Righteousness Through Faith
21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he 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.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Frank and I actually had a good conversation about this over dinner last night. Righteousness is essentially being blameless/sinless in the eyes of the law. Paul is saying that righteousness cannot be acheived by the law, because we fall short – each of us. There is not one of us who hasn’t sinned – except Jesus. Therefore, righteousness is only acheived through faith in Jesus, who died for our sins.
What is atonement? Next week is Yom Kippur, a time when Jews will atone for their sins. This basically means they reconcile with God for their sins and it generally involved an animal sacrafice in Old Testament times. (Unfortunately I am not familar with what Jews do today to atone – I believe they fast) What Christians believe is that we don’t need atonement for our sins as Jesus did that for us – he was the ultimate sacrafice, fulfilling Old Testament law for us.
God is a just God. He created laws and based on the laws, as Paul points out, we all fall short of them. But God is merciful and because Jesus was the perfect sacrafice, the laws are fulfilled and justice and mercy are simulataneously carried out. That is why Paul points out in verse 36 that there can be no boasting – we did nothing to deserve this, except have faith and believe in Jesus. Our salvation does not come from observing a law, it comes through Jesus – therefore no one can take credit, except God. And what is AWESOME, is that this salvation is not limited to the Jews as Jesus died for the whole world.
And the best part? Since Jesus fulfills the law, the law is upheld (and by law, he is referring to the Old Testament laws).