“Wrestling With Romans”
The Righteous for the Unrighteous (Chapter 3 vv 21-31)
The hopelessness of universal sin (v23), has been met (v24). The amazing thing is that although we were still sinners, it did not stop God rendering a judgment of righteousness. “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1.37). Sin does not discount us it is only unbelief that excludes us from God’s righteousness. O but you say, “I do not deserve that.” Absolutely right, you do not. It is a gift, an undeserved gift that comes to you through God’s wonderful grace that is what grace is. We deserved a guilty verdict, but instead received much more than a not guilty verdict. That does not go far enough, but a righteous verdict. Hallelujah! Do you see the generosity of God the big heartedness of this Lover of your soul? Grace, grace, grace, it is all of wonderful free and sovereign grace (Ephesians 2.1-8).
How can a righteous, holy God, who is infinitely just, without ignoring his own justice, accomplish such? I mean if sin screams out to be punished, and it does? Well, there is only one way, for sin to be punished, for God’s justice to be satisfied, for someone else to take the rap, to pay the price for sin, and redeem the sinner. It is the language of the old pawn shop, with its three brass balls hanging over the doorway, you remember? You could take some article of value and pawn it and you would be given a sum of money for it and a ticket. The ticket would give you a certain time and sum at which you could redeem, buy the item back from the pawn shop. If you went over the time, or could not come up with the redemption price, the pawnbroker could dispose of your valuable article as he pleased. “Well, says God, I have come up with the redemption price myself, and right on time” (Romans 5.6). You couldn’t yourself, poverty-stricken, bankrupt, in debt up to your eyeballs in sin, and all its misery, with no chance of ever paying your way out. The Son of God stepped in and said, “I will pay.” He redeemed us, paid the price in full (v24b), he bought us back from sin. We have been bought from our slavery to sin (1Corinthians 6.20; Galatians 3.13; Acts 20.28; Titus 2.4; Mark 10.45), and it was God who did it, giving up his Son (Romans 8.32), to the death of the cross (v25). God knows no other way of declaring people righteous. Not by your following Jesus’ example, or applying the so-called golden rule, “do unto others as others do unto you”, no, plainly and simply, under that bloodstained cross, seeing yourself as a hell-bound sinner, under the wrath of almighty God, and understanding this, if Jesus in his death does not atone for your sin, no one else ever will or can. More than anything or anyone else in all this world you need Jesus, the Redeemer, the only Redeemer, from sin.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)