The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:26 tells us that God is “just and the justifier of all who have faith in Jesus.” In this message, we consider what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us and the world.


Romans: The Glory of the Gospel, part 9

The Righteousness of God – Romans 3:21-31

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Oct. 22nd, 2017



  • In the first part of chapter 3, we were shown the truth about our old nature and that it is completely depraved and bent only toward sin. We were also taught that those who have the law of God and those who don’t have the law of God are all equally deserving of his wrath. God is just in His judgement against us, and our best arguments to justify ourselves have no merit or substance. According to the Law of God, we are all lawbreakers who rightly are declared “guilty” and are deserving of our sentence.
  • This, my friends, is the truth about the human condition from the revealed word of God. All of us have broken the law of God – either breaking what is written or what is written in our hearts. God’s laws do not free us, but set the standards which make us aware that we are lawbreakers.
  • What are we to do? How can we be righteous? How can we be right in the sight of God and escape His just judgment of our sinfulness?


Righteousness apart from the law


Rom 3:21-22a ESV

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.


  • “But now” . . . after driving the point home that all of us, regardless if you know the word of God or not, against our best arguments and justifications, are deserving of the wrath of God because of our unrighteousness . . . but now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.
  • The law gives us the standard of what righteousness is but it is not righteousness itself. It is the standard but not the substance. We are not declared righteous through the law but through faith in the righteous one, Jesus Christ. Righteousness is from Jesus, not from the law (even though the law and the prophets point to Jesus). Jesus is the righteousness of God.
  • We become the righteousness of God through faith in the righteous one, Jesus Christ, for all who believe. This is for everyone who believes in Christ and puts their faith and trust in Him.
  • Belief and faith in Christ is essential for salvation. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Salvation cannot be earned, but only received by grace through faith in what Christ Jesus became for us by taking the punishment that we have earned and deserve on Himself.


Justified by his grace


Rom 3:21b-25a ESV

For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.


  • All have sinned and fall short of the glory, perfection and righteousness of God, and are justified (declared innocent, free and righteous) by His grace (giving us what we don’t deserve) through the redemption (saving us from the wrath of God brought on by our sin) that is in (and only in) Christ Jesus.
  • Who God the father put forward (which tell us that salvation through His son was His idea) as a propitiation (someone taking the wrath on themselves so that we may be free) . . . Christ’s death appeased divine wrath called forth by sin (atonement) taking what we deserve upon himself (which is foreshadowed in the old testament in the form of the “mercy seat” – the cover for the ark of the covenant where God’s presence dwelt).
  • We have this grace because of what God did through Christ on our behalf: his shed blood to be received by faith.
  • Gaining this understanding of what God did for us through Christ should cause us to exalt, praise, honor, worship, magnify and cherish God above all things.


The just and the justifier


Rom 3:25b-26 ESV

This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.


  • Remember that the gospel is the “righteousness of God revealed,” (Rom 1:16) not the love of God even, though it is an act of supreme love.
  • In His “divine forbearance,” His self-restraint did not bring his wrath on sinfulness. He “passed over” former sins. This is a reference of the “Passover” which happened when the angel of the Lord “passed over” the Israelites that applied blood of a spotless lamb to the doorposts of their homes.
  • Not only is God “just,” He is the “justifier.” He is “just” in who He is, but not only that, He gives justice to others. He could have lived a perfectly righteous life and then left skipping the cross and say, “that is how it is done, now try to live like that.” He is more than “an example.” He is a “justifier.” He gives to us what He requires of us: righteousness so that we can be “equally yoked” to him. It is not that we are equal to Him, but have been made to be like Him having been redeemed by Him to share, reflect, receive and enjoy His glory in relationship with Him forever.
  • Again, all of this comes to us though faith in Jesus, and not by our works and our own merit.


The law of faith


Rom 3:27-31 ESV

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.


  • No one can boast about their goodness, because none of us are good. Instead, we should live in humility, thankfulness, and love. We are justified (made right and declared righteous) by faith apart from the works of the law.
  • God is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles as well. It is not the law that justifies us but faith. Therefore, those who have the law and those who don’t are both justified the same way through faith in the one and only righteous one.
  • We have faith in Jesus because the law is good, right, and true. Our faith does not get rid of the law, but it upholds the law by putting our faith in the one who fulfilled it.
  • Next week, we will dive into chapter 4 where Paul talks extensively about Abraham, his faith and how his faith was “credited to him as righteousness.”



  • Know – Where your salvation comes from and what God has done through Jesus Christ
  • Worship – God for who He is and what He has done for us.
  • Share – the good news of the gospel with those who do not know.


Questions for the week ahead:

  1. What did you learn today about what God has done for us through Jesus Christ?
  2. How does this understanding affect your actions and emotions?