“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)
The conclusion of man's condemnation is now the focus for the rest of chapter three. Paul says, “Now we know....” This verb is in the perfect tense, the strongest in biblical Greek. What is about to be spoken cannot be reversed, regardless of man's opinion. “...what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law....” All mankind is under the law. This is not directed at the Jew only but to all mankind. Mankind is universally under God's judgment. The next phrase is extremely important to understand. In one simple statement, God gives the clear purpose of the law, “...that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” God's law was never meant to bring justification, but conviction. It is intended to be a guide, not a redeemer, as described in Galatians 3:22, 24, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe...Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” God's eye is all-seeing. He has personally seen every man break His holy law; therefore, all mankind stands guilty in God's sight. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The word for knowledge means to experience or to come to know (by experience). The rebellion of the human heart is quickly brought into view once rules are established. The law doesn't help justify the human heart; it condemns it. The flesh is lawless; therefore, law could never be its means of justification.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:21-23)
God's righteousness does not require the help of law's nature. His righteousness is able to stand alone. This is not to say that law is in conflict with His righteousness, but rather, His righteousness is the reason that law exists. God does not need standards. He is the Standard! The verb manifested is in the perfect tense. God's righteousness has been made clear unto all through the Person of Jesus Christ and this cannot be reversed, and not only that, but the effects of this holy manifestation will forever be profitable to the believing heart. God's righteousness is not carried by the law but witnessed by the law. The prophets were also given as a testimony to what the law has always made clear concerning the righteous character of God.
The most encouraging news is that this righteousness is available to all who will put their faith Jesus Christ. The Old Testament believer was redeemed by looking forward to the justification the Messiah would impart, while the New Testament believer is redeemed by looking back to the justification the Messiah has offered. The text makes it clear that this righteousness is obtained by no other means than simple faith. The text also says, “...unto all....” This demonstrates the fact that God's grace is for every man, while “...upon all them that believe....” demonstrates the fact that His grace is only efficacious to the one who will humble his heart in simple faith. Salvation is offered to all men, but it only comes upon the man who will believe.
“...for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” God offers His salvation to all without any respect of persons. Man picks and chooses those to whom he will be kind. Such are not God's ways. Mankind is universally unworthy; therefore, God has chosen to show universal grace. The phrase “for all have sinned” is focusing on a past point-in-time action, while the phrase “come short” is focusing on a present continuous action. A literal translation would thus read, “For all have sinned, and are falling short of the glory of God.” Man is condemned by his past as well as his continuous present failures.