Because God’s righteousness is eternal, the one who receives it from Him enjoys it forever. Paul makes it very plain throughout all of his epistles that this righteousness is never imparted to anyone on the basis of law keeping. No, it has been manifested apart from the law. What does it mean, “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe”? Right standing with God is declared to all who through faith in Jesus Christ believe. (Romans 1:16,17, Ephesians 2:8,9)
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are in the Law, so that every mouth may be shut and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law NO FLESH WILL BE JUSTIFIED IN HIS SIGHT, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20 (LSB)
The real Gospel is not entertaining. It is not “fun.” It is not hip. It is not cool. No, it is blunt and abrupt and not politically correct. It calls everyone a sinner with no exceptions and those who are justified by God are so on the basis of the righteousness of another while they remain completely undeserving. Not one of them can take credit for their own salvation. After they have been baptized into Christ, they remain “sinners saved by grace.” They are not perfect or perfected. They have not somehow become “better than” anyone else. They have the mark of the Saviour upon them. They belong to Him. They are His bondservants or slaves and He is their Lord, but in the interim until they go home to be with Him forever, they remain in this life both declared Holy and Righteous by God in their justification, but also still sinful and imperfect as they go through the fires of sanctification. What is the source of this righteousness since it is not by any works of the law that it comes as we read in the passage above? In fact, it is the through the law that comes the knowledge of sin.
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith, for a demonstration of His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21-26 (LSB)
Because of the universal sinfulness of man, which we looked at the earlier posts, God has graciously provided a righteousness that comes only from Him on the basis of faith alone. It cannot be earned or deserved. In Greek, Paul begins v21 with Νυνὶ δὲ or “now but.” This is not a time reference. Instead, it refers to the place in Paul’s argument in which he changes from exposing the problem to giving us God’s solution.
The word “righteousness” in v21 is translated from the Greek word δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosunē). This is the state or condition of perfectly conforming to God’s perfect law and holy character. The root of this word is also the root of the word most often translated as “justified” or “justification” as we shall see. God is the source of this righteousness. It fulfills both the penalty and precept of God’s law.