Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | January 17, 2020

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested”

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 3:21-30.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe;  for there is no distinction;  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;  whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;  for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting?  It is excluded.  By what kind of law?  Of works?  No, but by a law of faith.  For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.  Or is God the God of Jews only?  Is He not the God of Gentiles also?  Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.”  Romans 3:21-30.


As shown in bold italic font above, today’s Scripture is not talking about any righteousness of man;  today’s Scripture is talking about the righteousness of God.

Other doctrine seeks the righteousness of man.

But, Reformed Doctrine seeks the righteousness of God.

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested …”  Verse 21.

“…  This was to demonstrate His righteousness …”  Verse 25.

Justice and righteousness requires punishment for sins.  

God would not be just nor righteous if He simply forgave sins.  Would we consider an earthly judge just and righteous if he or she simply forgave and released every criminal without any punishment?!    

God demonstrated His justice and righteousness by sending His precious only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die on the cross, because through His Father’s will, Christ took on Himself the sins of God’s Elect.  If ever there was a time for God to refrain from justice, it was this time.  But, God perfectly demonstrated His justice by even sending Christ to the cross, because justice required punishment for those sins.  To use a word in today’s Scripture, justice required “propitiation” for those sins.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.

Article 1.  God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just.  And his justice requires (as he hath revealed himself in his Word), that our sins committed against his infinite majesty should be punished, not only with temporal, but with eternal punishment, both in body and soul;  which we cannot escape, unless satisfaction be made to the justice of God.

Article 2.  Since therefore we are unable to make that satisfaction in our own persons, or to deliver ourselves from the wrath of God, he hath been pleased in his infinite mercy to give his only begotten Son, for our surety, who was made sin, and became a curse for us and in our stead, that he might make satisfaction to divine justice on our behalf.

That is why today’s Scripture does not only call God “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.  Rather, today’s Scripture calls God “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”.  Verse 26.

“The Rock!  His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.”    Deuteronomy 32:4.

Today’s Scripture is not even talking about our righteousness gained by us through our faith.  First of all, our faith was given to us by God, through His righteousness.  Second, faith is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.

Consider the following from the Belgic Confession.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  Therefore, for any to assert, that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides him, would be too gross a blasphemy:  for hence it would follow, that Christ was but half a Savior.  Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith without works.  However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean, that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our Righteousness.  But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

There is the warning about seeking to establish our own righteousness. 

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.  For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.  For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”  Romans 10:1-3.

In summary and conclusion, we do not seek a righteousness of our own derived from the Law, but rather, we seek the righteousness of God which comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ. 

“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”  Philippians 3:8-9.


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