Introduction: Last week we were left in a terrible state! We decided
that we were no better than all of those “obvious” sinners and that
our deeds deserved death. Worse, there was nothing that we could do
about it because “no one will be declared righteous in His sight by
observing the law.” Romans 3:20. This week we get to the good news –
someone has already done something about our sin problem. Let’s run
to Romans and find out more!
- Righteousness From God
- Read Romans 3:21-22. What do we need to do to be
righteous? (If we believe in Jesus, righteousness comes
to us by faith.)
- Whose righteousness is this? (God’s righteousness.)
- Is there a better righteousness than that?
- Notice that this righteousness comes “apart from
law.” What does that mean? (That the law has nothing
to do with it.)
- Consider that a moment. If keeping the Ten
Commandments has nothing to do with our
righteousness, does that change your attitude
- Notice something else. Romans 3:21 says that the Law
testifies to this righteousness from God. If the
law has nothing to do with it, how can that be?
- When you think of testimony, what comes to
mind? (A statement that tends to prove the
truth of something.)
- What truth is at issue here? (The question
for Paul’s listeners (and us) is “Who is
Jesus?” Paul argues that the law (and
prophets) testify to Jesus being God’s
righteousness for us. That is the truth at
- How does the law testify to Jesus being our
righteousness? (In some sense nothing changed,
and in another sense everything changed.
Sinners under the Old Testament system had
their sins forgiven by the death of an animal.
They were not righteous because they perfectly
kept the Ten Commandments – they were righteous
because of the sacrifice. The Old Testament
system of sacrifice, the Ten Commandments, and
the prophets all pointed to the new system in
which Jesus died for our sins and lived a
perfect life in our place.)
- No Difference
- Look at the last phrase of Romans 3:22. “There is no
difference.” Difference in what? (Recall last week how
we were looking in horror at all the sins that those
“other” people did – and we agreed that they certainly
deserved death! Then we learned that we deserved death
too. Now, the good people (the Jews) and the bad people
(the Gentiles) all get saved the same way!)
- Read Romans 3:23-24. One of the things which gives gold
its value is that it is scarce. How valuable is Jesus’
righteousness? (Of infinite value.)
- How scarce is it? (God gives justification “freely.”
Everyone who believes can have it.)
- What does this say about my effort to be more
respectable than others? (As we will see, obedience
to the law is a good thing, but it does nothing to
save me. It does not make me more worthy of
salvation. Grace is a free gift available to me,
saints, and low-lives.)
- Read Romans 3:25-26. Nothing in what we have discussed so
far seems like any kind of “justice” that I know about.
All sorts of bad people get saved, and it does not depend
on the degree of their goodness or badness. An innocent
God suffers for the sins of others. These verses tell us
(twice) that this system demonstrates God’s justice. I’ve
just explained why this is not true. Tell me why you
think it is true? (Two things. First, who is getting
hurt in this deal? God! If God is giving me an
unbelievable deal, then who am I to say it is unjust? God
is the only one who can complain here. Second, the very
fact that Jesus died for my sins shows that God takes sin
seriously. Justice demanded punishment.)
- Read Romans 3:27. Have you any reason to believe that you
are better than any other member of your church?
- When I previously referred to other persons as
“low-lives,” was that appropriate? (We all deserve
death. We all are saved by Jesus’ righteousness
alone. That means that the differences between
believers makes no difference in regard to
salvation. Thus, no one gets to boast and no one
gets to call someone else names (which is a reverse
form of boasting).)
- Let’s set salvation aside for just a moment. Assume
that you believe (as most do) that you are a better
person than others that you know about. Is that not
something about which you can rightfully boast?
- For example, what if you can say that you never
lied? Never cheated anyone in a business deal?
Never cheated on your taxes or your spouse?
What if you stayed married for 50 years? Are
these not things worthy of boasting about – as
a goal to encourage others?
- If you say, “yes,” then think about that
sin event (or continuing problem) in your
life that you hope no one (or at least not
most everyone) knows about. How would you
feel if that were known? (This is why no
one can boast. We all fall short. If you
still doubt your sin problem, the likely
reason is that your conscience is to
blunted to realize the extent of your
- Law In The Dust?
- Read Romans 3:28-30. Why does Paul ask whether God is
also the God of the Gentiles? (You have two groups. One
group has historically worked to keep God’s law, and the
other group knew nothing about God’s law before they were
converted to Christianity. Paul tells us that they both
can be justified by grace – and it has nothing to do with
keeping the law. God treats them both in the same way.)
- Read Romans 3:31. If you had never read Romans before,
would you not think the answer to this question should be
“yes!” If obedience to the law has nothing to do with
our salvation, isn’t it “nullified” as far as salvation
- Let’s imagine that you ride a bicycle to work. Your
only alternative is to walk. Someone gives you a car
and you now drive to work – no pedaling required.
Would it be fair to say that your bicycle was
- What if someone noticed your new car and said, “I
guess you don’t need that old bike anymore.” Could
you honestly say, “My new car upholds my bike!”
- At this point, it seems that obeying the law does not
really matter. But, let’s step back a moment. We started
this week’s lesson with Romans 3:20 which says “through
the law we become conscious of sin.” Is that the reason
why the law is upheld?
- Paul assures us that the law still matters. Does the
fact that Jesus obeyed and died in our place say
something about the importance of the law? We will
find out next week!
- Friend, how about you? Have you accepted Jesus’ free
gift of salvation? I had a friend who used to tell me
that he needed to “clean up” a few things before he
returned to church. He never returned. You will never be
saved until you rely on Jesus’ perfect life for your
salvation. Why not ask Jesus to justify you right now?
To make you perfectly righteous right now?
- Next Week: Justification and the Law.