Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Conclusion of Man's Condemnation (Part II)

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24)

In stark contrast to the condemnation of the law, man is now pointed toward the hope which is found in Christ. The word justified means to pronounce righteous or to declare righteous. The man who puts his faith in Jesus Christ is given the righteousness of God and brought up to God's standard through the righteousness of Christ. All of this is done freely, apart from any good deeds on the behalf of the sinner. Grace is unmerited favor. God, in His goodness, has chosen to give man an opportunity to be redeemed. The word redemption means a buying back. Jesus Christ paid the price for man's sin. The one who puts his faith in Christ is forever purchased from the slave-market of sin. It may seem terribly obvious; however, it is important to note that this one simple verse gives no room for any other redeemer. Christ, who is God, is the only Redeemer found in Scripture.

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:25)

The whom is referring back to Christ. Set forth has the idea of public display. God has not accomplished man's redemption in secret. The events of Calvary are for all to know. The purpose of Christ's sacrifice on the cross is so that He might be a propitiation. This word means to make amends for or to appease. On the cross, Christ became sin for man, and God's wrath was appeased toward individual sin. This same word is translated mercy seat in Hebrews 9:5. This appeasement toward sin may be individually obtained through faith; however, it is not simply a faith without specific direction; it is faith in Christ's blood. Many individuals boast themselves of having “a faith.” Sadly, all too often this refers to a general belief that God does exist and that He may be called upon in a time of need. This is not a true faith, nor is it a worthy faith. Faith may be directed towards many things. Man is intensely religious and capable of having great faith in himself and other false gods; but the only productive faith is a faith which is directed towards the blood of Jesus Christ. Sin is abominable in the eyes of God and can only be purged by means of blood, and not just any blood; it must be the blood of Jesus Christ, the sinless one. declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Through the Person of Christ, God has put His righteousness on public display and declared it to all the world. The purpose is so that man might find remission, or forgiveness, of sins. The text says sins that are past. The participle which has been translated past is acting as an adjective, modifying sin. This participle is in the perfect tense, which means it is giving the consequences of the sin an enduring quality. The consequences of sin do not simply go away with time. Sin must be paid for. In context, this seems to be referring to all the sins of Old Testament saints which received full payment on the cross. Even though men such as Abraham were fully justified by faith, their sin still had to be dealt with. It could not simply be excused. Sin's destructive nature will have eternal affects if not dealt with in the Person of Christ. All of this is made possible through God's forbearance or long-suffering nature.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)

In a reaffirming manner, the Holy Spirit once again puts forth the righteousness of God. This is needed since man is intensely self-righteous. Even a Christian is constantly plagued by the desire to push his own works rather than submit to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The purpose of declaring the righteousness of Christ is so that He alone might be just or righteous (same word translated both ways). God the Father will accept, as completely righteous, none other but His Son, Jesus Christ, and because He is completely just, He is able to completely justify the one who comes to Him in simple faith.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:27-28)

Truly, this is a marvelous close to such a divine discussion. The question is asked, “Where is boasting?” At this point, is man left any room to put his own goodness on display? Only a fool would continue to argue. At this juncture, boasting has been excluded or shut out. The verb excluded is passive which means that the action is being done to the subject boasting. God has seen to it that man's self-righteous boasting has been shut out and man has no say in the matter. This has been accomplished by the simple law of faith, not works. Thus, the grand conclusion is reached. Man can only be justified through faith. Justification will never come through the law. Only Christ has flawlessly kept the law and earned the title JUST. He alone is The Just One (Acts 7:52). Verse 28 reiterates what David wrote in Psalm 143:2, “And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Outside of Christ's righteousness, man cannot stand in God's presence.

Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:29-31)

As stated before, God does not respect personage. He is interested in the salvation of all mankind. The text says that by faith the Jew is declared righteous, and that through faith the Gentile is declared righteous. As Christ said, “...salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22).” The covenant of faith was first made with Abraham. This is the foundation upon which all else is built. The use of these two different prepositions seems to be reminding the reader that God brought salvation out of the Jewish nation (Christ is a Jew) and the Gentile world has reaped the benefits of such benevolence. Such a reminder should spark an attitude of humility and gratitude in the heart of the Gentile reader.

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Since the law of God is designed to point a man to faith in Jesus Christ, its purpose and validity are not harmed but rather confirmed and complimented when such faith is exercised.

The righteousness of God has been the topic at the beginning and at the end of this discourse on man's condemnation. It was the answer in the Old Testament and it is the answer in the New. All men have been exposed as sinners and worthy of eternal hellfire. Jesus Christ has paid the price for sin and offers redemption freely to all; however, this redemption can only be appropriated through simple faith, a subject to be discussed at great length in the following verses.

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