21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Paul here deals with our basic need. Because of our sins, we are alienated from God and rebels against Him. We have all fallen short of God’s plan for us (Rom. 3:23). We are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). We are guilty (Rom 3:19), condemned (Mark 16:16), children of wrath (Eph 2:3). And as he has just stated in Romans we are; unrighteous, without understanding and unprofitable. So how do we get that all taken care of? Well Paul tells us.
I. Being justified freely by His grace
1. This tells us that we had nothing to do with it.
2. We didn’t make it happen to ourselves.
3. It was something that only God can do for us.
1. This is a legal description where by God declares the sinner righteous.
2. Justification of itself does not change us, but changes our standing before God.
3. T.P. Simmons in his theology says, “It is an act, and not a process. It occurs and is complete the moment the individual believes. It admits of no degrees or stages. The penitent Publican is said to have gone down to his house justified. He was justified completely the moment he put his faith in the propitiatory work of Christ. The justification of the believer is always put in the past tense. There is not in all the Bible the slightest hint of a continuous process in justification.”
4. J.P. Boyce says, “Justification is a judicial act of God, by which, on account of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to a sinner and received by him through that faith which vitally unites him to his substitute and Saviour, God declares that sinner to be free from the demands of the law, and entitled to the rewards due to the obedience of that substitute.”
5. “The word justify means to reckon or declare to be righteous. For example, God pronounces a sinner to be righteous when that sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the way the word is most often used in the New Testament.” Believer's Bible Commentary
6. A couple of examples that help us better understand the word.
a. A man can justify God (see Luke 7:29) by believing and obeying God’s word. In other words, he declares God to be righteous in all that God says and does.
(1) Luke 7:29 (NKJV) And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John.
b. A man can justify himself.
(1) Luke 10:29 (NKJV) But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
7. Therefore to justify does not mean to actually make a person righteous.
a. We cannot make God righteous; He already is righteous.
b. But we can declare Him to be righteous.
c. God does not make the believer sinless or righteous in himself.
d. Rather, God puts righteousness to his account.
e. As A. T. Pierson put it, “God in justifying sinners actually calls them righteous when they are not—does not impute sin where sin actually exists, and does impute righteousness where it does not exist.” Believer's Bible Commentary
8. A popular definition of justification is just as if I’d never sinned.
a. But this does not go far enough.
b. When God justifies the believing sinner, He not only acquits him from guilt but clothes him in His own righteousness and thus makes him absolutely fit for heaven.
c. “Justification goes beyond acquittal to approval; beyond pardon to promotion.” Believer's Bible Commentary
9. Nowhere is this better stated than in his declaration, “ ... that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:8, 9).
a. To be justified includes the truth that God sees the sinner in terms of his relation to his Son, with whom he is well pleased. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
1. This word can be translated gift and is by some translations.
2. But gift does not give the full extent of its meaning.
3. NT:1432 pertaining to there being no cause or legitimate reason - 'without cause, without reason, for no reason.' 'they hated me for no reason' John 15:25. 'being puffed up for no reason' Col 2:18. (from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright (c) 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)
4. John 15:25 gives us this same word with a different translation.
a. John 15:25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.' NKJV
b. Therefore it means that there was nothing in the sinner that qualified him for justification. There was nothing in him deserving of justification. There was no reason for it outside of God.
c. Therefore works is totally excluded.
5. Look how Paul puts it in a couple of other passages
a. Romans 4:2-6 (NKJV)2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
b. Titus 3:4-7 (NKJV)4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
D. By His Grace
1. Grace is the undeserved favor of God.
2. Grace is motivated by God’s love and mercy.
a. Ephesians 2:4, 6 (NKJV) 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, . . . 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
b. Romans 5:8 (NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The reason God can declare ungodly sinners to be righteous is because the Lord Jesus Christ has fully paid the debt of their sins by His death and resurrection. When sinners accept Christ by faith, they are justified. Believer's Bible Commentary
You can never declare yourself not guilty, you are not the judge.
You can never on your own become not guilty, for v-23 says all have sinned.
Jesus is your only hope but He is more than sufficient to save you today.