Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Justification by Faith (Romans 3)

"… even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe …" (Rom. 3:22).

As we learned in the previous lesson, all mankind is hopelessly lost because of sin. Every person begins life guilty of transgressing God’s law and is under the condemnation of death. Only in Christ can that penalty be paid and the condemnation lifted. Yet, the question still remains, “How can a just God declare sinful men righteous?” The answer to this question is found in a biblical understanding of justification by faith in Christ alone.

Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Previously in chapter three Paul explained that the reason there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ is because they are covered by the righteousness of Christ: “But now the righteousness of God apart from law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for 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” (Rom. 3:21–24). This justification is an act of God whereby He judicially declares sinners to be just, clearing them of any condemnation under the law. This is an objective act of God, meaning that even though we are still sinful, our legal status before God is no longer one of guilt.

This justification is accomplished through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which means His righteousness is credited to our account. Christ has taken upon Himself our unrighteousness on the Cross, and His righteousness is transferred to our accounts. Christ Jesus is our Redeemer and Savior because He is the very source of our righteousness. Only by faith can we receive the merit and righteousness of Christ. Therefore, justification by faith alone really means justification by Christ alone.

Some have erroneously believed that since we are declared righteous and just we can live however we want. Though justification is an objective declaration by God, He also changes the hearts of sinners and, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, transforms them into His image—a sanctifying process that comes to completion when we die and are glorified in His presence.

Read 2 Corinthians 5:17–21. On what basis does God not count men’s sins against them? What does it mean to be reconciled to God? How has God made you a new creation? What old things have passed away? What new things have come by God’s grace? Remember and be thankful for God’s good work in you.