Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God come through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him [Christ] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
We are at the mountain top of one of the greatest theological treatises in Scripture—the book of Romans.
If you grasp the truths contained in these seven verses, then you understand the doctrine of salvation. In essence, the main point in this treatise is this: To be saved you must be justified by God.
Justification is a legal term that simply means you have been ‘declared righteous’ by God who has set a day when he will judge the world by his standard of righteousness. To be declared righteous means to be without sin. So how can God declare sinners righteous? Reread the seven verses. Then sit in these three truths about our redemption from our both gracious and righteous Judge.
1. No one will be declared righteous by observing the law. Why? Because it is impossible. We are all sinners. The law makes this clear. Do you know anyone who has been able to perfectly keep the Ten Commandments? How about you? When was the last time you told a lie? When was the last time you coveted something that does not belong to you? Believe it or not, we have all broken every single one of these ten laws. So it is very foolish to believe we imperfect people can be declared righteous by keeping the law that has a perfect standard! The purpose of the law was and is to make us aware of how truly sinful we all are and then lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
2. God did not leave us in our helpless condition. He provided a way for us to receive his righteousness. The Law and the Prophets, a phrase referring to the entire Old Testament, point to His way. The Old Testament shines its light on the One who would come into the world and keep the Law perfectly. That One is Jesus Christ—the Savior of the world. Because God is just, He could not leave sin unpunished. But because God also loves the ones He made, He provided a way to be just and justify those who trust Him. Amen.
3. God upheld His justice and revealed His grace by sending His Son to die for the sins of the world. Jesus became the ‘sacrifice of atonement’ as God the Father poured out His wrath on the lamb. Jesus’s death on the cross was foreshadowed by the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law, yet He willingly died in our place on the cross and took on the punishment for sins committed throughout all of time. Now, all we have to do is have faith in His blood, in His sacrifice.
All of Scripture points to this ‘sacrifice of atonement’ – the one moment in history where God provided a way for us to be declared righteous in His sight apart from the Law: the cross.
When you have been declared righteous by God, that means that all of your sins – past, present and future – have been forgiven by Him. Thus, when God looks at you through the shed blood of His Son, He sees you as perfectly holy and righteous. And this declaration once made of you can never be revoked. This is why the Gospel is truly such good news!
But how can you be sure that God has declared you righteous? Come to the cross by faith and receive Jesus into your heart by faith (John 1:12-13). Confess your sinfulness to God. Receive his forgiveness. Then repent! Turn away from your sins by His power and walk in the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit who now lives in you.