God is a God of love and compassion. The Bible declares that He accepts even the worst of sinners into His kingdom. On the other hand, God is also just. The Bible makes clear that God will judge those who are sinful. With those two points made, there seems to be a contradiction of God’s character. God is holy, righteous, and just. Because of that truth, He must condemn sin and judge those who are sinners. But God is also loving, compassionate, and forgiving. So this love demands pardon. How can God be righteous in His judgment of sinful people and still show them love and mercy? To pass over the sin is as much of an injustice as to condemn those who are innocent. A principle of God’s judgment is that “He will treat everyone evenhandedly. There is equal justice for all in God’s court” (Constable 26, 2012), but how can this be? This is the dilemma that God is seemingly faced with. How will God solve this problem?
God foresaw this dilemma and made provision for sinful man by His Son, Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to justify sinful man before God. Justification is laid out crystal clear in Romans 3:23-24. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” There are three main words that are key in these verses: freely, grace, and justified. Freely indicates that it was given without any cost to the receiver. The one who receives a free gift loses nothing. However, freely also indicates that it did cost the giver something. The giver of the free gift had to sacrifice something in order for the receiver to obtain the gift. The word grace means undeserved favor. When grace is extended, the one receiving grace has done nothing to earn that grace. Again, the receiver gains something and loses nothing. Then finally the word justified means made right or not guilty. A good example is when a judge declares an individual not guilty. At that moment, that individual is justified and no longer has any charges against them. Practically in the life of a Christian, this is exactly what Jesus did for every one of us. Jesus gave Himself freely for our justification. It cost Him everything and cost us nothing. We didn’t do anything to earn this gift. It was one hundred percent a gift of grace. God loved His people too much to let them perish without hope. By Jesus’ blood on the cross, He paid our debt of sin against God, and God now declares Christian believer not guilty. The blood of Jesus Christ freely and graciously justifies.
The redemption from sin did not come without great cost. Redemption is the deliverance or the rescue from sin. Jesus came to deliver sinful man from the chains of sin. In order for this take place, extreme sacrifice had to be made. In order for man to be redeemed, the price of human sin must be paid. Because Jesus lived a sinless life, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself. On the cross, Jesus died for the sin of man and redeemed all mankind. The price of redemption was the death of the Savior. However, that is not the end of the story. Jesus did not stay dead, but rose three days later and ascended to the Father and sat at God’s right hand. Because of Jesus’ act of redemption, those who put their faith in Him now are justified before God and have a future hope. That future hope is to forever be with the presence of God in heaven. Although the price was great, Jesus has made a way to God the Father that man could have never made. As Christians, we live each day free from the bondage of sin and redeemed before God because of the price Jesus Christ paid.
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood – to be received by faith” (Romans 3:25 NIV). Verse 25 reveals the term, “sacrifice of atonement”. The key idea here is that God demands punishment for sin because of His holiness. Paul concludes that all humanity is doomed to the wrath of God. At the same time, God intercedes for us by offering His son as a “sacrifice of atonement” to appease His wrath. As Paul presents the concept of atonement, he undoubtedly was recalling the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement was a day that high priest of the Jewish people entered the innermost room of the tabernacle, the Most Holy Place. There was but one piece of furniture that was kept in this room, the Ark of the Covenant. This wooden chest plated with gold held the Ten Commandments that God had presented to Moses of Mount Sinai. The cover of the Ark (the mercy seat) had two angelic figures made of gold that faced each other with their wings outstretched. God said that His presence would dwell in between those two angels on the mercy seat. Then on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered in behind the curtain with the sacrificial blood taken from the animal of sacrifice and sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat. The idea of this process was that God would look between the two angelic figures and not see the sins of the people. He instead would see the blood of the sacrifice and turn aside His wrath. This process would have to be done year after year in order for fellowship with God to be maintained, but the annual sacrifices could never fully deal with the sin. Then God saw that the time was right, He sent His Son Jesus. He acted as our High Priest and offered His own blood before God. His blood did more than just cover the sin of man, but permanently removed it.
In the life of a believer, an unabashed faith for Jesus Christ is a necessity. Paul makes clear that redemption from sin is found only in Jesus Christ. The Jewish people held that the Law must be withheld without flaw. For the Gentile that wanted to be accepted into God’s Kingdom (according to the Jew) had to also keep to the law without any mess up. But Paul states “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). This creates a major issue. Scripture says that everybody has sinned and falls short of God’s righteous standard. How can the Law be kept without error if everybody falls short? Paul answers this question in the very next verse when he says everyone is “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” (Romans 3:24-25). God knew that the human race, whether Jew or Gentile, could never keep His Law perfectly. The Law has never meant to be gateway to heaven, it was meant to expose our need for a Savior. Because God knew this was the case, He sent His Son in the form of a human to live the life that we could never live. Jesus Christ kept the Law that we could not, bore the wrath of God that we could never bear, and paid the price for our sin that we could not pay. However, what does Paul say in verse 25? This gift of redemption that Jesus has given is to be “received by faith” (25). The work of Jesus Christ must be accepted in faith. There is nothing more that can be added to this work. The word that Paul uses whenever he says “by” faith or “in” faith is used to describe a channel that water runs through. To receive anything except the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to shut off that channel. To accept anything else is to shut off the channel of grace that Jesus offers. Faith and the Law will not make any person righteous. Faith and any moral code will not merit points with God. Faith in Christ alone is credited as righteous before God.
May God bless you!