World English Bible translation
3:19Now we know that whatever things the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God. 3:20 Because by the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight. For through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 3:21 But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; 3:22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 3:24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 3:25 whom God set forth to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done before, in the forbearance of God; 3:26 for the showing of his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.
The Law speaks for those that are under the Law, to convict man of sin. The Law cannot declare a man to be righteous. Only God can declare a person to be righteous. The Law only leads us to the truth of sin and convicts us of our inability to overcome evil. Through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
So God, apart from the Law, has revealed a righteousness that is based on faith in Jesus Christ. All who believe in Jesus Christ and become united with Him will be declared righteous apart from the Law. Their sins and their rebellion will no longer separate them from God. This righteousness is the same that has been testified to from the time of the Law and the prophets. Now, it is made complete.
All men have sinned, Jew and Gentile. All have fallen short of the glory of God. Now all may be justified by God's grace. God sent Jesus to redeem a people for Himself, to buy them out of the bonds of slavery to sin and to set them free to serve the living and true God. Jesus Christ redeemed these people by becoming an "atoning sacrifice." His death paid the penalty for sin. All who have faith in His sacrifice will be saved.
For centuries before the death of Christ and for centuries afterward, God "passed over" sins. Sins were not immediately punished. He allowed sacrifice and penance as a shadow of the time when Christ would come and reconcile God's creation to the Creator. Now Christ has shown the righteousness of God because He was willing to bear the guilt and sin for the whole world. Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for all sin. He bore the penalty for sin once for all time. The penalty for sin is death and the judgment was executed upon Jesus of Nazareth.
Sin has been judged and executed. Now God is free to show mercy and grace. All who have faith in Christ are united with Him in His death to sin and to His resurrection to a new, holy life. We become one with Christ and with each other. Christ dies to sin once. He cannot die to it again. Because we are united with Christ, we share in His righteousness.
It is Paul's understanding that all men are lost outside of this righteousness that God is now offering. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Without the righteousness that God grants through faith in Jesus Christ we will all die in our transgressions and sin. It does not matter how religious a person is or how nice they seem compared with other people. God's requirement is perfect righteousness. God is completely sinless. They righteousness that is revealed at this time meets the rigid standard of the holiness of God because it is based in the eternal relationship of the Father and the Son. The Son was the perfect atoning sacrifice that was sent by the Father.
Verses 21-24 are the heart of the Epistle to the Romans. Preaching the Gospel of Christ was the consuming passion of Paul's life. He had witnessed the Risen Christ and his life was completely changed. Paul would not live satisfied until everyone he knew could see that same vision in his own life. Paul wanted all men to know that God's righteousness was available to everyone. God was within reach of man. God had brought Himself near to us in the person of His Son.
God's invitation is open to everyone. There is no one excluded. We are all completely helpless without it. What is your answer to him? Has God's righteousness found a place in your life? Does Christ live in your heart by faith?
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