As I continue my sermon series on the book of Romans I am amazed at the doctrinal depth of this book. Yesterday I covered Romans 3:21-26. Let me unpack some of the key phrases over the next couple of blog posts.
The Righteousness of God Has Been Manifested:
In Paul's theology he is quick to show that the law (the Mosaic law) is alive and well and has an important part in the life of the Christian as well as the non-Christian. He demonstrates that the law has been given to make us aware of sin (3:20). In so doing the law reveals 'the righteousness of God', i.e. His righteous character.
In 3:21 Paul argues that the 'righteousness of God' has been revealed/manifested somewhere else outside of the law. The law and the prophets (the entire Old Testament) hint at this and give glimpses that this would come to pass. In 3:22 he reveals that this righteousness is embodied in a person: Jesus Christ. Moreover, that righteousness can be obtained by faith in Christ for all who believe without distinction.
The logical question that arises is this: "How is Christ the embodiment of the righteousness of God?" In Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15 Jesus is referred to as the Second Adam. In that sense it becomes clear how he can be called the righteousness of God: He did what the first Adam failed to do. He kept all of God's commandments perfectly during his 33 years on earth in spite of temptations that were infinitely more intense than the first Adam ever experienced. And at the end of his life he endured suffering beyond imagination and did not sin. Theologians refer to this as the active obedience of Jesus -- He actively kept God's commands with complete perfection.
You and I are like Adam -- sinners who cannot keep the commandments of God. We break them multiple times daily in thought, word and deed. The law wants to stop our mouths (3:19) with all of our excuses and rationalizations of why we do what we do. The law's purpose is to point us to a Savior who has kept God's law perfectly: Jesus Christ.
Lawbreakers, who by faith, look to Him alone for salvation, will be saved by Him. He will cleanse them from their sins. He will bestow upon them His own righteousness. They will be justified in the Father's sight. They will declared righteous in God's sight, as if they had never sinned nor been a sinner.
Look to Christ as the one whose righteousness you need.