Summary: The transformation of life that attends salvation.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
“But now…” Martin Lloyd-Jones is undoubtedly correct in asserting that there can be no words more wonderful or more glorious in the whole of Scripture than these two words. In saying this, he was no doubt thinking of the stunning contrast between the condition of Christians when they were outside of Christ and the condition now enjoyed because Christ has redeemed His people.
Throughout the apostolic writings, powerful statements are made describing what God has done for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. Consider the testimony of the Apostle Paul concerning the salvation Christ has provided.
“By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law” [ROMANS 3:20, 21].
“While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” [ROMANS 7:5, 6].
“The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” [GALATIANS 3:24, 25].
“Remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” [EPHESIANS 2:11-13].
Each of these passages speaks of what God has done for us in giving us His great salvation. The righteousness of God is revealed independently of the Law. Therefore, we are released from the Law. We are now sons of God, enjoying a divine inheritance, through faith. We have been brought near to the Master. Therefore, we no longer should even imagine that we must maintain a standard that we are incapable of keeping. It is enough that we have been saved through grace.
Other passages are equally forceful in attesting to God’s gracious provision for those who have faith in His Son, as writers of Scripture transition from considering our condition as outsiders to speaking of our situation in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” [ROMANS 6:21, 22].
“Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more” [GALATIANS 4:8, 9]?
“At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” [EPHESIANS 5:8].
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens’” [HEBREWS 12:26].
“Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” [1 PETER 2:10].
“You were straying like sheep, [but now you have] returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” [1 PETER 2:25].