Follow Along

Get new posts by email:

Sunday, November 02, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "Justified"

“Justified”
All Roads Lead to Romans
November 2, 2014 :: Romans 3:21-26 

And we’ve finally made it to the good stuff.

Verse 21 begins, “But now.”

We’re turning the corner from the “Bad News” section of Romans to the “Best of News” section of Romans.

“But now.”

This paragraph, these 6 verses, contain some of the most precious sentences in the whole Bible.

Some have said that they are the heart of the gospel. They are the heart of this letter and even the most important paragraph in the whole New Testament!

Whether or not that’s true, and I don’t know how you can tell, they are incredibly important and incredibly sweet and precious. This paragraph just drips with spiritual honey and eternal life-changing truth.

If you thought the last several messages on the Bad News, the Even Worse News, and the Worst News were depressing, this paragraph more than makes up for them.

And it does it in large part because of one main word, “Righteousness.” In Greek, dikaiosunay.

That word or a form of that Greek word appears seven times in these 6 verses!

And one of the problems we have in going from Greek to English is that we tend to use different words to translate that Greek word depending on what we mean. So, you might miss that Paul uses that word 7 times in 6 verses. Sometimes the English versions translate it, “Righteousness,” but other times it is “justice.” Basically the same idea, different words in English.

I’m going to read this to you, and I’m going to emphasize to underline every word that has that dikaios root in Greek so you can hear it with your own ears.

“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 [same root word, 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. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

This is a very precious paragraph.

You can hear how it picks up where Paul left off in Romans 1:16-17.

Remember back to Paul’s statement that he is not ashamed of the gospel?

Look back at Romans 1:16 and 17.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. [We memorized that. Why is the gospel so powerful?] For in the gospel a righteousness [dikaiosunay] from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Do you hear that righteous word in there?

That’s really important.

Because we have a righteousness problem.

That’s what Romans 1:18 said. Next verse.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,”

And that word “wickedness” is “adikia.” Un-righteousness.

The bad news that we have seen over and over again is that the wrath of God is coming because of our unrighteousness.

And that’s true for Gentiles even though they don’t have the Law. Because deep down they know enough to condemn them.

And it’s true for the Jews even though they do have the Law because they do not keep it.

Jew and Gentiles are all under the power of sin.

And we learned last week that there is no wiggling out of this unrighteousness problem. And there is no working ourselves out of this unrighteousness problem, either.

Chapter 3, verse 20.

“No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

We ended last week by saying on our own we are doomed.

“But now.”

Something has changed.
Something has happened that changes everything.

And by it, we are “Justified.”

That should be one of your favorite words.

We don’t have an English word “righteousified,” but maybe we should!

To be justified means to be declared righteous.

To have the status of being righteous, to be found in the right.

And it’s a glorious thing to be justified!

Because for people who are justified, it means the end of God’s wrath.

God’s wrath comes on those who are declared un-righteous.

But it does not come on those who are declared righteous.

Those who are justified.

Do you see how important that concept is?

And actually, there are two different ones who are justified in some sense in this passage. And today, we’ll talk about both of them.

The first is US.

#1. US.

Those of us who belong to Jesus are justified.

That’s what this precious passage teaches.

Let’s look at the details. V.21

“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.” Stop there for a second.

I love that “but now.”

That’s a seismic shift from what we’ve seen so far in Romans 1-3.

So far, we’ve seen that all of humanity deserves the wrath of God. We have asked for it by exchanging God for stuff. For suppressing what we know about God and worshiping God-substitutes. For pretending and playing at being good but actually being bad. For being unrighteous.

“But now.”

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made know (v.21) and (v.22) it comes to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

This is precious.

How precious?

At least six ways.

First, it comes “apart from law.”

Now, what does that mean?  It could mean that it comes apart from law-keeping. That would fit with verse 20 is saying that no one will be declared righteous by works of the law.  And that is definitely true. This is righteousness does not come through our law-keeping, our works. We’ll see that more in a second.

But it probably means “being learned about apart from the Old Testament Law.” Meaning that something new has happened. This righteousness of God has come on the scene in a way that you need a new revelation to get. It’s not in the Old Testament.

But at the same time Paul doesn’t want us to think that it wasn’t hidden in the Old Testament. It was there, too. V.21 again, “apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.” They pointed towards this new thing in shadows and signs, but now that the new thing is here for us to clearly see.

And here’s what it is v.22

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

How precious is that?

It comes “through faith.”

Not through works!  It does come by our hard efforts.

It doesn’t come through our self improvement.

It doesn’t come through our being good people.

It doesn’t come by works. It comes by rest.  By our resting on this person Jesus Christ.

And more than that, this righteousness comes through faith...

“To all who believe.”

Paul uses the same word for faith or belief twice in that one verse. Pistis is the word.

“Through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe.”

Why does he repeat himself?  Because he wants to emphasize that’s faith.

And it’s faith for ALL who believe. He says (v.21), “There is no difference.”

Difference between what?

What do you think?  By now you should think, “Jew and Gentile,” right?

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile.
No difference between Israeli and Palestinian. Just as lost. V.23

“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

So if all have sinned, all have been found in this state of sin, then there is no difference between Jew and Gentile.

We are all in the same sinful boat, and we can all, with no difference, enter into the same saved boat and be justified. V.24

“...and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

To all who believe.

Justified.

In Greek, “dikaioumenoi.” Being justified. Being declared righteous.

That’s one the most important Bible words for everyone to know.

It’s so precious.

Here’s another reason why. It’s free!

“justified freely by his grace...”

Justification is not something we earn.
It’s not something that Christians work their way up to.

It’s free. It’s a gift. It’s by grace.

Grace is unmerited favor. It’s blessings that we don’t deserve.

Justification is by grace.

That’s what all the fuss was about between Martin Luther and the medieval church back at the Reformation.

It’s been just about 500 years since Martin Luther pounded his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenburg. He did it on October 31st.

And he kicked off the Protestant Reformation which was, in large part, a rediscovery of Paul’s gospel of grace.

Justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

V.24, “justified freely by his grace.”

Justification does not come through your good works or my good works.

Your righteousness is not enough.

You need God’s righteousness.

And that is enough!

“justified freely by his grace.” How precious.

It’s free to you and me.

But it was costly to Him. V.24

By his grace “through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Do you see how every word is precious?

“Through the redemption.”

What’s that mean?

The word here means to be pay a price to free something or someone. To buy back. To redeem means to pay a cost for something to go free, to be liberated.

It was often used of slaves that were paid for to set them free.

In the New Testament, this payment, this cost was not paid to Satan or to some other cosmic force but it was paying the debt that our sin had incurred. Basically, to God’s own justice.

Our salvation is free to us, but it cost Jesus so much!

What did it cost Him?  V.25

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”

Some of your versions have “propitiation” where the NIV has “sacrifice of atonement.”

The Greek word is “hilasterion.”

And that words is connected in the Greek version of the Old Testament with the mercy seat. With the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant.

With the day of atonement when a sacrifice was made to make atonement the sin of the people.

In other words, Jesus Christ had to die as a sacrifice to satisfy the righteous wrath of God.

It’s the Cross.

You know, I told Heather last night that it was difficult to prepare this message, not because the news in it was bad, but because we’re so familiar with it.

I think that I preach this message every single week. I try to! It’s the gospel. I try to make this gospel clear every single week and show how it ties to every single passage that we study together.

But here it is in a pure, undistilled, form.

Jesus died on the Cross as a propitiation for our sins.

He absorbed the wrath of God.

That’s what it took for us to be justified. To be declared righteous.

It took the death of Jesus Christ.

“God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.”

How precious is this!

Redemption through Propitiation.

By Grace Through Faith.

To All Who Believe.

Apart from the Law.

Justified!

What a gospel! What good news!

Justified!

That’s how God solves our righteousness problem.

And it’s also how God solves His righteousness problem.

#2. GOD.

Does God have a problem with righteousness?

Not any more!

He was never unrighteous, but it might have looked like it. V.25

“God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice [same word, righteousness, dikaiosunay], because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–he did it to demonstrate his [righteousness, dikaiosunay] justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

Think about this for second.

Do you like it when criminals get away unpunished?

Neither does God.

It offends God when the guilty go unpunished.

Listen to these three passages from the Old Testament.

Exodus 23:7 “Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.”

Proverbs 17:15, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent–the LORD detests them both.”

Proverbs 24:24&25, “Whoever says to the guilty, ‘You are innocent’–peoples will curse him and nations denounce him. But it will go well with those who convict the guilty, and rich blessing will come upon them.”

That’s justice.

People getting what they deserve for their crimes.

But God, in His wise forbearance, had left the sins before the Cross unpunished.

That’s talking about those who belonged to God before Jesus.

Their sins were passed over. They were forgiven. And there wasn’t a sacrifice great enough to pay for their sins!

The blood of bulls and goats won’t do it. Not really.

The blood rams and lambs won’t do it. Not really.

So the question is was God truly righteous? Was He truly just?

Sometimes we wonder if God is just to blast us when we do wrong.

The real question is why doesn’t God blast us when we do wrong?

Why didn’t God blast everyone from Adam to John the Baptist?

Is that wrath of God really coming? Is it trustworthy?

Or does everyone just get a pass?

No, God is just. He is righteous. He is unswervingly committed to His glory.

He always does what is right. He never does what is wrong.

He is holy, holy, holy, and the wrath of God must come on unrighteusness.

So to demonstrate His righteousness, God used the Cross.

God presented Jesus as a propitiation to satisfy His own justice. Jesus took our place. He died in our place and paid the penalty for our sin.

And He gave us His righteousness.

His righteous status.

Not as a legal fiction, but now as a legal fact.

We are declared righteous because of what Jesus did for us.

V.25. “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 [right] and the one who justifies [declares right] those who have faith in Jesus.”

He grants us His saving righteousness.

He is just. He is justified, and rightly so.

Isn’t that glorious?

Here’s the big question. Who gets justified?

V.26

“Those who have faith in Jesus.”

Do you have faith in Jesus?

Have you put your faith, your belief, your hope squarely down on Him?

John 1 says “to all who received him, to those who believed [had faith] in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

“Those who have faith in Jesus” are the ones who are justified.

Not just believing things about Jesus.

But believing in Jesus.

Not trusting in our good works, our church affiliation, our baptisms, our religiosity, our charity, our family, our familiarity with spiritual things.

But faith in Jesus and Jesus alone.

That’s who gets justified.

***

Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News

0 comments: