We cannot save ourselves. Paul says to the Jews who boasted in their relationship to Abraham, that having the law does not save. Keeping the law would, but none of them have, or can. Even if they could, it’s too late, as all of them have already broken it.
Without (most of us) being Jews, we can nevertheless apply these words to ourselves today in many ways. Especially in the USA, we venerate the independent man who “pulls himself up by his own bootstraps.” This is a ridiculous picture and an impossible feat. Likewise, the idea of somehow being “good enough” to get to Heaven is a ridiculous idea, yet how many times have you heard (or thought) “I’ve lived a pretty good life. I’m better than a lot of people, and I think I’ll make it okay”? Thanks be to God, we don’t have to make it on our own. Nor can we.
Read the passage, Romans 3:21-31, and then see what you think of my commentary. I’d love to hear your opinion, good or bad or so-so. You can see loads of other commentaries on this passage by going to the Blogger Small Group and checking out the links. Or join up yourself and give your take.
God revealed His righteous requirements in His law, but He reveals His actual righteousness apart from the law. The law itself predicts and foreshadows this righteousness, as do the prophets.
The righteousness God offers us comes through faith in His Son, and it comes to everyone who believes. There isn’t some special allowance to be made for Jews, as some think, and again, Gentiles don’t become righteous by being “pretty good”.
We need this righteousness offered by God, as all of us have sinned. This is the big thing people overlook so easily. We’ve all sinned. We’ve fallen short. We’re not eligible to be in the presence of God, nor could we survive it in our sinful state.
God has made a way to “fix” us, so that we can once again enjoy fellowship with Him and He with us. (Imagine that–GOD wants to hang out with you! That should make you feel like a part of the “in” crowd.) Grace means the working of God in our lives. God works in our lives by buying us back (redeeming) us with His own blood. He took on our sins, took us into Himself, and died. We died with Him, for God put us “in Christ”.
God counts our faith in Christ’s blood as righteousness (and it is He who gives us the faith) just as He counted Abraham’s faith as righteousness. The death of Christ not only paid for the sins of His followers at the time and those who would follow after, but for those who went before. For those who died before the atoning death of Jesus, God passed over their sins, looking forward to the sacrifice that would be made. Thus, the atonement was also necessary to justify His mercy toward those sinners who trusted Him before Jesus came.
We sometimes wonder why God doesn’t just forgive sin without a penalty being paid. Couldn’t He just pass over it? No. God is righteous and cannot ignore sin. That would be wrong. It would be unrighteous. So the death of Christ was not only needed to justify us and redeem us, it was needed to justify God’s merciful treatment of sinners from the beginning of the world.
God proved His righteousness by taking the penalty for our sins and those of the patriarchs and all who had already died trusting in His promise. He did this in the person of His Son. Had He failed to do as He promised, He would not be able to both be righteous and also declare righteous those who looked to Him for mercy though we deserved wrath.
We have no reason to boast, whether we are Jew or Gentile or Barbarian. God has done everything to bring us back, and we have done nothing. We could do nothing. We were hopeless without Jesus and we still are. Our only true boast is in Him.
Faith, not the works of the Law, saves us. The works of the Law cannot save us because we cannot keep the Law. The Law shows us our sin.
God is God of all, not only of one people, but of all peoples.
We all, whether Jew or Gentile, are justified by faith alone. Circumcision symbolizes the works of the Law, which cannot save us. We must become, through faith in Jesus, the sorts of persons who naturally keep the Law, but without Him, this can never happen. Thus, the Law is upheld because God has redeemed a race of people, a kingdom of priests, who keep the Law which is, at its foundation, the Law of Love. This can happen in no other way than that we be given a new nature–the nature of Christ. We have become and are continually becoming new creatures–creatures on whose hearts the Law of Love is written.