Continuing from Romans 3:21-24 in the previous article, if Paul had just stopped this thought at verse 24, there would still be a lot of good news in this chapter. However, led by the Holy Spirit, Paul continued to explain how God provided a means of salvation for us.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, 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.
Romans 3:25-26 NIV
For those who might argue that God “cheated”, and bent the rules to let human beings back into fellowship with Himself (in His perfect holiness), these next couple of verses show how His plan all worked together to save humanity while never compromising His nature, nor violating any of the cosmic principles of good and evil (which, I suppose, are actually defined by His nature in the first place).
Like the ram provided to Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), or the sacrifice made on the Day of Atonement for the Jews (see Leviticus 16), Jesus became a sacrifice of “substitutionary atonement”, substituting our unrighteousness for His righteousness, and taking our place. And, just like God offered Abraham righteousness through faith, this pronouncement of righteousness is available to us through faith.
Furthermore, God was patient with others in His plan, preserving the line of David until Jesus became a sacrifice for us. In addition, God was patient with us as individuals when we first sinned, preserving us so that we could receive this justification.
This passage ends with one of my favorite statements, describing how God proves His righteousness through the results of this holy plan: He is just (He remained righteous and faithful, and did not leave sin permanently unpunished) and He is the justifier (He is the one who pronounced us righteous, through our faith in Jesus).
We see God’s holiness demonstrated through both His wrath (taken on by Jesus for our sins) and His love (where God sacrificed for our redemption).
Both of these points are worthy of celebration. We weren’t created by a God who bends the rules of right and wrong when He wants to. He is always unchanging, perfect, and holy. He is just. In addition, we serve a God who loves us more than we can fully understand. In His grace – giving us blessings that we did not deserve – He gave of Himself to take on the punishment that we deserved, so that we could be pronounced righteous through His grace. He is the justifier.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for February 6, 2022
- The Lookout, February 6, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.