Paul's Epistle to the Romans

 (13) Justification is by Faith Alone
Romans 3:21–31

 


21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,

We now come to the heart of the Letter to the Romans, when Paul answers the question: According to the gospel, how can ungodly sinners be justified by a holy God? He begins by saying that the righteousness of God has been revealed apart from the law. This means that a plan or program has been revealed by which God can righteously save unrighteous sinners, and that it is not by requiring men to keep the law. Because God is holy, He cannot condone sin or overlook it or wink at it. He must punish it. And the punishment for sin is death. Yet God loves the sinner and wants to save him; there is the dilemma. God’s righteousness demands the sinner’s death, but His love desires the sinner’s eternal happiness. The gospel reveals how God can save sinners without compromising His righteousness.

The righteousness of God. The righteousness of God is neither an attribute of God or the changed character of the believer. As defined in II Corinthians 5:21, the righteousness of God is Christ Himself, who met every demand of the law for us in our stead, and is “made unto us … righteousness” (I Cor 1:30). God’s righteousness is demonstrated and communicated to us through the Cross. This righteousness is apart from the law. This expression is a strong expression emphatically stating that righteousness is given totally separate from any law. Hebrews 4:15 proclaims that the Lord Jesus was tempted in all points as we are “yet without sin.” Just as sin and Jesus Christ have nothing in common, so too righteousness was not revealed in keeping the law, but it was seen at the Cross when “He (God the Father) hath made him (God the Son) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Cor 5:21).

This righteous plan is witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. It was foretold in the types and shadows of the sacrificial system that required the shedding of blood for atonement. And it was foretold by direct prophecies (see Isa. 51:5, 6, 8; 56:1; Dan. 9:24). Every time a man took his sacrifice to the Temple for a sin offering, confessed his sin, and killed the animal, he was testifying that he had faith in a righteousness that was not his own. Therefore, the Law bears witness to an external righteousness that God provides, but the Law itself cannot provide. Likewise the prophets were witnesses to this righteousness. The “Law and the prophets” refer to the entire Old Testament. Jesus did not come to do away with the Law of Moses and the words of the prophets; He came to fulfill the predictions of the Messiah and His kingdom and He fulfilled the Law by obeying it perfectly.

22 Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.

The righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. A more understandable phrasing is “We are justified when the righteousness of God is applied to us ‘through faith in Jesus Christ.’” The righteousness of God then does not come to one who simply has faith in God, but to those who by faith claim the name of Jesus Christ. Saving faith in Christ is a necessary part of the righteousness God provides. “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Verse 21 told us that this righteous salvation is not obtained on the basis of law-keeping. Now the apostle tells us how it is obtained—through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith here means utter reliance on the living Lord Jesus Christ as one’s only Savior from sin and one’s only hope for heaven. It is based on the revelation of the Person and work of Christ as found in the Bible.

Faith is not a leap in the dark. It demands the surest evidence, and finds it in the infallible word of God. Faith is not illogical or unreasonable. What is more reasonable than that the creature should trust his Creator?

Faith is not a commendable work by which a man earns or deserves salvation. A man cannot boast because he has believed the Lord; he would be a fool not to believe Him. Faith is not an attempt to earn salvation, but is the simple acceptance of the salvation which God offers as a free gift.

To all and on all who believe. God’s righteousness is provided unto all men. It is to all in the sense that it is available to all, offered to all, and sufficient for all. We therefore go into the entire world and preach the gospel to every creature. “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15). However, even though this righteousness is provided unto all, it is nevertheless applied upon only those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior. This is the only conditional element of the gospel. This righteousness is placed upon us as a covering when by faith we receive Jesus Christ as Savior. Righteousness is from God, through Jesus Christ, to all who receive Him by faith.

For there is no difference. The Jew has no special privilege and the Gentile is at no disadvantage. In this verse, there is no difference between the need of the Jew and the Gentile. That need is explained in the expression for all have sinned (v.23). But just as there is no difference in human need, likewise there is no difference in divine provision. “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “’whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Rom 10:12–13).

23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Sin has been defined as any thought, word, or deed that “misses the mark” and “falls short of God’s standard of holiness and perfection. Sin is not only doing what is wrong; it is also the failure to do what one knows to be right. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Whatever is not of faith is sin. “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). This means that it is wrong for a man to do anything about which he has a reasonable doubt. If he does not have a clear conscience about it, and yet goes ahead and does it, he is sinning. “All unrighteousness is sin” (1 Jn. 5:17). And the thought of foolishness is sin (Prov. 24:9). Sin begins in the mind. When encouraged and entertained, it breaks forth into an act, and the act leads on to death. Sin is often attractive when first contemplated, but hideous in hindsight. Sin is often identified as deeds, such as stealing, murder, adultery, or lying (Ex. 20:1–17; Deut. 5:1–21). However, a more fundamental attitude deep within the human heart underlies all “sins” and is expressed as “I know better than God in this matter.” This attitude led Eve to that first, fatal, disobedient act in the Garden of Eden. Adam had told her that God had forbidden the eating of the fruit, but when the fruit was presented to her as good, pleasant, and desirable, she allowed her own judgment to take precedence over the Word directly from God, and she ate the forbidden fruit. “But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’…So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen. 3:3, 6). God has not given us His Word so we can make a reasoned evaluation of His judgment and decide whether or not we want to obey. He has given us His Word because that Word is truth and life, and we are to obey it without question and with unhesitating confidence. To follow our own judgments in disobedience of God’s Word is to put self in the place of God, no matter how innocent or noble the deed may seem. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).

For all have sinned. The Gospel must be made available to everyone for all have sinned. What’s more, everybody sinned in Adam; when he sinned, he acted as the representative for all his descendants. But men are not only sinners by nature; they are also sinners by practice. Although men differ greatly in the nature and extent of their sinfulness, there is absolutely no difference between the best and the worst of men. God, who cannot lie said, “All have sinned.” “All” includes you. You have sinned against God by thought, word and deed. You have committed sins of commission and sins of omission. In the sight of God, you are a lost sinner, until you have been saved through faith in Christ. Have you accepted Him as Savior and Lord?

And fall short of the glory of God. The statement that all have sinned is further enhanced by the fact that both Jew and Gentile have come short of God’s glory. What is the glory of God? The Bible frequently speaks of the glory of God appearing in the pillar of the cloud leading Israel (Ex 16:7–10); the tabernacle of the congregation at Kadesh (Num 14:10); the temple of Solomon (I Kgs 8:11); the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem (Ezk 11:23); etc. The glory of God now, however, rests in the person of Jesus Christ. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). The glory of God is the person of Jesus Christ.

When Stephen was stoned he looked steadfastly to heaven and saw the glory of God and (or even) Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). The knowledge of the glory of God is said to be in the face of Jesus Christ. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Cor 4:6). When Paul says that we have come short of the glory of God he means that we do not measure up to the sinlessness of Jesus Christ. The Mosaic Law served as God’s standard of righteousness until the coming of Christ. But when the Lord Jesus was made a curse for us, He redeemed us from the curse of the Law. “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4). Thus, the standard of God’s holiness today is not the Old Testament law but the person of Jesus Christ.

24 Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Justification is a legal term referring to a right standing before God. That standing can never be earned. “Redemption” refers to the act by which a slave is given freedom. Through faith in Christ, sinners are delivered from slavery to sin.

Paul makes three observations about the righteousness of God which brings justification. He says that the righteous man is justified freely and that this justification is by his grace and provided through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Being justified freely means being justified without any prior conditions being met. Being justified by God’s grace indicates that not only is our justification without prior conditions being met but, on the other hand, it is graciously given. We do not merit justification, but we enjoy it. You cannot have both merit and grace. Our justification was by the grace of God. Beyond this, it was through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Since the word redemption signifies a buying back, it must have been accomplished by the payment of a price. The price of our redemption was the blood of Jesus Christ. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold… but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet 1:18–19). Therefore, we are justified in the sight of God when the righteousness of Christ is placed upon us by the grace of God, freely and without cause. Only then does God view us as ransomed by the blood of Christ.

It is possible for a man to justify God by believing and obeying God’s word. In other words, he declares God to be righteous in all that God says and does. “And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John” (see Luke 7:29)

And, of course, a man can justify himself; that is, he can announce his own righteousness. But this is nothing but a form of self-deception. “But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

When James teaches that justification is by works he does not mean that we are saved by good works, or by faith plus good works, but rather by the kind of faith that results in good works. “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24).

In order to avoid confusion later on, we should pause here to explain that there are six different aspects of justification in the New Testament. We are said to be justified by grace, by faith, by blood, by power, by God, and by works; yet there is no contradiction or conflict.
1. We are justified by grace—that means we do not deserve it.
2. We are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1)—that means that we have to receive it by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. We are justified by blood (Rom. 5:9)—that refers to the price the Savior paid in order that we might be justified.
4. We are justified by power (Rom. 4:24-25)—the same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead.
5. We are justified by God (Rom. 8:33)—He is the One who reckons us righteous.
6. We are justified by works (Jas. 2:24)—not meaning that good works earn justification, but that they are the evidence that we have been justified.

25 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.

The main points of verses 25 and 26 are:
(1) God presented Jesus Christ as an atoning sacrifice, a propitiation.  
(2) This sacrifice was Christ’s blood.
(3) It is obtained by the sinner through faith.
(4) The sacrifice was necessary because in the past God had not fully punished sin.
(5) It was also necessary to confirm the justice of God. 
(6) This sacrifice demonstrated that it is God who justifies those who have faith in  
            Jesus Christ.  

Propitiation. Propitiation has the idea of appeasing or satisfying. Therefore, propitiation refers to the work of Christ on the Cross, by which He both satisfied the demands of God’s justice and canceled the sinner’s guilt. In other texts, the same Greek word is translated “mercy seat.” The mercy-seat was the lid of the ark. On the Day of Atonement the high priest sprinkled the mercy-seat with the blood of a sacrificial victim. By this means the sins of the high priest and of the people were atoned for, or covered. When Christ made propitiation for our sins, He went much further. He not only covered them but did away with them completely. Christ’s death on the Cross can also be interpreted in terms of the Day of Atonement, on which the blood of the sacrificial animals was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place to atone for the sins of the people (see Lev. 16:14–16). In either case, through the death of Christ on the Cross, God took the initiative to bring mankind into right relationship with Himself. Jesus Christ is our mercy seat. He is the person by whom our sins were atoned, our penalty paid, and the offended party appeased. Jesus Christ is where God meets man.

The word propitiation also occurs in Hebrews 2:17: “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Here the expression “to make propitiation” means to put away by paying the penalty.

Whom God set forth as a propitiation. God set forth Christ Jesus as a propitiation. “For God so loved the world that He gave (set forth) His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Because of His sacrifice, God’s wrath is averted, and mercy can be shown on the basis of an acceptable sacrifice.

To demonstrate His righteousness. Why did Jesus Christ become our propitiation? The answer is to demonstrate his righteousness. This is done by atoning for sins, which prior to Calvary were not permanently dealt with. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). God made His statement about sin at the cross. He not only said something about it, He did something about it. The righteousness of God is declared by atoning for present and future sins as well as past sins. Therefore God is the justifier of any man, past, present, or future, who places his faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
 
From Adam to Christ, God saved those who put their faith in Him on the basis of whatever revelation He gave them. Abraham, for example, believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6). But how could God do this righteously? A sinless Substitute had not been slain. The blood of a perfect Sacrifice had not been shed. In a word, Christ had not died. The debt had not been paid. God’s righteous claims had not been met. How then could God save believing sinners in the Old Testament period? The answer is that although Christ had not yet died, God knew that He would die, and He saved men on the basis of the still-future work of Christ. Even if Old Testament saints didn’t know about Calvary, God knew about it, and He put all the value of Christ’s work to their account when they believed God. In a very real sense, Old Testament  believers were saved on credit. They were saved on the basis of a price still to be paid. They looked forward to Calvary; we look back to it.

God gave us His Son, because He was the only suitable sacrifice by which we could be saved—by His blood. We are not told to put our faith in His blood; Christ Himself is the object of our faith. It is only a resurrected and living Christ Jesus who can save. He is the propitiation. Faith in Him is the condition by which we avail ourselves of the propitiation. His blood is the price that was paid.

Through faith. Two of the greatest verses in the Bible have to do with faith and grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Grace is God’s provision; faith is man’s appropriation. Faith is not a commendable act, but the indispensable channel through which man receives God’s free gift: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). Grace doesn’t come to man due to his great effort or goodness. It the free gift of God. Faith means that man takes his place as a lost, guilty sinner, and receives the Lord Jesus as his only hope of salvation. True saving faith is the commitment of a person to a Person. Any idea that man can earn or deserve salvation is forever exploded by the words, and that not of yourselves. Dead people can do nothing, and before a person is saved, the Bible declares that he is dead in sins and trespasses; and sinners deserve nothing but punishment—“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

Forbearance is tolerance or mercy. Although human sin deserves punishment, God in His forbearance, or longsuffering patience, gives an opportunity for repentance. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).  The Old Testament period was a time of the forbearance of God. For at least 4000 years He held back His judgment on sin. Then in the fullness of time He sent His Son to be the Sin-bearer. When the Lord Jesus took our sins upon Himself, God unleashed the full fury of His righteous, holy wrath on the Son He loved.

26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Now, the death of Christ declares God’s righteousness. God is just because He has required the full payment of the penalty for sin. And He can justify the ungodly without condoning their sin or compromising His own righteousness because a perfect Substitute has died and risen again. Albert Midlane has stated the truth in poetry:

The perfect righteousness of God
Is witnessed in the Savior’s blood;
’Tis in the cross of Christ we trace
His righteousness, yet wondrous grace.

God could not pass the sinner by,
His sin demands that he must die;
But in the cross of Christ we see
How God can save, yet righteous be.

The sin is on the Savior laid,
’Tis in His blood sin’s debt is paid;
Stern justice can demand no more,
And mercy can dispense her store.

The sinner who believes is free,
Can say, “The Savior died for me”;
Can point to the atoning blood,
And say, “That made my peace with God.”

Just and the justifier. The wisdom of God’s plan allowed Him to punish Jesus in the place of sinners, and thereby justify those who are guilty, without compromising His justice.

Christ’s death on the Cross did more than vindicate God in regard to saving those in the past. Christ’s death paved the way for those in the future. The Cross is still as necessary as it ever was. The Lord is just or righteous in the present time when He declares one who believes in Jesus to be righteous. He didn’t pass a law that he who believes in Jesus would be declared righteous simply because He said so. Rather, He acted. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit entered into the arena of human sin. The Almighty laid the basis on which He could declare sinners righteous and still himself be righteous.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.

Where is boasting then in this wonderful plan of salvation?  In view of the fact that it is God who justifies us by providing Christ Jesus as our propitiation, what does this do to boasting? Paul’s answer is It is excluded. Boasting is shut out, there is no room for man’s boasting in the plan of God. By what law? of works? What is it that caused boasting to be inappropriate? Is it the law of works? Paul’s answer, No, but by the law of faith. If man could work to be justified, then he would have reason to boast. But we are saved by God’s grace through faith, not of works. And why? “Lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8–9). The justified person says, “I did all the sinning; Jesus did all the saving.” True faith denies any possibility of self-help, self-improvement, or self-salvation, looking only to Christ as Savior. Its language is:
In my hand no price I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
—Augustus M. Toplady
The Gospel excludes all human boasting. Man has nothing to boast about. If we received our just reward, what we deserve, we would be screaming in hell today for one drop of water to cool our parched tongue. In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, you can hear Paul crying out again that no flesh can glory in the presence of God. In Romans 4:2 he said, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.” It is only in Jesus that God accepts us, because in Jesus God has given us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. There is no boasting. Men dare not boast. In the words of Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am…” (1 Cor. 15:10)

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

Paul now comes to a conclusion which is the key to his theology. He concludes that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. This is the same conclusion which came to the heart of Martin Luther and spawned the Protestant Reformation. When this concept is understood, we too come to the conclusion that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone; to God alone be the glory.

The Lord is the one who declares men righteous. He is the God of both the Jews and the Gentiles. Faith is the cause of God’s declaration. Both Jews and Gentiles find acceptance with God in the same way—through a personal commitment to Him, a personal trust in Him. This doesn’t mean that the Law has been done away with. Rather the Law is confirmed in its role of making men conscious of sin. The Law confronts men not only with their sin, but with the Law-giver as well. When men trust God, the Law-giver, they are at the place where the law was meant to bring them.

29 Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also,

Is he the God of the Jews only? This question naturally arises in the Jewish mind, which still cannot conceive of the heathen being loved and justified by faith alone. Paul’s answer to the question is Yes, of the Gentiles also.  The reason is—there is one God only. There is not a god of the Jews and another god of the Gentiles. There is but one God of Jews and Gentiles. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles are made one. “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (John 17:11). There is no distinction of race, rank, or sex at the foot of the Cross. God is impartial. The only ultimate dividing line among people is the condition of the individual soul.

Paul admits that there were many so-called gods in heathen mythology, such as Jupiter, Juno, and Mercury. Some of these gods were supposed to live in heaven, and others, such as Ceres and Neptune, here on earth. In this sense there are many gods and many lords, that is, mythological beings which people worshiped and were in bondage to. It says in 1 Corinthians 8:5-6, “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”  Believers know that there is one true God, the Father, who created all things. And we for Him means that we were created for Him. In other words, He is the purpose or goal of our existence. We also know that there is one Lord, namely Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live. The expression through whom are all things describes the Lord Jesus as the Mediator or Agent of God, whereas the expression through whom we live indicates that it is through Him that we have been created and redeemed. When Paul says that there is one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, he does not mean that the Lord Jesus Christ is not God. Rather he simply indicates the respective roles which these two Persons of the Godhead fulfilled in creation and in redemption.

Paul is not here simply teaching monotheism as opposed to heathen polytheism. As a Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, but the called apostle to the Gentiles, Paul is the bridge between the Jew and the Gentile. But his message has made both one in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). The Lord Jesus Christ did not die for one race of mankind but for the whole world of sinners. And the offer of full and free salvation goes out to whosoever will, Jew or Gentile.

30 Since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

Are there two Gods—one for the Jews and one for the Gentiles. There is only one God and only one way of salvation for all mankind. He justifies the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Paul no doubt had in mind here the “Shema” of Israel, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4). This one God, who is over Jews and Gentiles, will justify all who come to Him regardless of background (circumcised or uncircumcised) on the basis of the same human condition—faith.

Why does Paul say that the Jews come by faith and Gentiles through faith?” Paul probably used this wording to give greater emphasis to the truth that we all come the same way; by faith. However, he wanted to show that the Jews, who were the born heirs of the promise, had a long history with God to base their faith upon. But the Gentiles, who had previously been strangers to the covenant of promise, had faith based on God’s word. But regardless how they got it, they both had to come to God the same way—by faith. 

31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.

Do we then make void the law through faith? Because God saves through faith and not through keeping the law, does this make the Law useless? Paul gives his characteristic answer; On the contrary, we establish the law. Faith in Christ is the proper response to the law, for what the law could not do, Christ alone can do. The teaching that justification is by faith alone does not destroy the Law. It completes the Law, fulfills it, and makes it meaningful. Justification by faith alone honors the Law, because prior to Jesus Christ no one ever honored the Law by perfectly keeping it. Since the Lord Jesus did, faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary brings the ultimate respect to the Law.

If the gospel establishes (proves) the law, how does it do it? This is how: The law demands perfect obedience. The penalty for breaking the law must be paid. That penalty is DEATH. If a lawbreaker pays the penalty, he will be lost eternally. The gospel tells how Christ died to pay the penalty of the broken law. He did not treat it as a thing to be ignored. He paid the debt in full. Now anyone who has broken the law can avail himself of the fact that Christ paid the penalty on his behalf. Thus, the gospel of salvation by faith upholds the law by insisting that its utmost demands must be and have been fully met.

The Jew has tried to be a good man and to keep the law because he is afraid of God and terrified of the punishment that breaking the Law would bring. That day is gone forever. But what has taken its place is the love of God. Now a man must try to be good and keep God’s law, not because he fears God’s punishment, but because he thinks he must work to deserve that amazing love. (We know that no amount of work will make a person worthy of salvation, but it does bring God’s approval and future rewards.) He strives for goodness, not because he fears God, but because he loves Him. He knows now that sin is not so much breaking God’s law as it is breaking God’s heart, and, therefore, it is twice as terrible.

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