Spiritual Basics – Knowing Christ 3

In our last study, we saw that believing in Jesus Christ includes ‘confessing’ Him as Lord and Savior and ‘believing in your heart’ that God has raised Jesus from the dead, then ‘you will be saved.’ In Romans 10:10, Paul wrote – “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

In today’s study, we’ll look at the next spiritual basic of ‘knowing’ Christ — knowing His righteousness.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

The word the Apostle Paul chose to use for ‘righteousness’ was δικαιοσυνη (justice, justness, verdict of judicial approval). It comes from the word δίκη (a judicial verdict). The idea was of a judge approving of something he had examined with his own eyes. The ‘righteousness of God’ would be based on something He had examined with His own eyes and approved. It is a ‘divine righteousness’ that carries the finality of the judgment of Almighty God.

Background on Righteousness

It’s important to understand how Paul arrived at this point. He told the Roman believers that he was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Then, Paul addressed the issue of God’s righteousness – “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17) Paul used the same word as in Romans 3:21, δικαιοσυνη. 

In the next verse Paul takes God’s verdict of approval and changes it to God’s verdict of disapproval – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18) The Greek word for ‘unrighteousness’ is αδικιαν (injustice, opposite of justice). It comes from the word ἄδικος (unjust, no justice, wicked). Paul used the word twice in verse 18. He said that God’s ‘wrath’ is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in ‘unrighteousness.’ The ‘men’ Paul wrote about were ungodly and unrighteous and had ‘suppressed’ (κατεχοντων – hold fast, hold back, hold down, bind, restrain, hinder) the ‘truth’ ‘in unrighteousness’ (αδικια).

‘Righteousness’ is a primary theme of Romans. Paul used the words ‘righteous’ and ‘righteousness’ almost 40 times in the letter – more than any other New Testament writing. In fact, Paul’s use of the words in Romans is more than almost all of the Old Testament writings. Only Psalms, Proverbs and Isaiah use the words more often than Romans. As for the words ‘unrighteous’ and ‘unrighteousness,’ Romans uses the words more often than any other writing in the entire Bible!

Paul began with the claim that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is ‘the power of God to salvation’ and that ‘in’ the Gospel ‘the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.’ Here’s how Paul continued to build on that theme:

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness …” Romans 1:28-29

“… who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:32

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds.” Romans 2:5-6

“… but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek …” Romans 2:8-9

“Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?” Romans 2:26

“But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unjust who inflicts wrath? (I speak as a man.)” Romans 3:5

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.” Romans 3:9-11

Paul makes it clear that God has issued a judicial verdict and that verdict is that ‘all are under sin.’ That’s Jews and Gentiles – everybody.

As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.’ ‘Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced 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 they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3:10-18

That pretty well sums it up for everyone. That’s how God sees the human race. He has examined the race and declared a judicial verdict of disapproval.

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those 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 no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19-20

Fortunately for us, God is a loving, forgiving judge. Even though no flesh will be justified in His sight ‘by the deeds of the law,’ God has provided a way for sinful beings to receive a judicial verdict of ‘approval’ from God.

The Grace and Mercy of God

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 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, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26

I bow in amazement at these words. After all that Paul explained about the righteousness of God and the unrighteousness of human beings, Paul introduced the righteousness of God that is ‘apart from the law.’ It is the righteousness of God that comes ‘through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.’ The word ‘believe’ is a translation of the Greek word πιστεως (firmly persuaded, conviction based upon hearing, come to trust). The word also carried the idea of a guarantee (warranty) in ancient times. The meaning in context is of ‘divine persuasion’ and ‘guarantee.’

Paul carefully argues for man’s inability to ‘deserve’ or ‘earn’ his way into God’s judicial approval – “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” Paul summed up his argument with this powerful statement – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The best we can hope for is to receive mercy from the Judge and mercy is what we receive.

God is Just and the Justifier ‘through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’ God set forth Jesus as a ‘propitiation by His blood’ to demonstrate ‘His righteousness.’ The word ‘propitiation’ is a translation of the Greek word ιλαστηριον (a sin offering to appease, covering for sin), which derives from the word ἱλάσκομαι (appeasement, satisfaction, show mercy by satisfying, conciliate), which derives from the word ἵλεως (merciful, forgiving, appeasing).

The mercy of God in forgiving the sins of ‘all who believe’ demonstrates His righteousness – “because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness.” 

An important ‘basic’ in knowing who we are as Christians is ‘knowing Christ’ and what He provided for us. We are the ‘forgiven;’ forgiven by God. We were sinners who fell ‘short’ of the glory of God. We have been justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

The word ‘redemption’ is a translation of the Greek word απολυτρωσεως (buying back from, a release effected by payment of ransom). Christians are the ‘redeemed’ because Jesus paid the price for buying us out of spiritual bondage to sin (“For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin” Romans 3:9). God ‘in His forbearance’ passed over the sins we previously committed, ‘to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.’

One more thing we need to know – there is no room for ‘boasting’ on our part. All credit, all glory and praise go to the God of our salvation.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:27-28

“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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2 thoughts on “Spiritual Basics – Knowing Christ 3

  1. Pingback: Spiritual Basics – Knowing Christ 4 | Grace Martial Arts

  2. Pingback: Spiritual Basics – Enjoying Christ | Grace Martial Arts

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