Summary: Since man is incapable to save himself God made a solution for man's fallen condition-that is, justification by faith in Christ.
It is the unequivocal claim of the whole Scripture that man has a dilemma. That is, man stands condemned before God and he can do nothing to save himself from such shameful condition.
We all know that all hopes of man to save himself such as religiosity and reliance on sets of rules cannot and will never save man from his depraved condition.
The question would naturally follow,"Is there no way for man to be out of such condition?"
In the previous chapters of Romans the Apostle Paul so painted a gloomy picture of humanity that one would not help but conclude that it is totally impossible for man to escape from such situation.
Yes it is true! It is absolutely impossible for man to escape from his deplorable condition. But with God nothing is impossible.
The answer to man's dilemma is dealt with in Romans 3:21-31. It shows the way for man to be saved from condemning situation. And it is not because of man's own effort but God's faithfulness.
Righteousness through Justification (vv. 22-24)
The Apostle Paul plainly declares that God's solution for man's fallen condition is God's righteousness (that is, a righteousness that God gives and accepts). It is the righteousness a person can have "apart from the law", yet testified by the law and the prophets (the whole Old Testament). This is the righteousness God gives through 'justification'. The word 'justification' is a forensic term. It is a actually a court term in the days of the New Testament. In Greek, it is 'dikaiosis', which is derived from the Greek verb 'dikaioo', which means 'to declare to be righteous or just'.
Through justification , God declares a believing sinner righteous not for any merit but because of what Jesus has done.
Ground for Justification (vv 24-25)
But some may wonder,"Why would God do that? Why would He declare a person righteous who is not actually righteous? What is His basis for doing that?"
According to our passage God's basis for justifying a believing sinner is the death of Christ.
We know that God is just and He will not allow sin to go unpunished. this is clearly illustrated in the Old Testament rituals and sacrifices where unblemished animals prescribed by the law were sacrificed to atone for the sins of the people.
But the New Testament attests to the fact that animals cannot completely serve as adequate substitute for man.
And since it was man who sinned against God, therefore he should be the one to pay for it.
It was Adam, the representative of the human race, who sinned in the garden, thus we need the same like Adam who would be presented as the sacrifice for our sins.
Yet no one except Jesus Christ can meet the standard of God. Therefore, Jesus Christ became for us the perfect sacrifice (Heb. 9:11-14).
Justification is possible only because Christ has settled all the claims of the law against sinners.
The Significance of the Death of Christ (vv 24-26)
The significance of Christ's death merits our notice for it shows why it becomes the basis of God's justification.
a. It provides Redemption
Our passage directs us to the redemption brought by the death of Christ (v. 24). It indicates that justification is freely given by virtue of Christ's redemptive work.
Redemption is an economical term in the Greco-Roman world, which carries the idea of "buying back of slave to st him free", or the other lexical meaning, "obtaining release by payment of a ransom."
Christ's death serves a ransom payment for obtaining freedom from guilt, judgment, and slavery of sin.
b. It provides Satisfaction of God's wrath
Most people find it hard to accept the idea of God's wrath. Because for them that idea is not only incompatible with God's loving character but also impossible.
But the truth is the Bible portrays God as both loving and just. He is, in fact, a balanced being. His love demands that HE be just. And His justice requires Him to detest sin. Such an attitude is what the Bible calls God's wrath. It is God's natural response to anything contrary to His holy character.
Leon Morris, a theologian and New Testament scholar, explains that God's wrath is not "an uncontrollable outburst of passion. It is the reverse of a holy love, a flame which sears but purifies... always exercise with a certain tenderness, for even when He is angry with man's sin God loves man and is concerned for his well being in the fullest sense."
That is why Jesus Christ clothed himself with humanity, took all the sins of the past, present, and future, and died on the cross. By doing that, He became the holy and perfect sacrifice that satisfied the holy and perfect justice of God.