Read This Week’s Passage: Romans 3:19–31
Light in the Darkness
So far in Romans, Paul has painted a dismal picture of the world. The Greeks have abandoned God and chosen idolatry. In response, God withdrew His restraining grace, and they embraced the practice of all kinds of immorality (Romans 1:18–32). The Jews and the moralizing Greeks also turned their back on God, but they hid their immorality with hypocrisy (Romans 2). Paul summarized this bleak picture of human sin with a collage of Old Testament texts (Romans 3:10–18). These texts demonstrate that sin and alienation from God are universal problems that plague everyone and every culture. It is in this dark context that Paul began to expound the beauty of God’s good-news plan.
The plan of salvation doesn’t acknowledge a difference between ethnicities. At the most fundamental level, we are all the same—all have sinned, and all can be justified by faith in Jesus (Romans 3:22–24). Justification is a vital component of the plan of salvation. What is justification? Justification is courtroom language. In a judicial proceeding, a person can be justified or condemned. Justification by faith is God’s assurance in the present and His promise for the future, that those who have faith in Jesus will be declared righteous when they are judged. Justification is a gift of free grace bestowed upon the undeserving (Romans 3:24).
God can graciously give this incredible gift of justification because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. On the cross, Jesus shed His blood (Romans 3:25) so that He could justify those who have faith in Him (Romans 3:26). What fantastic news! No matter the sin, no matter the sense of shame, guilt, or condemnation, the death of Jesus is sufficient to justify those who have faith in Him.