For years I avoided studying the book of Romans because I thought I would never be able to keep all the doctrine straight in my head. I finally realized that the doctrinal truths needed to be in my heart, not just in my head, and that I did not have to be able to recite them word-for-word to be able to live them as a believer. Today’s passage contains some heavy doctrinal words like justification and propitiation, but when it comes down to it, the message is pretty simple. And, if that message can pass through our heads and land in our hearts, it will be worth the study.
- What do you think it means for a person to be justified before God?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 3:21-31 (ESV)
21 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. 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. 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.
27 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—who 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.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Who has sinned? Does verse 23 provide any exemptions?
- What is the gift God gives to us (vs. 24)? Who provided our redemption?
- Much of this passage speaks of the righteousness of God. What do we learn about the relationship between God’s righteousness, faith in Jesus, and forgiveness of our sins in these verses?
- According to verse 27, why should a Christian never boast about his or her standing before God?
- Do you subconsciously feel that you are better than another person or group because you are a Christian? What do these verses reveal about that kind of thinking?
RESPOND TO GOD
We see in these verses that we can never earn righteousness on our own. But God, in his love for us, provided a way through the gift of his Son for us to be justified in his sight. It is all his work, and we simply respond in faith. If we understand this in our hearts—that God loves us so much that he provided a way to forgive our sins so that we can be in relationship with him—then we will live differently. We will live with humility and compassion, and with a burning desire to share this free and undeserved gift with all of those around us.
- Thank God the Father for his gift of salvation through Jesus.
- Ask God to show you how to live out your faith in Jesus today.