Romans 3: 9-18
9 What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10as it is written:‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.’
13 ‘Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of vipers is under their lips.’
14 ‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’
15 ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.’
18 ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’
All men — Jews and Greeks — are under a charge of sin. Not even one man can stand on his own before God and expect to be called righteous, verse 11 – no man even understands his own predicament. Paul refers to Psalms 14 & 53. These two Psalms form a ultimate argument, scripture’s own testimony concerning the reality of man’s unrighteousness. The very nature of men is such that not only so they sin habitually, but they are enslaved to sin. The message of scripture – not just of Paul – is one of man’s hopelessness and heedlessness.
Romans 3: 19-20
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
20 For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
Paul begins to shift back to righteousness and appears to be returning to a discussion of the Jew, since Paul mentions the Law, but not necessarily so. Paul is describing the effects of laws, rules, and standards. Whatever law say, it says it to those who are under the law. Looking at the wording, “Whatever a Law “says” – means its impact or the limit of its reaches. It speaks ti those under or in the law, so that every mouth will be closed and all the world becomes accountable. The idea here is that laws don’t produce righteousness, they only reveal unrighteousness. So God used law to demonstrate our collective unrighteousness. And our efforts to work our way out of the hole we’re in we’ll never accomplish, because our only response to our predicament is to try and perform works in keeping with God’s Law. Paul says by the works of law, no flesh shall be declared righteous before Him, the law merely reveals sin.
Now Paul joins the unrighteousness of man with God’s plan for righteousness.
Romans 3: 21-26
21 But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets,
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,
23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;
26 it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is perhaps the most elegant statement of God’s plan of salvation ever written.
Consider where Paul has left the Roman church. If they followed his arguments from chapter 1 & 2 to the mid point of 3 they have been on the verge of panic; all men are sinful, there is no hope, and all is lost. Paul then unfolds God’s solution – this is the unique, distinguishing feature of Christianity.
Point 1 – The Disclaimer
Apart from the Law, which means separately from or independent from. Remember we’re talking about law, not necessarily the Law. So point #1 is God’s plan for saving men is a plan that is independent of any law, any rules of human action or behavior, it is not by works.
Point 2 – The Gospel is about God’s Righteousness – Not Our Righteousness
The righteousness of God has been manifested, God solves the problems of our unrighteousness by manifesting His righteousness. The word manifested means disclosed or made visible. So God made His righteousness visible to a world that previously only knew unrighteousness.
Point 3 – The Gospel is a Promised Fulfilled
This righteousness of God was witnessed or testified to by the Law, the Mosaic Law, and the Prophets.
Point 4 – Faith is the Means of Manifesting God’s Righteousness
The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Notice he didn’t say because of our faith in Jesus Christ. God manifested His righteousness through our faith not because of it.
Point 5 – The Recipients
For all who believe, for there is no distinction, all have fallen short. All men are saved the same way – there is no second was to be saved, God has one plan for salvation.
Point 6 – The Result
Being justified as a gift by this grace. The word justified is one of the most important in the Bible, it means to be declared righteous, acquitted, vindicated, and it’s the outcome of a judging process. Believers are justified, God declares the believers righteous, and innocent. Justification is an act, not a process, and it is something God does, not man. God’s decision to bring us to this result was purely a gift, His grace.
Point 7 – The Price
The price, through redemption of Jesus Christ. This redemption is a payment made on our behalf by Jesus Christ, so our justification was made possible because we were ransomed.
Point 8 –
Jesus’ ransom permits God to declare us righteous because it is a propitiation. Paul describes what he means by clarifying that God displayed Jesus publically as an atoning sacrifice, and through a faith in that sacrifice, that ransom, our debt is paid. Paul goes further to explain how God’s own righteousness was demonstrated in the process of ransoming men by His Son’s death. First at the moment of the cross, God demonstrated righteousness by crushing His Son. Paul says because of God’s tolerance, or delaying in dealing with the sin of mankind. Justice was required cause sin had occurred, yet God had not yet brought His wrath against the sin committed among all men. Remember Luke 16 – Sheol, so as God crushes His Son, He remains true to His own righteousness by demanding a price be paid for sin. But having placed His wrath on Jesus, God now can be just and also be justifier of the one who has faith in His Sons blood atonement.