Romansby David Cook
A ccording to Bible scholar Leon Morris, this is perhaps the most significant paragraph ever written.
After the bleak but realistic news of 1:18–3:20, we come to the momentously good news: That a right standing with God, apart from human performance, has been revealed. It comes to all who believe in the faithful work of Jesus Christ (vv. 21–22).
The need for such a relationship is universal (v. 23). In explaining this, Paul employs three words in common use in his time.
“Justified” (v. 24): This is a legal word whereby God, the judge, declares the guilty sinner to be in the right with Him. How can God do this and remain just? He does it on the basis of Jesus’ death, which has fully paid our penalty and acquitted us.
“Redemption” (v. 24): This is a word from commerce. It is what Jesus’ death means to us—He buys us back for God, paying the ransom price of His own perfect life.
“Sacrifice of atonement” (v. 25), or “propitiation”: This is a religious word which explains what Jesus’ death means to God. Through His death, Jesus absorbs the wrath of God due to our sin so that we don’t have to take the punishment we deserve.
Thus God the Father, in the death of the Son, makes His attitude to sin patently clear (v. 25). God also demonstrates His justice (v. 26). His perfect Son gives His life to set us free, in that He absorbs God’s just wrath against human sin. God in His love satisfies His own justice, the penalty of sin is paid, and the law is upheld. God is just and is able to be the justifier by declaring us to be in the right because of the work of Jesus.
We are set right not because of our faith; we are set right through faith (v. 22) and by faith (v. 28). Faith links us to the work of Christ, which is the foundation of a right relationship with God.
The foundation of this relationship is the unchanging work of Christ. God is always satisfied with the work of His Son. Hence, our relationship with God is unchanging and stable because it is based on what Jesus has done.
In the light of the truths revealed in this Scripture passage, why is the practice of religious rituals to earn God’s favour both impossible and unnecessary?
Why are these truths so liberating?