Subject:   From judgment to justification-

Message: Rom 3:21-31 (CSB)

We’re reading a letter from a man who didn’t believe Jesus was the son of God..

Who grew up in a religious home and followed in the footsteps of his God-fearing, successful Jewish parents, who sent their son to the best schools to be a rabbi…

Where he excelled beyond all his peers to the top of the top as  a Pharisee..

Entrusted by them, because of his reputation of knowledge of scripture and dedicated to the passion of God, to ‘persecute’ the followers of Jesus, who they saw as a pretender.. Worse.. A blasphemer.

Until that day on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), where Jesus reveals to him personally that He is the risen from the dead suffering Messiah the prophets wrote about.

Having MET the living Savior who suffered and died to redeem the world from sin….

Paul’s eyes are opened to truths about God’s plan from the beginning to Himself redeem his creation - he’d  write Timothy -’ this grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but has now been revealed through the appearing of our savior - which Paul experienced ‘in person’!

Paul’s understanding has been opened to how the history of the Jewish people didn’t focus carefully enough on what God was saying and doing, he understands his religious pride, and that of his jewish forefathers missing the importance of the problem of SIN before a Holy GOD brewing and ‘coming to a head’.. So to speak, writing in 1:18 “before the wrath of God was being revealed against us ... .NOW the righteousness of God is made known..

And for 2 chapters Paul ‘reveals’ that sin of the human race to his readers, and says in Romans 3:21 BUT NOW!

And he’s  burdened that all understand the Isaiha 53:3 spoke of JESUS-

He was despised and rejected by men,(E)
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.(F)
He was like someone people turned away from;[b]
he was despised, and we didn’t value him.

4Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;(G)
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God,(H) and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion,(I)
crushed because of our iniquities;(J)
punishment(K) for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.(L)

We all went astray like sheep;(M)
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for[c] the iniquity(N) of us all

And that all would understand the Psalms prophesied a “resurrected’ Lord:


For you will not abandon me to Sheol;(L)

you will not allow your faithful one to see decay 16:10

Psalm 22 is Jesus hanging on a cross (which Jesus quoted while hanging there)

Psalm 23 is Jesus the good shepherd - Jesus spoke of in John 10

Psalm 24 is about Jesus ascending back   to heaven.

With THAT….

We pick up in Romans 3v 21…  where we move from wrath to righteousness.. From condemnation to justification

LETS PRAY:--------------

 V 21

21 But now[y] (referring to a new phase in salvation history. - new covenant)

apart from the law (moral laws God gave Moses for Isreal to know how to live rightly with GOd and each other)

 the righteousness of God has been revealed,(AA) hmmmm 😂

(yet) attested by the Law           and the Prophets.[o](AB) 

(Both God’s moral laws given to Moses, and the prophets who spoke to God's people alluded to this happening) (examples:? more)

(it even goes back further than that!! Genesis 3:15… Adam and Eve receive their consequences.. And to the serpent (satan uses) God says

“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.”

called the protoevangelium (literally, “first gospel”), because it is the Bible’s first prediction of a Savior. The second half of the verse gives two messianic prophecies concerning that Savior:

Offspring’? (human beings from Eve vs. demonic forces and those people who will follow them,,,)

(Yet the “human offspring….   will one day be Jesus Christ)

(Of Jesus, God says to satan that day in the garden

“He (referring to Jesus) will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Scholars point out:

This passage points to the promise of Jesus’ birth, His redemption, and His victory over Satan. The woman’s offspring is Jesus. Being virgin-born, He is literally the offspring of a woman... Being the Son of Man, He is the perfect representative of humankind.

 The devil’s offspring were the evil men and demonic forces who, like a snake, lay in wait for the Savior and struck at Him. Their venomous conspiracy condemned Jesus to be crucified.

But the serpent’s strike did not spell the end of the Offspring of the woman. Jesus rose the third day, breaking the power of death and winning the ultimate victory. With the cross, Jesus “crushed” the devil’s head, defeating him forever. So, in Genesis 3:15, the crushing of the serpent’s head was a picture of Jesus’ triumph over sin and Satan at the cross (cf. John 12:31). The striking of the Messiah’s heel was a picture of the wounding and death of Jesus on the cross. 

The protoevangelium shows us that God always had the plan of salvation in mind and informed us of His plan as soon as sin entered the world. Satan formulated a plan involving the serpent in Eden, but God was way ahead of him, having already ordained the Serpent-crusher. Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled God’s mission: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). (end quote)

(REV 12:9) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Back to our text today… This was the plan of God  for mercy and grace for those he created who would want it. … :

 🙂   v 22 The righteousness of God is …… through faith(AC) in Jesus Christ[p](AD) to all who believe,(AE) since there is no distinction.(AF) (?It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done..

Each of us can join God in His righteousness as we are ‘justified’ because God looks at His Son as the most precious ‘ransom’… ‘paying’ His holy innocent life for our debt to the judgment of sin.

 through faith(AC) in Jesus Christ


Faith…Pistis’ is used 243 times in the NT and 39 uses in Romans -

Faith… the problem for many with it, is others may criticize us .. for having it.

We have to get over that. Paul did. He earned by experience, and teaches: 

If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 10:9-11)

(Newell looks closer at his faith experience having been focused initially on the cross- and makes an interesting observation:

 “faith is not ‘trusting’ or ‘expecting’ God to do something, but relying on His testimony concerning the person of Christ as His Son, and the work of Christ for us on the crossAfter saving faith, the life of trust beginstrust is always looking forward to what God will do; but faith sees that what God says has been done, and believes God’s Word, having the conviction that it is true, and true for ourselves.” 

Interesting? What does it mean to you?

Wayne Grudem defines faith that saves one's soul this way:
Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.” This definition emphasizes that saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save me… The definition emphasizes personal trust in Christ, not just belief in facts about Christ. Because saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word trust is a better word to use in contemporary culture (than the word “faith” or “belief.”) The reason is that we can “believe” something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it.

(Demons ‘believe’ in Jesus:

James wrote: You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder 2:19)

John MacArthur makes the point that "False faith may be faith in good works, faith in ritual, faith in a religious experience or system, faith in one’s own goodness, or simply a nebulous faith in faith that is so common in our day. A person is saved through faith in Jesus Christ alone, apart from anything else.

Paul explains the ‘personal impact’ Christ had on him beautifully to the Philipians: that he had counted all things…

to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Php 3:8,9)

One saint asks: 

“what could be more reasonable than that the creature should trust his Creator, Who has provided the way for him to come back into fellowship with Him through the blood of the Lamb?”

?? Don’t we have to get to a point where we are interested in the “righteousness of God” after looking at our own ‘self-righteousness’ and seeing our short-comings?

The pattern for our interest in faith in God’s righteousness to save was set in motion throughout the old testament:


 Isaiah wrote: 1 “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.  (55:1)


We see it expressed this way by David:

 Ps 31:1,Lord, I seek refuge in you; let me never be disgraced. Save me by your righteousness

(David was a man after God’s own heart.. Could that alone make him ‘good enough’ for God?  No.. he fell into the sin of adultery. He pleaded to be saved by the righteous…. Of GOD! 


Listen to Isaiah’s description! 🙂

I rejoice greatly in the Lord I exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,

as a groom wears a turban and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isa 61:10)

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness, 

? Has it happened to you?? (it's happened to me!)

How? God loves us!

All the way back in the garden.. God knew Adam and Eve would sin..  Where are you? Who told you you were naked? What have you done? God has to give them the consequences… now noticing they are naked and ashamed God’s next move is compassion -  21 The Lord God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.

(Spurgeon)i. “Some creature had to die in order to provide them with garments, and you know who it is that died in order that we might be robed in his spotless righteousness. The Lamb of God has made for us a garment which covers our nakedness so that we are not afraid to stand even before the bar of God.”


“There are only two religions; there is the religion of fig leaves and there is the religion of God’s perfect provision through Jesus. Covering ourselves with our good works is like Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves with fig leaves.”

It's interesting to me that the bible ‘opens up’ with man willfully disobeying GOd and going his own way.. Yet - though there are consequences to that, he moves to ‘cover us’ with our care…

And the bible ‘closes’ in Revelation with Christ speaks of our having (3:18)... white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed.

 Charles Simeon put it…

This righteousness is bestowed upon us freely by God himself; it is not only given “unto” us as a portion, but is put “upon” us as a garment.

22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;

J Vernon Mcgee- Each one of us is completely lost outside of Christ. Either you are absolutely saved in Christ, or you are completely lost outside of Christ. All of us need the righteousness of Christ. There is no difference. 

?? DO we ‘believe’ in Jesus - That Way? 

Acts 13:39, "By Him everyone (all) who believes is justified from all things." 

?? How are we ‘justified’’ from “all things”? By completely looking to Jesus to Justify us.

??Have you ever imagined yourself in the ‘courtroom’? Waiting your turn for judgment? Perhaps you hear the gavel ringing out the permanence of the sentencing of others…

?? can we each imagine ourselves..  When we hear (v 24)

‘’Justified ‘freely’ by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and the gavel strike ‘snaps’ through the air.

We turn, looking for more comprehension. And see our Accuser -speechless, powerless.

And then we see the eyes of Christ -that same look that unfaithful Peter found - telling him.. Telling me… ‘my love for you on the cross conquered sin and death, and covers your weakness and shame’..

A.W. Tozer says this of Justification:

 It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold of the life and brought it unto obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back.

 had a finality about it. It snapped shut on a man’s heart like a trap; it captured the man and made him from that moment forward a happy love-servant of his Lord."


Paul goes on to describe Jesus in this eternal courtroom scene in v 25:      Listen to the beauty in these translations about Jesus’ sacrifice:

25 NKJV ‘whom God set forth  as a propitiation    by His     blood, 

25 ESV whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

(it all essentially says this:)

25  NLT For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. 

I.e God publicly took the punishment for our sins..

?? do we ‘publicly’ accept He did that for me?

25 (NET) God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat  accessible through faith. 

( propitiation (hilasterion)  used in the Septuagint for the mercy seat, david Guzik explains:

Inside the Ark of the Covenant was the evidence of man’s great sin: the tablets of law; the manna received ungratefully; … showing man’s rejection of God’s leadership. Up over the Ark of the Covenant were the symbols of the holy presence of the enthroned God in the beautiful gold cherubim. In between the two stood the mercy seat, and as sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), God’s wrath was averted because ‘a substitute’ had been slain on behalf of sinners coming by faith. We really can say that Jesus is our “mercy seat,” standing between guilty sinners and the holiness of God.

(PICTURE of mercy seat?

The mercy seat was special because it was the place God’s glory appeared when He wanted to communicate with Israel (Exodus 25:22). The symbol of the divine presence appeared over the mercy seat like a glowing light called the “Shekinah”.


Psalms 85:10-11, “Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.”

  • Mercy without justice = creates a weakened and decaying moral order.
  • Justice without mercy = is moral severity, revolting to both God and humans.

John’s gospel introduction?    1:17 ‘For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’

V25b goes on to say of God that Jesus’ sacrifice

 ‘demonstrate(s)’ his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed’...

ESV: This was to show God's righteousness, because in (D)his divine forbearance he had passed over (E)former sins.

This refers to the  (Guzik) ‘the sins of those Old Testament saints who trusted in the coming Messiah. At the cross, those sins were no longer ‘passed over’, they were paid for.

 ‘through the animal sacrifice of the Old Testament, That temporary covering was redeemed for full payment at the cross.’

 26 God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be just, and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

? How can God’s created ones, fallen to sin, be seen as Justified by a Holy God?

“Just as if I never sinned” ??   .. only by Christ on the cross for us


 “Here we learn that God designed to give the most evident displays of both his justice and mercy. Of his justice, in requiring a sacrifice, and absolutely refusing to give salvation to a lost world in any other way; and of his mercy, in providing THE sacrifice which his justice required.”

Paul concludes his thought on God’s forgiveness of sin:

27 Where, then, is boasting?(AN) It is excluded. (greek: it is shut out)

By what kind of law?[s](AO) By one of works? 

Paul will teach in n CH  9:31

But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law.

No, on the contrary, by a law[t] of faith. (I believe jesus died and rose again for the forgiveness of my sins)  

28 For we conclude that a person is justified    by faith 

               apart            from the works of the law.

29 Or is God the God of Jews only? 

 (if saved by the works of he law, the Gentiles did not ‘have’ or ‘know of’ the  laws God gave Moses fro Israel)

Is he not the God of Gentiles too? 

Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is one God(AR) who will justify the circumcised (the Jewish people who ‘believe’ in Jesus as Savior)

by faith(AS) 

and the uncircumcised (non-Jews) through faith. 

31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not!(AT) 

On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Jesus says 50For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister…..

You are My friends if you do what I command you…  by their fruits you shall know them…

We  find the balance between faith and works with Paul and James where they refer to the word ‘Justify’ with different emphasis:

Paul uses  justified as in the courtroom setting “declared righteous by God.”  James is using the word justified to mean “being demonstrated and proved.”

 Referring to being not just a ‘hearer of the word’ as as Jesus warns against hypocricy

James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. I.e. a persons faith is to be for that a ‘statement’ of faith, but a life that shows it.. “being demonstrated and proved.”

Jesus said:  “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

We are to have a similar attitude. We are to desire to obey God in all things. Even more so because of our great salvation.. We simply are not to boast in ‘any good thing’ we do , as a reason for our salvation.

? If one were to ask you? “Why do you think you're going to heaven?” I must bite down on my ‘pride’ and reveal two things to others:
“I believe I have sinned against a holy God”..

And I believe Jesus Christ died for my sin, so I could become ‘like Him’.

Jesus said: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven, But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”


Everyone trusts in something. 🙂 we get to choose. If people don’t ‘trust in Christ’ they’re trusting in something else. The day I cried out to know His love if He had it for me..? And He answered? Was the most wonderful day of my life. Jesus.. Who revealed his love to Paul? Revealed it to me too?!!

Oh the Joy.. of ‘believing’ He's real? Just asking Him if He .. loves us? 

I have to believe that if anyone comes to the place of wholeheartedly - bowing before Jesus, and asking Him:

… is there something you have for me? 

That you purchased .. for me?  With your life… on the cross that day?   That I could please.. Have.. your love?  “know you?” Like you’re a real person 🙂


V 24 “The redemption that is in Jesus Christ”??? Is that not what changes the heart? 

1st.. To ‘know our own sin’ 

and 2nd… to have been ‘purchased’ from its power and ownership.

“Jesus paid it all”… all   to Him I owe.

 Gone is all my debt of sin, A great change is wrought within, And to live I now begin,  Risen from the fall; (Paul V 21 BUT NOW)

Yet the debt I did not pay— Someone died for me one day, 

Sweeping all the debt away—Jesus paid it all. (it closes this way:)  Sinner, not for me alone Did the Son of God atone;

Your debt, too, He made His own, On the cruel tree.

 Come to Him with all your sin; 

Be as white as snow within; Full salvation you may win ??” (end quote)

 ? Is it not realizing ‘our’ sin has been paid, that stirs us…

 that there might be a ‘some way’ for me to show thankfulness for a debt paid - that I could never repay?

Lets remember who we become in Christ - back to Ephesians Ch 1

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. 4For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. In love 5He predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of His will,

God declared it through Isaiah  before the Savior came:

CH 43: Now this is what the Lord says—  the one who created you, Jacob,

and the one who formed you, Israel(—    “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and the rivers will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire,

you will not be scorched, and the flame will not burn you.

3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior.


Lastly: close in Ephesians 2:

2 And you were dead(A) in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world,(B) according to the ruler of the power of the air,(C) the spirit(D) now working in the disobedient.[a] 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly(E) desires, carrying out the inclinations(F) of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath(G) as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy,(H) because of his great love(I) that he had for us,[b] 5 made us alive(J) with Christ even though we were dead(K) in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,(L) 7 so that in the coming ages(M) he might display the immeasurable riches(N) of his grace through his kindness(O) to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace(P) through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created(Q) in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time(R) for us to do.

?? Let's pray about this in our lives, and the lives of others?

 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1 Corinthians 6:20).

?? to what would God say “But NOW to us? Regarding our righteousness in Christ..