if you are paying close attention to what is being said, it will keep you from wrongfully interpreting what is being said here.

Old and New, What’s the Difference? How are they the same?

So, what is the big difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Well, for one, we don’t have to obey all those old ceremonial, liturgical, sacrificial and purification laws. We don’t need to go through human priests who give sacrifices for our sins once a year. And human beings are no longer our mediators between us and God.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are all kingdom priests, and we all have direct access to the Father. Jesus is our only mediator between us and the Father. We now have God living within us, and we are his temple. We have a lot more freedom than they had, I believe, but it is not freedom to disobey God, as some would have you to believe.

But how were they saved under the Old Covenant? By keeping the law? No! For, if they could be saved by keeping the law we wouldn’t have needed to have Jesus Christ die on a cross for our sins. But they couldn’t because none of us can keep the law perfectly. They were saved by faith, as we are. Their faith was in the promise of the Messiah to come, and ours is in the Messiah who already came.

And another thing we need to understand here is what faith is. Faith comes from God, Jesus is the author and the perfecter of our faith, we can’t even come to faith in Jesus Christ unless God the Father first draws us to Christ. Faith is gifted to us by God, and it is not of ourselves, of our own making. And faith is divine persuasion as to God’s holiness and righteousness and of our sinfulness and of our need to be delivered from our slavery to sin so that we can now walk in holiness in the power of God.

Also, faith is obedience both under the Old Covenant and under the New Covenant. For as God considered then, now, too, he considers faith as obedience and disobedience as unbelief. For, if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (in conduct, in practice) in sin, and if righteousness is not what we practice, and if obedience is not what we practice, then according to the New Testament, we will not inherit eternal life with God.

[Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Rom 2:13; Rom 3:20-31; Rom 6:14-19; Rom 8:1-17; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 2:16-21; Gal 3:2-5, 21; Gal 5:4, 14; Gal 6:2; Eph 2:15; Phil 3:9; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10]

Law vs. Grace

So, when this says that a righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, it is talking about this change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. It is talking about Jesus’ sacrificial death on that cross for our sins so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, in his power. It is not saying that we now become lawless. It just means, for the Jew back then, that he was no longer under the Old Covenant, for now God had made a better covenant.

But this wasn’t teaching that they didn’t have to obey the Lord anymore. God forbid! And if you read all of Romans, you can’t miss that. We still have to obey the commandments of God (under the New Covenant). We still have to obey his moral laws. But our obedience is evidence that our faith in him is genuine faith, like Noah building the ark. If he didn’t build the ark, he would have drowned like everyone else. So, faith = obedience.

Yes, all of us have sinned, and we have all fallen short of attaining God’s divine approval and his righteousness, in and of our own selves. Not one of us can be saved by our own good works. We cannot earn nor do we deserve to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God. Obeying our Lord is not trying to earn salvation. We obey our Lord as part of our salvation and as a necessary component of believing faith in Jesus Christ.

And yes his salvation from sin is a gift to us which we did nothing to earn or to deserve, but the gift is not just deliverance from hell and the hope of heaven when we die. The free gift of God’s grace is deliverance from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and it is empowerment of God’s Spirit to walk in obedience to the Lord and to live righteously. And so it has built-in stipulations along with it.

And those stipulations (requirements, conditions) are that we must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. We must be crucified with Christ in death to sin and be raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Then we must no longer walk in sin, in practice, but now righteousness and obedience are to be what we practice.

But if we choose to remain in sin, living in sin and for self, doing what we want to do while not obeying God’s requirements of us, the Scriptures are clear that salvation is not ours and we will not inherit eternal life with God, if this is how we continue to live and if we don’t repent (turn from our sin to obey our Lord). For, this all comes back to what faith is and what the gift is and to how we receive that faith and that gift. So, read all of Romans.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

Pie Jesu

Songwriter: Andrew Lloyd-Webber

Merciful Jesus,
Pie Jesu,

Who takes away the sins of the world
Qui tollis peccata mundi

Give them rest, grant them rest
Dona eis requiem, dona eis requiem

Lamb of God
Agnus Dei,

Who takes away the sins of the world
Qui tollis peccata mundi

Grant them eternal rest
Dona eis requiem



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