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Romans 3:21-31



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 comes 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 as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.

(verses 21-25)

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The build-up to this point has been painful. Everyone is in trouble. Both those under law and those without law are found grievously lacking. Condemned. For no one is righteous. None is good enough. All fall short. It’s an incredibly painful indictment.


But verse 21 comes as a trumpet blast of good news. Relief is in sight! Finally. The little phrase “but now” introduces it, damming up the flood of bad news that has preceded and releasing a torrent of overwhelming good news to flow over us. There’s now a righteousness from God himself in which we can take part. It doesn’t come from the law. No. Rather, it comes as sheer gift. It comes (wait for it … do you hear the trumpet sounding?) through none other than Jesus Christ.


Amen! What relief! What joy! The weight is off. The oppressive burden is lifted. This righteousness doesn’t come about through struggle. Rather, it is received simply by faith. It comes directly from God’s hand. When we couldn’t do it, ever, he stepped in. What we do now is simply receive – we embrace the gift by faith, trusting the Lord’s solution is more than adequate for our need, huge as that need is.


Indeed, the need is perhaps bigger than we had thought. We discover this, if we hadn’t seen it before, in a word that’s used in verse 25. It’s translated here (NIV translation) as “sacrifice of atonement,” but behind it is a Greek word that has even more ‘edge’ to it – the word is “propitiation.” It’s not a word we use very regularly, but means “to turn aside wrath.” The reference is God’s wrath – his righteous and just anger toward our sin. This means that not only have we “fallen short,” but we have also provoked the Lord God Almighty. In our sin we have offended his justice. We have earned his judgement. We have become, as Paul says elsewhere, objects of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).


What is so remarkably unexpected is that our offended God is the very one who has stepped forward to rescue us out of our impossible predicament. He himself has provided the solution, offering his Son as the propitiation – the sacrifice that turns aside wrath.


Note: Lest we think this unfair of the Father, we need to put it together with other Scriptures that clearly tell us Jesus himself chose to lay down his own life (John 10:11, 15; 15:13-14) and that the Father himself was intimately involved in that sacrifice (“God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” 2 Corinthians 5:19).


The end of the story? Incredible relief! “But now” breaks in. “A righteousness from God” becomes our possession. It “comes through faith,” meaning all we do is trust. It comes “in Jesus Christ” – praise his name!

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O Lord – thank you! The relief is real. Righteousness is received. You are the One who has done it. Thank you. Praise your name.

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Give Thanks:

All day. Call to mind, again and again: “But now a righteousness from God … has been made known.” Meditate on this incredible good news. Give thanks.

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Photo by Shivam Kumar on Unsplash

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