Summary: Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven...but it's better than that in God's economy...it's as if those sins never happened...erased! Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
From Wrath to Righteousness
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Wrath of God revealed.
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Righteousness of God revealed. It's a new section in this epistle.
It's been bad news, now it's good news.
Up to this point in the book, it's all been bad news. Mankind has entered a courtroom and God is the judge, and we are accused of high treason against heaven.
The heathen hopes to be acquitted on basis of ignorance, but the witnesses of conscience and creation take the stand and undercut his case.
The moral person is guilty as well, even though he's a good person by comparison. He hasn't sinned outwardly like the heathen, but he has inwardly - lust is adultery, covetousness is stealing, hatred is murder.
The religious person does good works and keeps the law, he thinks, but they have no case at all...we are all sinners...guilty. Sinners by nature, sinners by choice...and therefore subject to the wrath of God against sin.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
This is the final sentence. Nothing could be more tragic. But here in v. 21 is a 'grand canyon division.' From darkness to light, what a difference.
First 2 words of v. 21: 'but now'
In spite of our sin and guilt, deserving wrath, righteousness comes on the scene...and it's not ours! It's God's!!
It means we can become right in the sight of God...better news doesn't exist in this universe!
Wrath is revealed, but now righteousness is revealed. But we must go by God's terms. There's not many roads to heaven. There is one road, and it is revealed here. It is justification by faith, whereby God declares the believing sinner to be righteous.
Just as if I'd never sinned!
Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven...but it's better than that in God's economy...it's as if those sins never happened...erased!
1. Justification is an act, not a process.
It's a one time event which occurs at salvation...not an ongoing thing. It happens in an instant. Catholics believe justification is a process that begins at infant baptism, and continues through confirmation, catechism, confession, sacraments, and all kinds of good works. And if you commit a 'mortal sin', your justification is interrupted and you'd better make things right or face purgatory.
Biblically, justification is a one time event, when God places your sin on Christ on His cross, paying for those sins. Then he places Christ's righteousness upon you...and you've moved from wrath to righteousness!
It's a legal declaration that is made. You cannot lose your salvation, you didn't earn it, you were declared to be saved, undeserving, and so if you sin and feel undeserving, you are!
2. Justification has no degrees.
You are justified or you are not. No levels. I am no more justified than you are.
3. Justification is done by God, not man.
Faith is all we bring to the table. This leaves no room for boasting.
In chapter 4 Paul will give a great illustration of justification, using Abraham. In chapter 5 we'll see the benefits of justification.
For now, just these 2 verses, 21-22 in chapter 3.
Paul says, here's 5 statements about what it is...
• is of God, v. 21 -- not of us! Ours is filthy rags. God isn't in the laundry business. He doesn't just clean up our righteousness...He takes the robe off His back and puts it on ours!
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Will we sing 'How Great I Am' in heaven? No way! God gets the glory.
Those who try to be good enough for heaven are attempting to steal God's glory. God will share all He has w/ us except His glory.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
• has nothing to do with keeping the law.
v. 21 'without the law'
Good works have nothing to do with it. The law demands perfection and we're not perfect.
Many churches teach grace + works. What does the Bible say?
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.