Rom 3:19-22 “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. 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:”
There is a very simple and clear principle set forth here. The law applies to those who are subject to the law. The children of Israel were held to a standard not applied to others. God’s judgement of Israel was due to Israel’s actions under God’s law. God’s judgement of the Gentiles around Israel was due to the manner in which they treated His chosen nation rather than whether they obeyed the law of Moses.
When we who believe view our lives through the lens of God’s righteousness, we can only come to one conclusion: we are unworthy. Not only do we see that those who follow after the flesh are guilty before God, but in our own strength, we who attend church every Sunday are also guilty before God. This is a continuation of the statement in verse ten that “there is none righteous, no not one.” Our boasting and trusting in the flesh is silenced when we see and understand the holiness of God.
Israel was not justified by the deeds of the law that was given to Moses. We today are not justified by keeping the requirements of the church. Just as the Israelites failed time and time again to keep God’s law, so we fail today (whether in word or deed) to be constantly upright before God. The law does not justify us, but rather points out to us our sin. According to the words of Jesus, even if we did keep the law perfectly we would still be slow and unprofitable.
Seeing then that there is nothing we can do to justify ourselves before God, how shall we stand? If my goodness could never be enough, what hope is there? My righteousness is as filthy rags. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifest!
The righteousness of God through the grace of Jesus Christ is the sufficiency that we lack in ourselves or in our ability to keep the law. The righteousness of God is manifested, not by the law, but without the law. The scripture (law and prophets) bear witness to the righteousness of God. God’s righteousness does not rely on any dictate, but is rather one of His characteristics.
The righteousness of God comes to us by the faith of Jesus Christ. Paul did not say that this righteousness was by our faith in Jesus Christ. It is given through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ to the will of God the Father. This is the source of our hope and consolation.
It does not come as a matter of pedigree. It is not about whether we are Jew of Gentile, free man or servant, male or female, young or old. These things make no difference at all in our consolation in Christ. This righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ is ours if we believe.
At this point, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that our deliverance from sin is at least partially based on our belief. Remember that Paul started all of this with a discussion of those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. We are not required to believe any of this in order for the blood of Christ to cleanse us. Our belief affects the peace that we have here in knowing that we stand righteous before God through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
May God show us the righteousness of His Son and may the view of that righteousness convict and convince us that we have no good of our own to claim!