“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 (Read all of chapter 3)
The law makes it clear that we have all sinned and are guilty before the LORD God. None of us measures up to the righteousness God requires of us.
The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-18 (Cf. Eccl. 7:20; Psa. 14:1-3; 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; Isa. 59:7,8; Psa. 36:1): “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The law stops our mouths from all boasting because it reveals our utter sinfulness and failure to live up to the righteous demands of God’s commandments. It shows the judgment of God we all deserve. We read in Romans 3:19-20: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (cf. Psa. 143:2).
But there is a righteousness apart from our keeping of the law (v. 21). It is an imputed righteousness which is ours through faith in Christ Jesus.
Jesus fulfilled all the righteous and holy demands of God’s law in our stead. He lived a holy and sinless life for us in His thoughts, desires, words and deeds. And Jesus made full atonement for our sins and the sins of all the world when He suffered and died on the cross and was forsaken and condemned of God the Father (cf. Matt. 27:46; 1 John 2:1-2). And Jesus rose again on the third day, proving that God accepted His sacrifice for sin (cf. Rom. 4:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:3-4).
The Bible tells us that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:24-26; cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-21).
Thus, all of us have sinned and come short of God’s glory, but we who believe are declared forgiven, just, and righteous in God’s eyes because of the holy life and innocent sufferings and death of Christ Jesus in our stead.
The law of God, which reveals God’s holy will for us, reveals as well our utter sinfulness and shortcoming in regard to being righteous and acceptable in God’s sight. The Gospel reveals to us the righteousness of Christ Jesus and the forgiveness and life which are ours through faith in Him who died for our sins and rose again.
I have sinned, O God, and deserve only Your wrath and punishment. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake, and grant me a place in Your everlasting kingdom. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]