Summary: Fourth in the Romans series dealing with justification of sinners.

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Alliance Church

June 3, 2001

Pastor David Welch

“The Divine Dilemma and the Gift of Righteousness”

Romans 3:21-31

I. Receive the gift of God’s righteousness by faith 1-5

The gospel first exposes the unrighteousness of man. The gospel then reveals the righteousness of God and how to receive it as a free gift. “Righteousness of God” is the major theme of the book. Righteousness is a word used to indicate conformity or obedience to a particular standard. The expression, “that was righteous”, popular several years ago, indicated that one’s action satisfactorily conformed to one’s expectations. To describe someone as righteous identifies him or her in compliance to a standard.

The phrase “the righteousness of God” used by Paul may be viewed from several aspects.

• God’s personal character that perfectly conforms to His own moral standard

(the righteous character of God)

• God’s established order of right and wrong required of those made in His image.

(the standard of right and wrong decreed by God)

• God’s gift of right standing granted to those believing in Christ

(declared righteous by judicial order on the basis of the righteousness of Christ)

The Gospel reveals God’s standard.

The Gospel reveals God’s own conformity to His own standard.

The Gospel reveals how far from God’s expectations man has strayed.

The Gospel reveals how man can become the righteousness of God in Christ.

Paul spent the first three chapters demonstrating the unrighteousness of man and the need for the righteousness of God. He makes the bad new bad, which makes the good news better. Because man has suppressed the truth by His behavior, the flesh becomes unrestrained.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. Prov 29:18

A. Every man needs God’s righteousness because all have sinned 1-3

1. The self-centered hedonist (pleasure focused) is without excuse 1:18-32

2. The self-justifying moralist is without excuse 2:1-16

God will judge people according to how their behavior conforms to His standard.

3. The self-righteous religious Jew is without excuse 2:17-3:8

Jews have never perfectly followed the Law of Moses but consistently broken the letter and spirit of His Law and cast it aside for their own convenience. Gentiles have never perfectly followed their conscience but consistently violated and seared their conscience to do their own thing. Those who fail to live in perfect conformity with God’s standard (God’s righteousness) will face anger, wrath, tribulation and distress. That not only means abstinence from all that is evil but full, spiritually productive lives in right relationship with the Creator. Those who perfectly conform (yes God demands perfect conformity) to the law of God will enjoy eternal life, glory, honor and peace. The dilemma for man become dreadfully obvious. Paul adeptly demonstrated that NO ONE has been able to live a perfectly righteous life. Even those who think they are better than others have consistently violated the standard of God and failed to live a life consistent with an image bearer of the Holy God. Just in case anyone missed his conclusion, Paul summarizes the dilemma in verse 9-20.

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