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November 19, 2017

"RIGHTEOUSNESS WITHOUT LAW"

TEXT: Romans 3: 21-26
READING:  Isaiah 61: 1-11

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SUBJ: The imputed righteousness of God which comes by faith to all who are exercise therein and the means whereby it occurs: by Jesus Christ unto all that believe.

AIM: That we might rest in the assurance of the work of Christ accepted of God in our behalf and claimed by God-given faith in Christ our Lord.

INTR: Having led us through the darkest of descriptions of the depravity of mankind in which there is not a single ray of hope we are made to see that light which the Old Testament writers anticipated.
1. Having provided ample proof that “there shall no flesh be justified in His sight,” we are told of that which seems impossible in consideration of the holiness of God.
2. Nevertheless, the righteousness of God comes into view which had been declared from of old.
3. The universal ruin of man leaves no hope but the mercy of God and it is well that the first (ruin) be realized that the second (mercy) might be fully appreciated.

THESIS: There is no more important understanding that we may have than that of the free justification that God imputes to believers on the merits of the blood of Christ Jesus our Lord. It behooves us to thoroughly attend to the teaching of grace that we may never give place to self-righteousness in any form.

I. The Righteousness of God (vv. 21-22)
1. The righteousness of God is beheld as His holiness personified.
1) We may think of it as that which God declares right and that would be true – the Law
2) In truth it is the substance of His character and perfect in every sense of the Word.
2. It is now, in the fulness of time, manifested in the person of Christ Jesus the Lord.
1) What God has declared can never be attained to by mere obedience to a rule.
2) It is expressed openly in who Jesus is.
3. This is the same that was witnessed to of old.
1) It is declared in the Law, the types, and the shadows and
2) It is the declaration of the prophets: The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. Isaiah 42:21.
3) And see also: And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Galatians 3:8
4) Recall: Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4
4. That which is made manifest in Christ is also made manifest to all that believe:
1) That faith is that of which Jesus Christ is said to be the “author and finisher.”
2) He it is that God the Father has provided and who perfectly set forth that righteousness and who imputes the same to those who claim it by faith.
3) It is important here that we do not ascribe merit to faith:
i. It is not the effective cause of justification or salvation
ii. Nor is faith the meritorious cause of justification and righteousness
iii. It is rather the means of apprehending it to ourselves in that it “views the righteousness of Christ, owns the sufficiency of it; the soul by it renounces the its own righteousness, submits to Christ’s, rejoices in it, and gives Him the glory of it…” Gill
5. It is not to all, but to those who believe!

II. The freeness of Justification (vv. 23-24)
1. The fact that all have sinned is the thing wherein there is no difference.
1) To sin is to transgress the Law – being a sinner is what we are by nature
2) In any case to come short of the glory of God is unacceptable and all are found in that way.
2. Having said this, we see by the text that a backward look is in view.
1) This is not a statement of universal salvation (it applies to believers who have received justification by faith).
2) It is important, however, to see that all who are so justified were sinners falling short of His glory.
3. Justification then occurs by the free grace of God and is an act of imputation
1) The word “freely” is not in reference to price so much as that it was done without any cause being found in those justified.
2) (Compare: But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. John 15:25).
4. It should not be thought of as having no price even though we are bidden thus to come:
1) It is because of the redemption which entails all that Christ did in order to satisfy the justice of God
2) Redemption assumes a prior state of bondage and such was the state of all who are delivered up having had their sins laid on Christ and He having rendered satisfaction.
3) That is why elsewhere justification is said to be by the blood of Christ. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:9.

III. God propitiated (vv. 25-26)
1. Not only then do we find ourselves freely justified, but the cause of the wrath of God toward us is taken away.
1) In pouring out His wrath on Jesus and having satisfied His justice,
2) The anger of God with us and our sin is removed and so the realization that they are gone!
3) God’s forbearance was then vindicated in the sins of all saints in all time were taken away.
2. A problem for God is then resolved:
1) It would seem a matter of injustice if an offender were simply released without an accounting.
2) But, in that God has so punished our sin in Christ He is able to justify us with His holiness and integrity intact and fully honored in all that have been justified thereby.